The 7 Major Flaws of the Global Financial System
Since the invention of banking, the global financial system has become increasingly centralized.
In the modern system, central banks now control everything from interest rates to the issuance of currency, while government regulators, corporations, and intergovernmental organizations wield unparalleled influence at the top of this crucial food chain.
There is no doubt that this centralization has led to the creation of massive amounts of wealth, especially to those properly connected to the financial system. However, the same centralization has also arguably contributed to many global challenges and risks we face today.
Flaws of the Global Financial System
Today’s infographic comes to us from investment app Abra, and it highlights the seven major flaws of the global financial system, ranging from the lack of basic access to financial services to growing inequality.
1. Billions of people globally remain unbanked
To participate in the global financial sector, whether it is to make a digital payment or manage one’s wealth, one must have access to a bank account. However, 1.7 billion adults worldwide remain unbanked, having zero access to an account with a financial institution or a mobile money provider.
2. Global financial literacy remains low
For people to successfully use financial services and markets, they must have some degree of financial literacy. According to a recent global survey, just 1-in-3 people show an understanding of basic financial concepts, with most of these people living in high income economies.
Without an understanding of key concepts in finance, it makes it difficult for the majority of the population to make the right decisions – and to build wealth.
3. High intermediary costs and slow transactions
Once a person has access to financial services, sending and storing money should be inexpensive and fast.
However, just the opposite is true. Around the globe, the average cost of a remittance is 7.01% in fees per transaction – and when using banks, that rises to 10.53%. Even worse, these transactions can take days at a time, which seems quite unnecessary in today’s digital era.
4. Low trust in financial institutions and governments
The financial sector is the least trusted business sector globally, with only a 57% level of trust according to Edelman. Meanwhile, trust in governments is even lower, with only 40% trusting the U.S. government, and the global country average sitting at 47%.
5. Rising global inequality
In a centralized system, financial markets tend to be dominated by those who are best connected to them.
These are people who have:
- Access to many financial opportunities and asset classes
- Capital to deploy
- Informational advantages
- Access to financial expertise
In fact, according to recent data on global wealth concentration, the top 1% own 47% of all household wealth, while the top 10% hold roughly 85%.
On the other end of the spectrum, the vast majority of people have little to no financial assets to even start building wealth. Not only are many people living paycheck to paycheck – but they also don’t have access to assets that can create wealth, like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or ETFs.
6. Currency manipulation and censorship
In a centralized system, countries have the power to manipulate and devalue fiat currencies, and this can have a devastating effect on markets and the lives of citizens.
In Venezuela, for example, the government has continually devalued its currency, creating runaway hyperinflation as a result. The last major currency manipulation in 2018 increased the price of a cup of coffee by over 772,400% in six months.
Further, centralized power also gives governments and financial institutions the ability to financially censor citizens, by taking actions such as freezing accounts, denying access to payment systems, removing funds from accounts, and denying the retrieval of funds during bank runs.
7. The build-up of systemic risk
Finally, centralization creates one final and important drawback.
With financial power concentrated with just a select few institutions, such as central banks and “too big too fail” companies, it means that one abject failure can decimate an entire system.
This happened in 2008 as U.S. subprime mortgages turned out to be an Achilles Heel for bank balance sheets, creating a ripple effect throughout the globe. Centralization means all eggs in one basket – and if that basket breaks it can possibly lead to the destruction of wealth on a large scale.
The Future of the Global Financial System?
The risks and drawbacks of centralization to the global financial system are well known, however there has never been much of a real alternative – until now.
With the proliferation of mobile phones and internet access, as well as the development of decentralization technologies like the blockchain, it may be possible to build an entirely new financial system.
But is the world ready?
Visualizing the Importance of Trust to the Banking Industry
In the digital age, the issue of trust is emerging as the game-changing factor in how consumers choose financial services brands.
Visualizing the Importance of Trust to the Banking Industry
In the digital age, money is becoming less tangible.
Not only is carrying physical cash more of a rarity, but we are now able to even make contactless payments for many of the products and services we use on the fly.
Our financial transactions are starting to be analyzed and optimized by artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, investments and bills are paid online, and even checks can now be deposited through our phones. Who has the time to visit a physical bank these days, anyways?
Trust in the Digital Age
The migration of financial services to the cloud is increasing access to banking solutions, while breaking down barriers of entry to the industry. It’s also creating opportunities for new service offerings that can leverage technology, data, and scale.
However, as today’s infographic from Raconteur shows, this digital migration has a crucial side effect: trust in financial services has emerged as a dominant driver of consumer activity.
This likely boils down to a couple major factors:
Financial services are becoming less grounded in physical experiences (using cash, visiting a branch, personal relationships, etc.)
- Personal Data
Consumers are rightfully concerned about how personal data gets treated in the digital age
Further, the above factors are compounded by memories of the 2008 Financial Crisis. These events not only damaged institutional reputations, but they elevated trust to become a key concern and selling point for consumers.
Trust, by the Numbers
In general, trust in banks has been slowly on the rise since hitting a low point in 2011 and 2012.
At the same time, consumers are consistently ranking trust as a more important factor in their decision of where to bank. To the modern consumer, trust even outweighs price.
Top Five Factors for Choosing a Bank:
- Ease and convenience of service (47%)
- Trust with the brand (45%)
- Price/rate (43%)
- Service resolution quality and timeliness (43%)
- Wide network coverage of ATMs (40%)
It’s important to recognize here that all five of the above factors rank quite closely in percentage terms. That said, while they are all crucial elements to a service offering, trust may be the most abstract one to try and tackle for companies in the space.
With this in mind, how can financial services leverage tech to increase the amount of trust that consumers have in them?
Tech Factors That Would Increase Consumer Trust:
- Reliable fraud protection (36%)
- Technology solves my problems (13%)
- Useful mobile application (9%)
Better fraud protection capability stands out as one major trust-builder, while designing technology that is useful and effective is another key area to consider.
Visualizing the Future of Banking Talent
Banking talent is undergoing a fundamental shift. This infographic explores how banks are adapting to rapid automation and digitization in the industry.
Visualizing the Future of Banking Talent
View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here
Many organizations say that their greatest asset is their people. In fact, Richard Branson has famously stated that employees come first at Virgin, ranking ahead of customers and shareholders. So, how do businesses effectively manage this talent to drive success?
This question is top of mind for many bank CEOs. As processes become increasingly automated and digitized, the composition of banking talent is changing – and banks will need to become adept at hitting a moving target.
Six Ways Banks are Becoming Talent-First
Today’s infographic comes from McKinsey & Company, and it explores six ways banks are becoming talent-first organizations:
1. They understand future talent requirements.
43% of all bank working hours can be automated with current technologies.
Consequently, talent requirements are shifting from basic cognitive skills to socio-emotional and technological skills. Banks will need to analyze where they have long-term gaps and develop a plan to close them.
2. They identify critical roles and manage talent accordingly.
It is estimated that just 50 key roles drive 80% of bank business value. Banks will need to identify these roles based on data rather than traditional hierarchy. In fact, 90% of critical talent is missed when organizations only focus at the top.
Then, banks must match the best performers to these roles and actively manage their development.
3. They adopt an agile business model.
Banks will need to shift from a hierarchical structure to an agile one, where leadership enables networks of teams to achieve their missions. As opportunities come and go, teams are reallocated accordingly.
This flexible structure has many potential benefits, including fewer product defects, lower costs, shorter time-to-market, increases in customer satisfaction, and a bump in employee engagement.
4. They use data to make people decisions.
Instead of making decisions based on subjective biases or customary practices, banks will need to rely on the power of data to:
For example, company data can be used to develop a heatmap of the roles with the highest attrition rates. Leaders can then focus their retention efforts accordingly.
5. They focus on inclusion and diversity.
Gender and ethnicity diversification leads to higher financial performance, better decision making, higher employee satisfaction, and an enhanced company image.
Industry-leading banks will set measurable diversity goals, and re-evaluate all processes to expose unconscious biases. For example, one organization saw 15% more women pass resume screening when they automated the process.
6. They ensure the board is focused on talent.
Only 5% of corporate directors believe they are effective at developing talent.
To be successful, boards will need to recognize Human Resources (HR) as a strategic partner rather than as a primarily transactional function. The CEO, CFO, and CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer) form a group of three that makes major decisions on human and financial capital allocation.
CEOs worldwide see human capital as a top challenge, and yet they rank HR as only the eighth or ninth most important function in a business. Clearly, this is a disconnect that needs to be addressed. To keep up with rapid change, banks will need to bring HR to the forefront – or risk being left behind.
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