Contrary to what many people think, financial services are one of the least disrupted sectors. This is why most financial professionals believe the industry will change tremendously in the next 10 years.
During KPMG 30 Voices: Next Generation, 200 carefully selected people, including myself – deemed as the next generation of financial leaders – were given a voice on how to best exploit the opportunities disruption in the industry will raise, as well as deal with the new upcoming challenges posed by technology, regulation and sustainability. The event was composed of three steps: Ideas Rave, Idea Development and Final Pitch.
During the first step, selected participants were divided into 20 teams, with each team given a challenge and asked to develop a solution accordingly. In the second step, the best six ideas out of 20 were shortlisted and the selected teams had the unique chance to develop their ideas at KPMG’s offices in Canary Wharf, followed by partners and senior managers of the firm. Last, the teams pitched their idea in front of potential investors and leaders of major international companies and funds on the day of the Final Pitch.
The Ideas Rave
For the Ideas Rave, I joined Team#1. We were asked to answer the following questions: What should the next generation of pension look like? How do we close the savings gap?
With the exception of myself who is a student on the MSc Business Analytics programme, the team was composed of young professionals and leaders in the financial services industry, currently working in companies including Coutts, Tesco Bank and Willis Towers Watson. What struck me immediately about the team was the different cultural and academic backgrounds we all had, in addition to the energy, curiosity and ambition we shared.
My group started by thinking about the next generation of pensions. I immediately noticed that although most people in the team were working in the financial services sector, the amount of diversity brought to the table in terms of the number of ideas was impressive. Nonetheless, we all agreed on one matter: people are living longer and saving less. In addition, we realised that many people who start working today already carry huge student debts, without really thinking about long-term saving.
To meet the pension needs of an ageing population and pave the way of a new pension landscape, an abrupt change in people’s behaviour must be done and, from these considerations, we developed One Pot, our vision for the future of pensions and personal savings.
Given the scope of the challenge at hand, we developed a solution in two periods. Today, One Pot could be deemed as a money management tool that provides users with a single view of their finances and helps them make wiser financial decisions. In the future, One Pot will act as the gateway to a single personal savings product that will replace everything before it; in other words, a next generation pension.
Our team agreed on the fact that besides reintroducing a savings culture to Britain, One Pot should lead a movement to reinvent saving and investment products. To do this we planned on relying on the support of policymakers, trade associations and One Pot users, so as to lobby financial institutions to create a single personal savings vehicle to replace the myriad of options currently on the market.
Our idea impressed the judging board, composed by an expert panel of judges from leading organisations, including Bloomberg, UK Finance and Microsoft, and we were invited to develop One Pot further, in KPMG office in Canary Wharf for the Final Pitch.
I was extremely excited: this was the perfect occasion for me to test the analytical and business domain knowledge I had acquired during my MSc Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School. An example of an analytical task I was asked to conduct was research on the different data gathering techniques One Pot could use and the most efficient way to process that information.
Another key aspect we discussed, that was also central during my Masters’, was the ethical dilemma about working with people’s personal information. What information can be asked and to which extent would people willingly share their most sensitive data? An example of a business-related task was when I helped the team to develop a business plan to determine how would the investment in One Pot make money and pay itself over time.
The Final Pitch outcome
Unfortunately, our team was not selected as the winner of the finale. Nevertheless, we were contacted by a big UK-based retail bank in the days after the event and we are expected to work on the project again in the weeks to come. I am confident this experience will serve as a stepping-stone in my professional development and I am thankful to Imperial College Business School for providing me with all the necessary skills to take the most from this experience.