BItcoin ATMs, Martian-themed non-fungible tokens, dogecoin millionaires? It’s safe to say that the financial sector doesn’t look anything like it used to.
Take cryptocurrency, for example. Once seen as a passing technology for the Silicon Valley elite, it has become a powerful force in finance with the potential to radically transform society and revolutionize the way people save and borrow money.
“For most people, financial services aren’t exactly cool,” says Akin Sawyerr, T’03, who advises fintech companies and ventures in Africa as managing director of Feleman, a pre-seed investor and builder decentralized financial networks. “No one really spends a lot of time thinking about their bank, but if you tell the average person they can interact with the stars or musicians they care about, use a non-fungible token and find like-minded people. ideas that also share those interests very easily, and then all of a sudden this digital world comes into its own because you can relate to people.
Meanwhile, more and more socially responsible investors are demanding that their investments reflect their personal values, driving interest in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing to an all time high. Last year, ESG investing set a record, with $357 billion allocated to sustainable investments, more than four times the total from three years ago, according to Morningstar. The COVID-19 pandemic and the continued injustices suffered by people of color have sparked further interest in these trends, with renewed calls for social justice and more equal governance structures.
Within financial institutions themselves, change is also underway. Wall Street has long been dominated by white men, but women and people of color are entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before. In fact, at the start of 2021, female representation in financial services was generally higher, although corporate leadership was still dominated by men, according to research by McKinsey, suggesting that there are still many room for improvement.
Below, we dive deeper into these trends and present Finance 2.0 from the perspective of our alumni who have expertise in the areas of cryptocurrency, impact investing, and diversity. Twenty years from now, we can expect the finance industry to diversify, do good for the planet, and make the most of exciting technological advancements. Read on to find out how the industry has evolved and what progress it still needs to make.
Tricia Winton D’83, T’89
Global Head of ESG, Bain Capital
Mary Flounders Green D’88, T’95
Client Portfolio Manager, Federated Hermes
On the prevalence of ESG investing
Once seen as a niche investment strategy, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is becoming mainstream as investors discover new opportunities to combine purpose and profit. Continue Reading
Akin Sawyer T’03
Managing Director, Feleman; Pre-seed investor, Octav Labs
Crypto for good
When Akin Sawyerr T’03 started looking for an effective way to provide financial access to unbanked Africans, he quickly realized that cryptocurrency was the best way forward. Continue Reading
Dawson his many T’10 horses
Senior Vice President, Head of Native American Banking, Commercial Banking, Wells Fargo
Elizabeth Jimenez T’19
Vice President, Strategic Risk, Citi
Make DEI your business
Wall Street was never known for being a diverse place to work, but that’s finally starting to change. Banks is pledging to hire more women and people of color and talking about complex racial issues that were once rarely talked about. Continue Reading
MORE: 5 strategies to advance DEI in your organization with Director of Diversity and Inclusion Laura Shen T’17