Key takeaways: 'Financial planners need to be good storytellers'

Foco’s managing director Michael Taggart bores audiences with yet another old family photo

Foco’s managing director Michael Taggart bores audiences with yet another old family photo

In case you missed it (or, #ICYMI if you think in 280-character bursts), last week our great leader, AKA Foco’s managing director Michael Taggart, appeared on New Model Adviser’s Planning People podcast to explain why he thinks ‘Financial planners need to be good storytellers’.

New Model Advisers’ features editor Ollie Smith and Head of UK Audience Development for Citywire, Ian Horne, were also in the studio, chatting with Michael about “the powerful impact of narrative in financial planning” and crucially, how advisers can apply storytelling principles when dealing with clients, even if they don’t think of themselves as particularly creative.

The following four key takeaways make a lot more sense for advisers when Michael explains them, of course, plus we’ve left out the really exciting bits, like chat about his forthcoming book, who won the pre-interview quiz (it was brutal), the impact of our “scatty minds” and “14-second daydreams”, so now you’ll have to listen - haha!

The podcast is succinct enough that you can listen while you’re driving home or doing the washing-up perhaps, so without spoiling it:

“Stories need to have”

“…a structure - a protagonist, someone we care about.“

“the ‘what if’ moment”

“A struggle…”

“A character arc.”

We hope that when you hear the pod and get some more context around these four points, you’ll be raring to go so for all the Michael-isms you can handle, download our free five-step guide to building your own content strategy at your leisure.

Guest Blog: Open Banking


In last week’s Fintech TempCheck we asked some of the leading lights in fintech about the recent roll-out of Open Banking and how it’s coming along. We got a lot of great responses, so we decided to select a couple that really stood out for this week’s Guest Blog.

Louise Beaumont, co-chair of the Open Banking Working Group at TechUK

Tweet Louise  @louisehbeaumont,   @sr_   and  @techUK

Tweet Louise @louisehbeaumont, @sr_  and @techUK


That six of the nine banks weren’t fully ready for the initial Open Banking compliance deadline is disappointing but not entirely surprising as the January 13 date was always viewed as a ‘rolling start’ to open banking. The six-week testing phase will confirm that the open API implementations that are ready are indeed standard, and thus capable of delivering open banking as the regulator intended.
For consumers, open banking appears to be nothing more than a change of Ts and Cs and a lot of scary looking legalese around the dangers of sharing data with third parties. The communication from the banks to consumers and SMEs has been poor to date, and must improve to genuinely help people understand the opportunities available as the open data future evolves, as well as how to stay safe.
The open future starts here; consumers and small business can now start to benefit from a hyper-personalised environment, with predictive and pre-emptive services that dynamically flex and flow as financial needs change, and all based on the willingness to securely share the data they generate. That is vastly different from the financial services experience to date with monolithic banking products that are mass-marketed at - with no consideration to - the individual.
In a new world built around the smarter use of data, large holders of data such as energy and telco firms, fintechs and the tech titans could deliver financial services either individually or through collaboration. They could anticipate spending patterns and usage, comingle data from multiple sectors to surface and satisfy un-met or under-served needs. Amazon, Facebook and others have a distinct advantage as they are designed with data at their core, with a huge incumbent user base and an ability to be at the forefront of customer engagement - while training us to adopt new services.

Jamie Campbell, head of awareness, Bud

Tweet Jamie  @ JCtheOriginal

Tweet Jamie @JCtheOriginal

Well so far so... much as can be expected. It was never going to be this time bomb count-down to January 13th. That date was the day the first companies would receive their regulation and gain access to the APIs (Application Programme Interface) from banks and that was the day banks had to aim for to make those APIs available. Only one bank made the deadline: Lloyds.
So let’s talk about what we have learnt so far:
  1. Customer awareness around what Open Banking is, is still low. This is likely down to the unclear explanation from institutions, limited coverage in the build up of the launch and few relatable use-cases in the market. Finance needs to get better at bringing the rest of the population with it as it tries to make radical change.
  2. Finding out who the regulated companies are in the space is not easy. The new licences: AISP (Account Information Service Provider) and PISP (Payment Initiation Service Provider) are what gives third party access to customer data on their request, but for a normal customers, how do they find out who the regulated parties are? Currently it's case by case, looking up the FCA registration number. But if you are looking for a long list of service providers it involves downloading CSVs and cross referencing numbers with names... I did it, it ain’t pretty.
  3. More time is needed. Across the board, time is needed to test the experience of all of these services. Whether it's account aggregation or initiating payments, the only way this is going to make a big impact is if people want to use it. For people to want to use it, it needs to show value (which it does), it needs to be secure (which it is) and it needs to be easy (which, arguably, it isn’t). Time will be best spent getting the customer journeys and value propositions correct going forward.
But, it’s only a few weeks in. As the Open Banking Implementation Entity said, this is a ‘rolling start’. Let’s check back in six months.


Want to know what’s hot in fintech? Then check out our weekly Tech & Tonic, which covers the latest news in the industry and subscribe to our fortnightly thought-leadership series, Fintech TempCheck.

You’re a thought leader? Then email us at  so we can add you to our list and we’ll be in touch.

