For the financial services industry, it has been a time of constant change. As the United States economy slowly tries to work its way out of the lingering economic slump of the past couple of years, lawmakers and regulators continue to debate exactly what reforms are needed to most effectively create a more stable and transparent financial industry. As consumers retrench, they are reexamining the concept of value, both in terms of the things they personally value as investors, parents, or community stewards, and in terms of value received for their money. Additionally, and perhaps most dramatically, technology is driving innovation in virtually every arena of our lives, including the way we bank.
Some of these changes will be immediately apparent to anyone who has a relationship with a bank or investment manager. Others—the technology platforms that will help service providers comply with new laws, for instance—might not be visible at all, even if their effects are.
“We didn't shut any businesses, sell any business lines, or stop any practices, because we always engaged in fundamentally sound banking. So we're able to lend according to our clients' needs today just as much as we ever have been.”
- JP Nicols
Here are five of the biggest changes in banking and how they may affect you, today and in the future:
1. We’re Going Mobile
It could be argued that this year’s number-one banking game-changer is the growth of smartphones and tablet devices, such as the iPad. A stunning 270 million mobile devices were sold in 2010, a 55 percent increase over 2009. The number of “apps” allowing people to manage their financial lives from anywhere, 365 days a year is exploding even more quickly. Tracking spending, shopping for mortgage rates, and checking on stock prices are some of the more obvious uses currently, but look for proprietary technologies performing more sophisticated applications as well.