To prepare for the fintech revolution, we need to start in schools

“A” is for AI, “B” is for blockchain, and “C” is for …
“A” is for AI, “B” is for blockchain, and “C” is for …
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Finance rules the world, but soon technology will rule finance. If you’re not aware of how technology is already transforming finance, then you’re behind. And if you’re not preparing the next generation of leaders, you’re never going to catch up. As fintech moves from an upstart movement into the mainstream, readying students for the future of finance is vital.

The finance industry is shifting dramatically as new technology innovations take over. The world of finance will no longer be brick-mortar banks or investment firms working off spreadsheets and in-person advisement. Customers will increasingly demand the ability to bank from anywhere on their phone, shift investment plans easily, and more. And within financial institutions, technology disruptions like blockchain, automation and AI, and the evolution of lending data are creating new business models to adapt to quickly.

Technological advancements in this sector are approaching quickly and aggressively. The market experienced a sharp increase in 2018, with global investments topping $57.9 billion, and it’s expected to grow even further.

And CEOs are feeling the pressure to keep up: 70% of global CEOs are concerned about the speed change in technology in the financial sector. This points to a growing issue: There’s a shortage of talent with the right skills to integrate new technology into existing systems within industries disrupted by technology. This is a big issue in finance already and will only become a greater problem as fintech’s presence increases.

Finance students must now be tech students too

To address this global talent shortage within finance, we need to start building the necessary skills at a young age. This will grow the next generation of financial professionals who are well versed in technology and its potential and who will help propel the industry into the future. To prepare for the future of finance, governments and businesses should invest in domestic talent by partnering with educational institutions to develop fintech skills. Incorporating the right education is key to ready students for the financial world they’ll eventually enter.

Luckily, the millennial, Gen Z, and following generations are already primed to handle this shift in the sector gracefully, as many grew up with smart devices, connected homes, and online learning. But schools need to also support intentionally adopting their curriculum—particularly their financial curriculum—to set up current students as the next cutting-edge innovators in finance.

Global programs are beginning to adapt for this need, with Asia being a region to watch. Experts predict that Asia will emerge as “a key center of technology-driven innovation” in the financial sector. As a leader in innovation and schooling, we can look to Singapore to see how a country and institutions within it can promote readying students for the future of finance.

Singapore leading the way in fintech education

Singapore is a prime example of government and institutional support for creating programs that ready the workforce to tackle the impending revolution. It’s working on becoming the top fintech hub in the world and betting on education programs to get there. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has committed to invest S$225 million (around US$167 million) to provide support to reach this goal over a five year period.

A leader in how businesses can invest in this goal, Singapore-based DBS Bank is partnering with schools in the city-state to provide smart watches for primary students. This technology introduces students to digital payments and basic tracking capabilities, like counting steps. Familiarizing students with such technology is an investment in preparing them for the finance world of tomorrow through innovative programs.

At the college level, curriculums are introducing fintech as a subject in itself, incorporating expertise from businesses to inform the programs. One leading university in Singapore is collaborating with a top technology company to develop a fintech curriculum. Other schools are following suit globally, with business schools in places like New York and Europe now offering classes or majors in the subject.

Fintech summits are also a big incubator for enhancing education in the field. Singapore hosts a global summit devoted solely to addressing fintech education needs, and tech-driven finance businesses like DBS send talent to come up with solutions to better incorporate technology into financial education.  

Ultimately, investing in youth is imperative for a country’s success. And countries and businesses should look to Singapore for inspiration, as it sits at the top of the human capital index—a measure of youth lifespan, schooling, and health. With the rise of technology, it’s smart for education to adapt accordingly to prepare their students for the future.

Sooner rather than later, the entire finance sector landscape will look different as digital becomes mainstream through fintech innovations. The industry has major disruption on the horizon, with blockchain improving transactional systems, smartphone banking expanding, data management becoming even more of a priority, and more. With the help of governments, businesses, and schools investing in programs and adapting curriculum, students will be more and more prepared for the future of the financial world.

Voted Global Finance World’s Best Digital Bank 2018, DBS is committed to technology innovation, whether through investing in cutting-edge youth programs or transforming banking to make it effortless. Explore how DBS lets you “Live more, Bank less.”