By @SimonCocking. Great interview with Andreas Staub Managing Partner – Behavioral Economics Consultancy Group &

 Your background briefly?

My circumstances were very simple and I did not know for a long time where my interests were. Going with the flow seemed to function pretty well.

As I attended school and later on university but the basic studies in economics were listless and aimless. I highly appreciated to read. For that reason I thought German studies would be the right way for me. As well I accomplished a Bachelor degree in German and the literature exam was quiet cool and I enjoyed it very much.

However “after various other decisions” I obtained a Master degree in economics and suddenly I was offered a banking job. But it all happened again unintentionally. During my studies, I worked at several places and had different jobs. I guess it was just an opportunity at the right moment with the right content.

How did you end up doing what you do now?

The perfect timing was 1996 where suddenly topics such as online banking, analytics and «Big Data» were in focus. I have learned coding so I started immediately «fresh» from university without ever seeing a customer before I went to sales units and presented proudly my work. I showed them that with neuronal networks it is possible to reach a great out-of-sample-hit rates and to calculate individual probabilities to sale. Since then, I know how it feels like to be a nerd.

You could also say, that my career started with analytics and big data. 1999 we already had models based on a geographical information system. Each customer and product was geocoded, alike population data and travel distance data were integrated. I think this was quite innovative.

In average, my job content changed every two years. Channelmanagement, Digitalization and business architecture were always main topics. I was always happy…however “after various other decisions” everything changed and my hobby and passion behavioral economics became my occupation. Out of the (financial) comfort zone in a start-up environment! The last three years have been very inspiring and instructive.

Your current role sounds exciting and interesting. What projects are you working on?

Within Fintech and Insurtech the essence is not technology driven. Humans, culture, mind sets and change are main issues incumbents face. I like the statement of Clay Shirky: “A revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new tools, it happens when society adopts new behaviors”.

Fintechs as pure technological innovations are commodities ending in a fierce price competition development. Robo-Advisors are a good example where the “return” to hybrid models was predictable. This is one important evidence based message from behavioral economics: Financial services (banks and insurances) are trusted goods. Addressing social preferences as a crucial behavioral driver is key. Trust, fairness and reciprocity sustain even in a digital world. Relationship value, cooperation and identity are definitely sustainable drivers for differentiation and profitability.

FehrAdvice & Partners (www.fehradvice.com/en/) have clients spread over different industries. In the financial sector, we work on topics such as identity, culture and cultural change, new digital business models, distribution strategy, new product developments and pricing. At the end we implement concrete results. We are the proof that economics respectively behavioral economics passes the reality check and the question about the relevance with distinction. Our tools and evidence based approach allows us to objectify and quantify so-called soft topics, and therefore make them tangible and manageable.

You’re based in Switzerland, how is it for banking innovation, why is this?

Switzerland is an exceptionally interesting base. One of the most innovative countries in the world and additionally banking as a main competence! What else could you want?

But in defiance to the innovative power Switzerland is interestingly shaped from a culture which adopts innovation a bit slower and more controlled. Swiss people dislike disorder or unpredictability and entrepreneurial failure is still afflicted with somewhat negative stigma, contrary to the Anglo-Saxon corporate culture.

In the wider banking / innovation / fintech world, what are you excited about?

„Human First“. Fintech start-ups fail if no social added values are generated. Unfortunately, there is the point where I see a large gap in reality. This is one of the main reasons why banks have so much time to adapt…In the meantime the much-invoked disruption ended in forms of cooperation.

The comprehension of human behavior (habits, preferences, values, social norms) and the specific implications on business models are fascinating. Technology even fascinating too is always plentiful and at the end of the day a commodity. To use human beings as a source of innovation and differentiation is more sustainable. Blockchain? Commodity! You and me? No commodities!

 

Can traditional banks successfully innovate to deal with the rise of FinTech banking disrupters?

The biggest threat for banks are not start-ups. The danger lays in the existing culture. Furthermore even basics such as digital or financial literacy are neglected.

If you could make everyone in Banking do what you told them, what would you command them to do?

Very simple: Think about the corporate culture and how to measure and manage it actively.

Will bitcoin achieve wider adoption or not? What are your thoughts on the viability of wider adoption of cryptocurencies? 

The fact that Bitcoins exist is fascinating and good. Empirical research demonstrates that alternative currencies are rather used as an investment tool and no yet as an extensive mean of payment. After all the fluctuations in value are tremendous. I personally do not have the needs to use Bitcoins for payments. Payments have to be quick, easy and if possible cashless. Anyway the answer to this challenge is not cryptocurrency. My money is already digital and almost real time. I can not recall, when I last withdrew cash.

Which thought leaders do you like to read / follow?

On social media I get to know various interesting people and I am grateful for that. I frequently exchange experience with Spiros Margaris (twitter @SpirosMargaris). A great friendship has developed between us.

I like to read articels of Jim Marous (@JimMarous). His writing style and content is striking. And of course Brett King (@brettking)! But with constraint…he should tweet more 😉

Sebastien Meunier (@sbmeunier) and Florian Graillot (@FGraillot) have very interesting timelines. People like Nigel Walsh (@nigelwalsh) and Matteo Carbone (@MCins_ ) are very present and maintain an ongoing dialogue in the Insurtech field. In Switzerland one adheres for news mainly to Fintech Switzerland (@FintechCH und fintechNews.ch). Personally, I would like to emphasize on Rino Borini (@rinoborini), whose importance in the rankings by no means correctly depicted.

As I said above: At this point, I am falling short on all network friends and would like to thank all interesting people, which are not mentioned for the great interchange.

My interest in the behavioral economics are as well very interdisciplinary. Subjects such as kids, gender, equality and diversity are highly relevant. To monitor and analyze the handling and our behavior with robots and AI seems extremely demanding.

I generally would like to invite all #Tech to confront themselves with behavioral economics. The comprehension of culture, identity and the behavior of individuals per se is the key to success for all businesses.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking