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4ir Skills In Fintech

Blog by Jeannine van der Linden, CEO of PayPugs BV.

The fintech market is growing rapidly and in contrast to  traditional financial services, we see more and more that a different set of skills are being called for.  One striking set of skills important to the development of fintech as a financial alternative are those we see associated with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

I think that key to the idea of the 4IR is there is more to the change in the air that we see all around us than just the uptake of technologies. Technologies are tools and we have always had tools. But there is an interactive knock on effect of major developments in technology — our tools change us and the way we look at the world even as we invent them. So there needs to be a fundamental shift in the notions around f what 4IR means in an increasingly globalised world that prizes mobility and connectedness.

One lens to look at this through is the ability to imagine and predict change, which Phillip Tetlock has done a lot of research into. According to him, it makes little  difference whether you are smart, have deep knowledge of your field, have access to classified information or have an advanced degree. 

None of this matters in terms of how well you can predict and adapt to the near term future; the most significant variation has actually to do with  your way of thinking, which he divides into what he calls ‘fox’ and ‘hedgehog’ thinking.

A fox has many ideas. A hedgehog has one big idea. It turns out that having any big idea to which you are fundamentally committed makes you far less likely to be a good predictor and so makes you less able to adapt to change. Fox thinking involves scepticism, being comfortable with uncertainty, and with a virtue which is not currently terribly fashionable, and that is being humble — Humble enough to change your mind when new information appears.

Skills such as originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion, and negotiation will rise in value, as well as capabilities such as attention to detail, resilience, flexibility, and complex problem solving.

It must be said that creativity and an understanding of design thinking – and by that I mean a human-centred approach anchored in understanding human needs, and rapid prototyping with personalised variations – are relatively new skills, which are certainly worth cultivating now with an eye to the future.

There are of course also technical skills and domain based skills in great demand now, and new ones will be called for in the future. However, as education also becomes more accessible and less  one of the gateways to power, the ability and willingness to learn will be more important than what you actually learn. 

Everyone in the world will fairly soon have all the published information in the world instantly to hand, and so the ability to sort out the wheat from the chaff, to control and manage the firehose of information we are subjected to every single day, is a truly vital skill. 

It is one part of the human brain and central nervous system is not really well positioned to do well, which is why I think we see so much difficulty all around us in assessing and evaluating the truth of information.  

We either overestimate our abilities in this area — which has led to a real failure to respect real expertise — or underestimate them — which can lead to an unfortunate deference to anything said by people we agree with on other things.  In addition, I think skill in languages is likely to become very much in demand going forward.

Companies that do not pay attention to skills development – upskill, reskill and skills development, run the risk of becoming history — that is, being forgotten. They will also likely  struggle to attract the best people, who value skills development and desire a lifelong learning process.

In the end, we are all moving in the same direction, towards a straightforward method of managing business in a complex financial world that is increasingly digitising. 

From PayPugs’ perspective, that direction is the one where we provide the best service possible to our clients and continue to innovate, integrating ease of business and international knowhow into our core processes and behaviour.

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