When you go to Las Vegas, it’s often about “checking the boxes,” like dinner and a show… and attending anti-money laundering conferences. Well, for ACAMS attendees this afternoon, there was a unique chance to do two of those things at once with the ACAMS Mystery Theatre: A Thriller of a Subject panel.

So what was the mystery the panel was trying to solve? What happened to D.B. Cooper? What happened to the Lindbergh baby? No. Something far more mysterious was discussed.


Before the discussion moved too far, Brian Stoeckert, managing director, Stratis Advisory, explored some of the generational differences between Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials and their attitudes regarding financial institutions. While Baby Boomers helped build many current institutions, their children, and Generation X had a sense of distrust of institutions. Millennials after the recent turbulence of the financial crisis – believe the institutions are largely irrelevant.

As Stoeckert described, despite tendencies to perhaps overshare via social media, Millennials are protective of their information. Add to that their willingness to try new online tools and apps, and that means a lot of traditional financial institutions may think that they are on the outside looking in.

According to a recent PEW survey, 72 percent of mobile payments users are Millennials or Generation  X users, and financial institutions must work to keep pace. Add to this that 90 percent of Millenials have their own devices, according to the same survey, and this means that you have a number of users looking for niche products that financial institutions are often unable to accommodate.

The panel noted that for Millenials, their parents may introduce them to a financial institution, but over time they may move to a new institution that caters more to their needs or expectations.

As Daniel Soto, chief compliance officer, Ally Bank noted, When startups first came into play, they figured they would manage their own financial tools, but with a robust regulatory framework at play, they learned that wasn’t true. To Soto’s point, banks don’t need startups as much as startups need banks.

For financial institutions looking to partner with startups, it’s important to note that these tech focused companies are skilled and managing, or allowing, data to pass through their apps. From IP addresses to gel-location to push notifications, Stoeckert explains, banks need to learn to navigate this capability.

As Soto explained, this means that institutions may need to have a more robust due diligence period when approaching startups, but it also means that both partners need to learn to work together. It also means being more open and forgiving throughout the development of new products.

“No demo goes perfect,” Soto said.

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