Book review: The Fintech Book

The Fintech Book, a paper version of a decent blog. Sticky bookmarks are mine and do not come as standard
The Fintech Book, a paper incarnation of a decent blog. Sticky bookmarks are mine and do not come as standard

The Fintech Book is a crowdsourced compilation of articles from 168 authors. It’s more of reference book for a reader to dip in and out than reading cover to cover.

The articles are a range of medium to long blog posts, often with accompanying graphs or diagrams. The design layout is well presented with a nice orange theme. Every so often there’s a graphic which has been pasted into the book in its original format, which breaks the nice theme.

It would have been nice to have seen some real heavyweight C-level managers from the big banks or financial institutions provide some ‘keynote style’ Fintech posts in the book. Or at least provide a review of the book among the other 21 endorsements on page one as you open the front cover to add some immediate credibility. Authors from Lloyds (twice), PwC and McKinsey have provided articles, and job titles like “Business Analyst” and “Senior Manager” appear regularly in authors’ descriptions. I don’t intend any disrespect to them – perhaps these are the thought leaders in these organisations.

The third sentence of the book self-describes the authors as entrepreneurs, which always raises a red flag in my mind. Do successful people really describe themselves as entrepreneurs? Quotes such as “Typical of entrepreneurs, we…” don’t sit comfortably with me. I may be overly critical of the authors; however, I’d have preferred to have seen their own (entrepreneurial?) views on the articles themselves rather than this back slapping of an introduction.

Some of the Fintech blog articles are excellent and well written. For example, “My Robo Advisor was an iPod – Applying the Lessons from Other Sectors to Fintech Disruption” by Paolo Sironi from IBM, who describes robo technology exceptionally well. He is one of the only industry commentators to highlight that Robo Advisors are often neither robotic or advisory.

I also liked Vinesh Jha’s comprehensive article on “Crowdsourced Alpha”. I had to read the five-page article a couple of times before it started sinking in (it was my fault… nothing to do with Jha). His article described how crowdsourcing financial forecasts can be used to make investment decisions. These can be tweets, blogs, Facebook posts or even government whitepapers. Jha explains that “authors who have had profitable ideas in the past continue to provide superior trade ideas in the future. Authors are 47% more likely to stay in an extreme performance group than they are to fall to the opposite quartile”. It’s time to go and find those authors.

I could go on with other articles I enjoyed, but I’d be duplicating a large part of the book. There were several articles which I found non-engaging/ downright boring or didn’t add any more information about a Fintech subject which a two sentence Wikipedia introduction could provide.

One of the dangers of this book is that it can go out of date quickly. The authors have set up the Fintech book website which should be much more engaging and interactive. I’d like to search or filter more comprehensively around subject matters and authors for some subjects. The website should be the “living” version of the book… but that would convert the book into a regular blog. You can read some article abstracts on Medium, and if you like those, I recommend you buy the book.

It would be good to produce the same type of book for Instech… disruptive technology in insurance. Hopefully the authors are thinking about this, together with an improved accompanying website.

Disclaimer for The Fintech Book

Now for two disclaimers… there are some Endava clients who appear as authors in the book, including one who doesn’t state their organisation or job title, merely “Fintech Thought Leader” (add a nervous cough here). I don’t know whether this was because their organisation didn’t allow a contribution towards the book.

Also, I was sent the Fintech book by the PR agency for the authors at no cost. This hasn’t had any bearing on this review.

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