While futurology is not witchcraft, nor can it be classed as reliable science. The financial sector is currently undergoing major and profound changes, leading to significant uncertainty about the future. This also creates the desire to look forward, to make decisions today that may later tip the proverbial scales. With this in mind, we at SIX are developing future scenarios. They help us reduce the complexity of the world around us, but at the same time offer a differentiated perspective on potential future variability. For me, there are three key points to ensuring that futurology generates added value.
Our method incorporates a wide range of factors that we believe will shape the future. For example, in our latest white paper “Future of the Securities Value Chain”, we work with more than 70 factors such as sustainability, the cloud, the sharing economy, unbundling, protectionism and data protection. We consider potential future trends for each of these factors and then combine these to develop scenarios with varying probabilities of occurrence. A heterogeneous range of sources is absolutely crucial for forward-looking statements. In addition to internal experts and analysts, views from outside are also essential. We already know, for instance, that companies from outside the industry are attacking banks’ business models. The fact that there are now hardly any visionaries/contrarians who do not express their opinions in the form of a tweet, blog, paper or book is also an advantage. Interviews, conferences and a great deal of reading produce a very solid basis for us to ultimately define scenarios and probabilities of occurrence.
Our future scenarios are designed first and foremost to stimulate discussion. It is entirely possible that some of the content will be at odds with our current activities. We discuss these points together, forcing us to step out of our comfort zone. We must be proactive in the debate on what the future holds, even if this is uncomfortable, as we would otherwise deny ourselves the opportunity to make important decisions now.
As the saying goes, paper is patient. It is therefore important to work consciously with the results. For example, the future scenarios help us define key innovation targets with the business units or draw up roadmaps for developing new products and services. The findings enable us to generate added value for our customers and the Swiss financial center in an even more targeted manner.