Tech & Tonic: Ripple makes waves while big banks tread water


What's been happening in the world of fintech this week? Glad you asked. Pour yourself a glass of something nice and read on.


Float for Funding Circle
Funding Circle, the UK's biggest peer-to-peer lending platform, is preparing to hire advisers to oversee a £1bn-plus London flotation. Sky News reported that the company has told investment banks it will hold a beauty parade towards the end of the first quarter of 2018, with a listing possible as soon as the late autumn.

Ripple makes waves
The market value of Ripple, also known as XRP, rose more than 50% as markets closed last Friday (Dec 28), to a record £63bn. Ripple continued to climb over the weekend, the Guardian reported, peaking at over £74bn, surpassing Ethereum (£53bn) as the second most valuable cryptocurrency after Bitcoin.

Big banks set to miss Open Banking deadline
Five UK banks have been given more time by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to comply with Open Banking regulations, according to City AM. Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), HSBC, Santander and Bank of Ireland appealed to the CMA for a delay to the January deadline.

Due some credit
US-based fintech firm, Nova Credit, which helps immigrants build a credit history, has been named among other fintechs as a 'one to watch' according to Financial Innovation Labs, which is an initiative between the Financial Services Innovation Centre and JP Morgan Chase. 

Pointless predictions
Fancy something more lighthearted with your Tech & Tonic? Antony Peyton, Banking Technology's deputy editor, has made his so-called 'pointless' predictions for 2018. They are funny.

Did we miss any? 



Put on your tin hats, Big Banks - Silicon Roundabout is Coming!

Fintech visionary: Jeff Tijssen of Capco

Fintech visionary: Jeff Tijssen of Capco

By Michael Taggart

Which one of the following three statements is false?

1.     Patrick, the oldest known bare-nosed wombat to have walked the Earth, died a virgin at 32 years of age last spring;

2.     Our chances of being killed by a vending machine are actually twice as large as our chances of being bitten by a shark;

3.     Around three quarters of senior bankers believe that digitisation will affect their business model.

That’s right, it’s the last one. It's not only false but, astonishingly, the exact opposite is the actual truth – some 76% of senior bankers believe their model will remain unaffected by fintech.

Yeah, right. And I’m Patricia, the straight-laced lady wombat who wouldn't make Patrick happy.

That astonishing stat was just one of maybe a dozen that surprised a rapt audience of students, bankers and entrepreneurs at this week’s Fintech Visionaries lecture at Queen Mary University in East London.

We were in the hands of a passionate and engaging Jeff Tijssen, head of fintech at technology consultancy Capco, who adroitly crafted a picture of an unstoppable revolution in the way we are using financial products and services.

Far from failing to affect the business model of banks, this earthquake began rumbling a long time ago. As Tijssen reminded us, it’s already two and a half years since JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warned in his annual letter to shareholders "Silicon Valley is coming”.

Dimon meant startups were coming for Wall Street, innovating in areas like lending and payments that were key to ‘traditional’ institutions like JPMorgan.

As it goes, JPM decided to embrace those precocious businesses by working out how to collaborate with them. As a result, it has become significantly focused on fintech, investing in dozens of companies, including Motif, Square and Prosper.

In fact, despite the apparent so-laid-back-we’re-horizontal attitude of senior bankers, the big banks now want to become tech companies themselves, Tijssen told us.

Hardly surprising when you consider that the world’s five biggest companies – in order from largest, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook – are all tech companies.

So they have so-called ‘accelerators’ in which they incubate fintech start-ups. For example, Barclays has Techstars near Old Street's 'Silicon Roundabout' and even the Bank of England is getting in on the game.

But the tendency has been to keep the bespectacled hipsters with perfectly manicured beards – this is, so far, a male-dominated movement – at arms length, tucked away among the converted warehouses of Shoreditch.

And therein lies the problem, Tijssen told us. The big banks are often playing at fintech without fully integrating the innovation it brings into their operations.

This might be born of complacency, we learned via some more stunning statistics courtesy of our host.

Only 3% of us switched our bank accounts in the last year. Conversely, a significant 37% have been with their bank 20 years or more.

The ‘Big Four – RBS, HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays – run 77% of UK personal accounts and 85% of the business banking market. This represents a big challenge to the main ‘challengers’ – Monzo, Atom, Tandem, Tide, Civilised, and Starling Bank.

So what’s next? Well, as ever, the Millennials are the ones to watch and – guess what – they’re scaring the bejesus out of the grey-haired board-level defenders of the status quo.

A whopping 73% of Millennials want digital-only relationships with their banks, according to a recent Gallup poll, and 69% say they would try a financial offering from a non-financial brand, like Facebook or WhatsApp (Millenial Disruption Index).


So, what’s the best way for the traditional financial institutions to face this challenge? Tijssen had thoughts:

“Don’t think innovation is building proof of concepts or innovation labs or cool offices with slides and pool tables. The challenge is: how will you integrate fintech into your business?"

All in all, a fascinating and eye-opening talk, whether you were a banker, a fintech CEO or a student eyeing up a career. This free event was one of a series given by Queen Mary Business and Enterprise Society – I’d highly recommend checking out future events.

Foco specialises in fintech PR and marketing - please email Michael Taggart for more information.