I truly enjoy industry publications, posts (like this one), and participating in financial technology conferences. I actually wrote a “Strategically Speaking” post titled, The Value in FinTech Conferences, about the true value of participating in, and not just attending industry events. It’s great to sit out in the crowd, listen, learn, absorb, and move on. Isn’t that what most of us do? We get excited, agree with the points the speaker or panel are making, and go back to do the same thing we always did.
But what I have figured out recently is that if I contribute … if I get involved in the narrative, my perspective changes completely. But that isn’t comfortable, is it? When the speaker or moderator asks if we have any comments or questions, we don’t want to be the one that gets pointed out in the group and have that microphone pointed at us. Oh no … I just want to have my own thoughts, be the smartest person in my own head … I don’t need to justify those thoughts with the crowd. Don’t put me on the spot, and don’t make me be a contributor. That is someone else’s job, someone else’s responsibility. I mean, I know men and women in the industry that are published … they are the contributors, not me. I just want to absorb the information and take it back to my comfortable office, pack it away, and use it when I need it.
Isn’t that what most of us do? Even with the best intentions when you sign up for a “working session” or to be a part of a “strategic initiatives group” or advisory board? You want to be invited or make the trip, but when push comes to shove … are you going to be the one to speak up and ask the tough question or change the status quo? How do you become a contributor to the process?
William Mills Agency releases its annual Financial Trade Show Directory each year. This is a great list and a great resource for companies and FIs each year to find the right place to invest in sending people. There must be a reason companies and banks and credit unions invest so much into these industry events. It’s the value that comes from sending their people to learn more about what is happening in the industry. And the best parts of those events, in my humble opinion, are the interactive sessions, open panels, advisory boards, and open forums. When you allow people to communicate and interact by asking questions, that is when true thinking and change happens.
So here is my challenge … if you are clicking on this blog, you are ahead of the curve in following FinTech and being “in the know.” Take that knowledge and do something with it. Check out conferences like AFT, Digital Banking, Money2020, and Finovate. These are only a few, but provide some real opportunities to roll up your sleeves and get involved. And if you are a fintech provider or work for a financial institution, get on an advisor panel. Don’t just join and watch; use your expertise and experience to share with others the trends that you see. How is that company or service provider going to benefit unless you go ahead and give the feedback that is necessary? It will be hard to speak up and especially to be first, but if it is honest and needed … it is rewarding. You are helping your clients and the company that has asked for your contributions.
As much as I love to read what the analysts tell me is going to happen in FinTech, I really prefer what I can touch and see. I prefer to hear it from my peers and the people that work on the front lines and talk to the actual customers and members we are all trying to serve. At the end of the day, that’s what we are all here for. The power of the user, everyone that chooses me and you for their FinTech needs. It’s time we look, listen, use what we’ve learned, and be a FinTech contributor. I’ll be looking for you at the next conference!