The topic is still fintech – financial technology. You might wonder how long I will stay on this subject. The answer is simple: until most people are comfortable with the digital age financial system that has (already) come our way. New financial worlds are materializing before our eyes, and the doors to the old systems are shutting, locking and disappearing into the fog of a past existence. Yet over 90% of us are still in the fog. I’m issuing an invitation to all who would pick up the oculus and peer into an innovative reality that is manifesting now. It is no longer just a virtual thing in a sci-fi movie.
The financial side of fintech is still mostly a matter of familiar, old-school planning. The wise begin by writing mission statements, value propositions, goals and targets. Their math tools include a financial or compound interest calculator, basic spread sheet skills or accounting software to crank out the numbers. These build a comfort level on the financial side, which is the “dog” in our fintech story.
Technology is the tail. Whether we are operating within traditional financial institutions, or we’ve opted for digital offerings, the technology is now daunting. The tail is wagging the dog, and our success in the world of money is increasingly reliant upon our mastery of the technology. So, let’s brainstorm to determine the elements that make a successful tech plan.
Consider these seven strategies. Please read each one carefully and contemplate your own, personal situation. Be mindful not to skip over any one too quickly as you conscientiously prepare for the present reality and anticipate needs that may develop in the near future.
#1 Make upgrading your technology a priority.
Three years ago, I walked into the Apple store prepared to purchase a new computer. A salesperson helped me assess the power, capacity and features of my two-year-old MacBook, evaluating these against my level of usage. He concluded that a new computer was unnecessary for me at that time. I marveled at finding an honest person who could resist the temptation to make a quick sale. But sadly, I have not bothered to re-evaluate my need since then, although my computer usage has changed dramatically. Like many others, I am finding that the newest technology doesn’t connect easily with that of several years ago. We all need to ask the questions: When was my last computer upgrade? Am I overdue? And we should make a plan to take action.
#2 Master the use of your technology.
The value (and fun) of technology lies in understanding it. Otherwise, these expensive gadgets will fail to improve the quality of life and will only serve to increase our overall anxiety. Factored into the monetary cost of personal technology is the cost of learning to use it, measured in time rather than dollars. I have the Apple Support number in my contacts under “Favorites” and I often call them several times in one week – not necessarily to address problems but to learn more about my devices. Stores that sell computers may provide customer support. And other free or reasonably prices services are available – both online and in a classroom environment. The challenge for everyone is to find good support and get help mastering our devices.
#3 Find local servicing for your computer before you’re in a tangle.
Establish a relationship with computer or mobile phone repair facilities and determine exactly who to call if one morning a device simply refuses to turn on. Can you take it back to the place of purchase? Are repairs done in-house or sent out? Asking questions will lead to other “need to know” information. The point is to be prepared prior to a breakdown.
#4 Engage in small group learning settings.
My support system consists of numerous small groups within my larger learning community. I share common interests with these groups, and together we work through tough challenges. The most valuable of these generally consist of four to six people who get together (usually by Zoom) on an “as needed” basis to address specific areas where we keep getting snagged. Whenever I can’t find a small group to meet the need, I simply create one by inviting friends or family members to help solve a tech dilemma. Personal support, comradery and fun abound in small group learning sessions.
#5 Practice, practice, practice.
Although this step is obvious, it is rarely implemented. We engage in training to learn and understand. Then we often move on without practicing and later discover that vital skills and information are lost. Applying skills and using information soon after learning builds a solid base for future use. Practicing alone or teaching it to others is the best way to build competence.
#6 Don’t ever get overloaded.
Avoid tackling so much at once that you feel like a beast of burden, struggling under a heavy load. Instead, learn to recognize your own saturation point—the point at which you simply cannot process any more. As you feel this point approaching, take a break, review and practice. Squeeze everything out of the sponge then return for another soaking. As much as possible, keep the fun and adventure in learning and avoid the anxiety of overload.
#7 Stay in community.
Once involved in a good, supportive learning community, decide to stick and stay. Don’t abandon ship if things take a turn for the worst. Leaving the group should always be a carefully calculated decision, followed immediately by a connection with another group that appears more promising. Never tackle the ever-advancing tech beast alone.
In summary, technology is becoming the primary driver across all economic sectors. But in fintech, the “tech” could soon outweigh the “fin”! We focus on the financial while dodging a potential whack from the technology. The sign that used to read, “Beware of the Dog” now reads, “Beware of the Tail!” I say, “Beware, and prepare!”
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