The greatest risk is the one not taken

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In this post, Fernn Lim talks about BankNOvating for the Millennials. Leading up to the Degree Show, she shares her perspective of the Phoenix as an Innovation Manager.

The Phoenix


The earth is silent

My ashes lay still

I am the Phoenix

Watch me come through


I’ll regenerate, I’ll renew

With my blaze in place

Change is in lieu


I’ll rise and you’ll fall

With my liquid practice

I will transform them all


A new day awaits

The sun rises high

With my flames burning brightly

It’s time to bid the legacy goodbye

In 1994, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporations famously remarked: “Banking is necessary. Banks are not”.  While some might challenge that the claim was exaggerated, today, this controversial statement might not seem that contentious after all. With continuing technology advancements, disruptors who constantly redefine what banking can be and the increasing expectations of the Millennials, it is evident that the banking industry is in the middle of a rampant disruption and it is only the beginning.

To survive this wave of disruption and a future of liquid modernity, banks need innovation managers who are flexible and adaptable; individuals who are equipped with a unique set of skills; people who are unafraid to think, challenge, create and destroy plans; practitioners who embrace taking risks and failure. We call these people, The Phoenix.

For my research, I’ve discovered that the Millennials are a complex and diverse group of individuals with several unmet banking needs. Banks and the Millennials do not have a common understanding of what banking means in the current era. This leads to mis-matched expectations, ineffective innovation efforts and an increasing number of frustrated Millennials. In my paper, I’ve challenged banks to innovate for the Millennials through the application of the User-Centered Open Innovation model (UCOI) in three opportunity areas: – (i) Redefine banking, (ii) Rethink banks’ innovation strategy and (iii) Reconnect with the Millennials. Each recommendation is risky and the change may be irrevocable. But fortune favours the brave and banks need Phoenixes who dare to create and destroy perfect plans, find value in unexpected places and turn disruptions into new markets.

With an increasing number of disruptors and the gargantuan gap in the Millennial market, the cautionary tale remains; if banks do not innovate to retain their customers, non-banks will. Banks need to take the much-needed step of risk and question: What needs to be broken to make way for change? Perhaps it is time for banks to break their traditional mindset and morph themselves to connect with the Millennials. The transformational road ahead will be challenging but the gamble is out for the wise to perceive.

To learn more about the Phoenix and Fernn’s research, stay tuned for the upcoming MAIM 2015 Degree Show, taking place at Central Saint Martins in the week starting on the 23rd of June.