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A Digital Mindset. Do IFAs, Financial Planners and Financial Brands have it?

I'm rapidly reaching the conclusion that it takes 10 years to develop a digital mindset and it could be longer. Much longer.

I've been online since 1994. 16 years. I've built a network, a club, a gang, a fan club, a following. This has taken me 16 years of relentless activity. Fortunately I love it. Not everyone does.

I've learned how to blog, post, tweet, share YouTube videos, respond to debates, criticisms, write books, make speeches and deal with endless technological challenges of Nokias, BlackBerrys, iPhones, servers, switches and open source software. I moved from Unix, to Windows, to Mac and back again to Windows. I've studied hard. I've read 1000 books. I've met 12,000 people in the last 12 years. I've been to 50 countries. I've joined 600 social networks and tested them to destruction. As I say I love my work. This has not been hard for me.

I have a digital mindet. 

I think digital.

Every problem I am faced with I think how can I solve that problem electronically online. How can I solve that issue digitally.

This is digital thinking. I have digital thinking.

I think such a digital mindset is rare. I think learning it is a lot like learning a new language. I would imagine Mandarin or Cantonese would also take me 10 years to master and probably longer.

Corporations do not have a digital mindset.

Governments do not have a digital mindset.

Institutions do not have a digital mindset.

Thus a digital mindset is clearly a generational change say from 1989-2019 or 1994-2024. It requires its 30 year cycle to be absorbed into society. Can you see the world in 2019 or 2024? Almost impossible to imagine. Different it will be obi-wan.

This realization has made more me sensitive to the slow movement who have the same connectedness goal as the fast movement if I can use that term to describe what I belong to.

Corporations I meet are terrified of Twitter, blogging and placing videos on YouTube. Terrified. Terrified for their company, their brand and themselves. And yes that word is terrified.

These companies wish to embrace the internet, embrace a digital mindset, but they don't know the language. The verbs, the nouns, the rules. Fear encircles them. Facebook kids scare the living daylights out of them. Social Media most consider a new horror movie.

What is to be done? 

Wait. Teach. Do nothing.

Your thoughts welcomed. 

Thomas Power
Chairman of Ecademy


Meet Thomas Power and hear him speak at Social Media in Financial Services in November 2010.  IFAs, Financial Planners, Product Providers and Financial Brands are signing up now at this link.








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Author: Philip Calvert
Posted: Sunday, August 29, 2010 | 4:55:53 PM

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03 September 2010 | 9:52:39 AM  Andy Leggett wrote:

This looks like living proof of an assertion of Dean Kamen's (best-known as the inventor of the Segway Transporter) that it takes technology 15-20 years to be taken up because that's how long it takes for a kid who saw it when he was growing up to become an adult! When the school kids of today, growing up with mobile internet, social networks, posting updates on Facebook and videos on Youtube, hit the workforce, they'll think that's a perfectly normal thing for their company to do.

I suspect Mr Kamen is right although I do think it's funny that he's right. I struggle to really get to grips with why so many people of our generation are so reluctant when we see our kids adopting these things. Indeed some of us were the ones who introduced them! Perhaps seeing them adopt new technology and then run on ahead intimidates many adults but I don't want to make excuses for the timidity (and terror) to which you draw attention.

I picked up Mr Kamen's comment from an interesting interview in the Economist. Here's a link if you'd like to read it:

(This post also appears on IFALife's LinkedIn group)

30 August 2010 | 10:20:16 AM  Bob Bevan wrote:
Thomas, this is a fascinating piece, although I do wonder whether you are doing yourself a disservice by characterising the mindset as ‘digital’ when it might better be described as ‘change oriented’.

I view the world in a very similar way to that which you describe in that I am constantly wondering whether things can be done better so that they deliver higher income, better service or lower cost. Increasingly I find that the solutions are delivered through the application of digital technology, hence I see digital more as the tools than the mentality.

I accept fully that if people want to get the best from these tools it does require a significant and ongoing investment of time so as understand what they are, what they can do and how they should be or are being used. However without first asking the questions, ‘can we do this better’ the benefits of such tools will not be exploited.

As to the attitudes of the corporations, financial services is an inherently conservative industry, especially around the ‘non commoditised’ high end products. The companies have deployed digital technology in non customer facing functions, primarily as a way of driving out cost. However, when it comes to the use of digital tools which might enhance the client relationship, they have limited themselves to ‘web 1.0’ standard websites, primarily because of their fear that the creation of more engaging user experiences will alienate the intermediated sales channels upon which they depend.

In practice such organisations should have a lot less fear of the technology, but be absolutely petrified of the new entrants who have brands to leverage, have fully embraced the technology and existing client banks to exploit.
29 August 2010 | 5:18:42 PM  LifeTalk Admin (Bella) wrote:
Recommended reading to accompany this article:

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