In her latest Q&A, ISITC Chair Lisa Iagatta recaps our key business themes, top highlights from 2020, and the future trends we’re watching as we dive deeper into 2021.
1. What surprised you in 2020?
If I had to summarize 2020 in three words, I would say resilience, collaboration, and engagement. Across the industry, there was a mutual determination to roll up our sleeves and continue to get our jobs done with the same efficiency and quality normally expected of us. Shockingly, there wasn’t a halting disruption to the markets. Since no one was traveling, everyone was tethered to our home offices – there were more emails, video calls, and people were actually more communicative. Despite the challenges, we made it work and got it done.
A big reason we were able to do this so successfully was because everyone adopted a collaborative and team-oriented approach. It was great to see increased engagement with virtual events and panels as a real testament to how well everyone communicated through all these changes. We managed to keep our digital communication networks as – if not more – active as ever before.
2. What are your expectations for 2021?
In 2021, we can expect that some of the trends we saw in 2020 will continue; namely, the ability to work from home, and to do so effectively. In the short term, I anticipate that many individuals will be eager to return to the office. With these two trends in mind, we might see a more flexible work environment in the long term, with people in the office some days a week and work from home the others. The industry has changed the way we have conducted business, and it’s hard to imagine things will be exactly the same as before the pandemic.
We are confident that whatever happens in 2021, our industry will be equipped to handle it. This year has certainly been a financial reset. While we won’t stay fully remote forever, things also won’t ever go completely back to the way to the way they were before.
3. What trends are getting underway that people may not know about but will be important?
There are several trends flying under the radar that we can expect to get more attention in 2021. Crypto and digital assets have been a topic of discussion in the past, but have been described in lofty and futuristic terms. This year, firms will get more serious about practical steps around the implementation and regulation of digital assets, keeping in mind the need for increased cybersecurity investment. Additionally, we can expect an increased focus on the unbanked. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many community banks are shutting down, making it even more difficult for local communities to access the banking system. Technology will help alleviate some of this, especially with the growth of fintech’s focus on using technology to bridge the gap and the overall digital divide. Finally, as we’ve seen everything go virtual over the last year, security and privacy’s impact on digital identity will be another huge topic in the new year. With our online presence being stronger than ever before, firms will be taking a more deliberate look at vulnerabilities within the system and investing in systems to ensure that their employees and clients are secured both under remote work structures and the eventual return to the office.
4. What industry trends have been prominent but are now fading (or will soon fade)?
There are several industry trends I anticipate will fade. For one, ISO15022 will become a thing of the past, with ISO20022 as the new standard. In general, we’ll see an overall shift away from community-based standards, one-size-fits-all centralized approach. In 2021, we can expect an increased push for interoperability, supported by distributed ledger technology (DLT), a more flexible structure and movement towards decentralization. This would require different communities to come together and communicate effectively, something we are already seeing from this past year.
There is enormous potential for collective growth and collaboration as we move toward a vendor agnostic system; this year will be about bringing different communities together and fostering partnerships with industry firms, trade organizations, and key stakeholders to redefine our industry’s standards and best practices.
Originally published in Markets Media