Industries of change: Using sci-fi to predict the future of your business

Industries of change: Using sci-fi to predict the future of your business

Dani Fava | February 25, 2019

Who doesn’t love a good sci-fi movie? Battles in space for control over the universe. Heroes who save the day with help from robots and mind-blowing gadgets. Traveling back in time to change the course of history. It all seems like it’s too good to ever come true.

But did you know that science fiction has predicted countless innovations that we now use in our business and personal lives? The “Back to the Future” movies from the 1980s offered dreams of a world with personal drones, mobile payments, fingerprint recognition, and of course hoverboards. Amazon’s Kindle was designed based on technology described in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age. But, perhaps the most prolific sci-fi movie of them all, in terms of predicting the future of technology, was 2002’s “Minority Report.” It’s absolutely chock full of things we now use—think autonomous cars, personalized advertising, voice-controlled homes, facial and optical recognition, gesture-based computing, and even predictive policing. In fact, more than 100 patents have been issued based on ideas found within the movie!

Now, you may be asking yourself, “What does all this have to do with financial advice?” My answer to you: Everything. That’s because, in a highly commoditized industry such as ours, the way to stand out and move to the top is by providing an exceptional customer experience. And that requires staying on top of the latest innovations. Tomorrow’s clients don’t just want it—they expect it.

How can advisors use sci-fi as the blueprint for innovation?

Let’s start by futurecasting tomorrow’s clients. Who will they be? What will they know? What will they expect? And how will they differ from today’s clients?

They’ve never used a desktop computer. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones have completely taken over the market, and it’s predicted that desktops will soon be obsolete.

They’re technical savants. My niece is only 8 and she just made a movie trailer and asked for a 3D printer for Christmas.

They’ve never watched cable. Instead, they are watching streamed content, some of which has been created by their peers known as influencers—a job opportunity with the potential for pretty significant income.

They prefer videos. They consume their news over videos. They converse with their friends over videos. In other words, visual stimulus is important during communication with these clients.

They have a “fight the power” mentality. According to a report, less than 40% of Gen Z are happy with their bosses and/or teachers.

They’re WAY more interested in buying from a brand that is contributing to their cause. The new cool, expensive sneakers are the ones made out of ocean plastic.

They’re global and more diverse than ever. Gen Z will be the first generation that won’t have a Caucasian majority.

Knowing what you know about who your clients will become, now you can start thinking like a sci-fi writer to model the firm of the future. Think about the possibilities. More than likely, financial advisors will be office-less. Everything can be done via video chat (or perhaps even holograms). Speaking of chats, robots may be transcribing your client discussions to help save you time and even help predict responses and create follow-up notes for you. And Forbes is already testing out AI to author articles, which means advisors could be doing the same in the future for content marketing or personalizing communications. Finally, emotion tracking could be harnessed to help advisors get more accurate results from clients during risk-based questionnaires.

What does the future hold for your firm?

With the rapid rate of innovation these days, anything is possible at this point. The only limit is your own imagination. So, get creative in the way you think about what’s to come and maybe you’ll be at the forefront of tomorrow’s financial advice. I, personally, cannot wait to see what will happen.