With technology playing an increasingly critical role at the heart of financial services firms, Nathalie Andersson, Fintech Lead at Jersey Finance, takes a look at how firms are adopting technologies and turning to digital innovation to ensure their future success…

Q: Given the pace of change of technological evolution, what direction do you see fintech taking in the immediate future?

Nathalie Andersson (NA): The pace of change really is the key challenge. The impact of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the business world, for instance, has been a key theme over the first half of 2023 – it’s hard to think that ChatGPT was only launched at the end of November 2022, so it’s been around for less than a year. Yet it is now a common part of the business world.

Depending on who you listen to, we have anything from either a decade to just a few months to really get to grips with AI technologies before we risk getting left behind. While the reality is probably somewhere in the middle, there’s no doubt that the direction of travel is towards greater automation, and that digital expertise will form an increasingly important part of our proposition as an International Finance Centre (IFC).

We’re seeing it throughout all of our services, from the world of private wealth through to institutional investment. We recently did some research with WealthBriefing on the digitalisation of assets within Jersey’s wealth management sector, which found that private investors are embracing a much closer relationship with the digital environment. Equally, a white paper we published with IFI Global on tokenisation sets out the case for digital assets and tokenisation to significantly transform the cross-border alternative funds space too.

Q: How optimistic should we be about these new technologies?

NA: Specifically for finance, the emphasis when it comes to digital adoption is on productivity and efficiency. For senior leaders, for example, greater automation and the use of AI tools should drive better decision-making, because they’ll have quicker access to better data that’s presented in a clearer way, with more informed insight.

Equally, we believe that good use of technology cannot be done without good input from people. In fact, as a result of technological progress, we should expect to see both new roles developing that are more focused on harnessing technology to meet specific issues, as well as new digital skills needed from traditional finance roles to work together with technology. That means new opportunities, but it also means addressing a skills challenge, which is something we’re very focused on as an IFC.

Q: How is Jersey addressing that skills challenge?

NA: We believe that our fintech strategy is supportive of Jersey’s digital aspiration, and we will continue to expand our industry’s tech skills base through training, awareness, and guidance to embed technology adoption and use and develop a supportive network of providers. We’re doing that in various ways – for instance, we hold a series of lunch and learn sessions for our members on fintech trends, skills, data protection, AI and the fintech landscape in different regional markets. The evidence shows that firms are keen to ensure they are continuing to move up the fintech maturity ladder by adopting an innovative mindset and empowering their people with fintech skills for the future.

Q: How well placed is Jersey to take advantage of fintech?

NA: Overall, we’re well placed. We have a fantastic infrastructure: since 2018, every premises on the Island has had access to full-fibre gigabit broadband, helping to make Jersey the most well-connected jurisdiction in Europe. However, there is still work to be done to encourage a faster pace of technology adoption by the industry.

Collaboration is key which is why we get involved in various international forums, such as the Inclusive Fintech Forum in Kigali earlier this year. Engagement with on and off island vendors is also critical, highlighted with our DemoDay in the spring. We’ve also partnered with Digital Jersey to create a new fintech match-making platform, ProMatch, which we think will play a really positive role in bringing together our financial services and digital communities.

Jersey Finance, Digital Jersey, the Government of Jersey and the JFSC collaborate continuously to drive the adoption of fintech in financial services, which is a key strategic priority across all the agencies.

Firms appreciate the need to be constantly looking ahead to the next thing to ensure they don’t get left behind in a world that is continuously changing. People power will continue to be core to the IFC proposition – but they will increasingly be aided and boosted by fintech.

This article was originally published in Business Brief magazine.