The phrase fintech gets thrown around so much these days that it’s easy to look past the two words that comprise it: finance and technology. In many ways, these industries feel at odds. Finance evokes an image of buttoned-up bankers on Wall Street protecting the status quo, whereas technology evokes the future, as discussed by hoodie- and flip-flop-wearing prodigies.
Despite the different images, finance and technology have a number of things in common as far as industries go: They’re both heavily white and heavily male, and both are criticized for being “out of touch” with mainstream America. When the industries combine forces as fintech, however, the narrative starts to change.
Diversity as a Foundation
“Fintech is so exciting because it is here to change the financial system for all,” says Nicole Casperson, founder of WTFintech?, a newsletter and podcast. “If the leaders … aren’t representative of a diverse demographic of end user,” Casperson says, “then you’re never going to be able to cater to that [diverse] audience. And the audience is only getting more diverse.”
By 2050, less than 50% of the U.S. will be white, according to the Census Bureau. Women also make up more than half of the population (50.5% versus men’s 49.5%).
That makes diversity a big factor in creating a viable fintech company. A product or service won’t be relevant in the long run if it doesn’t acknowledge the demographic shift.
When she selects guests to feature, Casperson works with intention to choose guests “representative of the audience that I wish to see, and that I think a lot of us wish to see.” She makes sure that 50%-60% of her speakers are women, “at the minimum.” Plus, “80% of my guests, it might even be 90%, are people of color. That is super important to me.”
Building With Intention
In many ways, Casperson is to traditional media what fintech is to traditional finance. While traditional media often looks at diversity as a separate conversation or sidebar initiative, Casperson makes it core to what she does. Fintech seems to be building like Casperson is: intentionally.
Take Web3, for example. Remove the “bitcoin billionaire”-style bros from the equation, and you see a significant amount of diversity. Black Americans are more likely to own NFTs or invest in cryptocurrency, and the community has been talking about diversity from day one as it grows, instead of trying to retrofit an existing industry.
But while diversity is core to WTFintech?, Casperson is just as interested in finding and sharing the next big thing, and that means looking beyond wealth technology to see what’s happening in the retail space, how fintech underpins broader stories, and more.
It’s precisely this broad scope and intentional approach to fintech that make Casperson the perfect person to help advisors navigate technology. After hearing from so many advisors that they aren’t sure how to go about building their tech stack, from what tech to start with, to whether they need X new service, we decided to tap an expert. Nicole is hosting a Braindate at Exchange: An ETF Experience on the best way to prioritize technology and build a tech stack.
“You’re not going to get a sales pitch because I’m independent,” she points out. Plus, since she’s interviewed many of these providers, she knows what’s on their minds and what they’re thinking about for the future.
One of the most important things to consider now is data. “You have to start at the data aggregation point, and the data management aspect, and find a provider that does that very well.” If you don’t, she says, “You’re in for a painful ride.”
For more information on what to look for in a tech provider, follow Casperson on Twitter @NicoleCasperson.
To learn more about Exchange, visit www.exchangeetf.com.
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