NFT Appraiser? Financial-Bot Supervisor? Industry insiders on the unexpected roles they see coming
Money and possessions are evolving in an increasingly digital and virtual world, and financial jobs will also change to keep up. Here’s a look at some new roles those in the industry see emerging.
In-House Bank Hacker
Usually bank security guards keep the bad guys out. How about security guards hired to break in? Large financial institutions have long hired companies to hack into their systems and report back on weaknesses, a process called penetration testing, says Shawn Moyer, co-founder of one of those companies, security-research firm Atredis Partners. A big change that he’s seen in recent years is that financial institutions are employing in-house penetration testers to continuously test their systems. “People have figured out you can’t just do a test once a year. When you’re continuously writing code and you’re continuously deploying new infrastructure, you have to have a continuous penetration-testing process,” he says. It’s always been difficult to find talent, says Mr. Moyer, who has recruited penetration testers for more than 20 years. Now these jobs are even more in demand. Do we need more hackers? “I don’t tend to use that word that much, but yes,” Mr. Moyer says.
The Future of Everything
A look at how innovation and technology are transforming the way we live, work and play.
As our lives increasingly migrate to digital and virtual worlds, we’ll begin to acquire assets in those worlds, says Ken Timsit, managing director of the Cronos blockchain network. At the same time, he foresees the “financialization of everything,” in which anything with intellectual-property value can become a unique digital asset that can be owned–music, games, even sneakers. Last year, collectors spent billions of dollars trading digital art and collectibles, most of which were attached to NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, which act as vouchers of authenticity on the blockchain for virtual goods. So how to assess the value of these virtual assets? Call in the NFT appraiser. Financial institutions will need to hire people from a broad range of industry sectors to help them understand how to properly evaluate digital collectibles, Mr. Timsit says. “Experts from all walks of life will be contributing to calibrating those models.”
Loan Officer as Financial Adviser
Technology developments and regulatory shifts could cut the time it takes to buy and sell a home from a couple of months to a couple of days, predicts Jeremy Wacksman, chief operating officer of real-estate firm Zillow Group Inc. And that could mean loan officers take on a very different role. Now they spend a lot of time running down paperwork: tax returns, pay stubs, credit scores and proof of insurance, Mr. Wacksman notes. Relieved of that, the loan officer of the future could pursue higher-value parts of the job: acting as an adviser and counselor. They’ll have more time to help customers strategize, look for opportunities and prepare financially for their long-term goals. This already exists to a point, he says, but it’s not nearly as widespread as it could be. “Whenever technology makes things more efficient, it allows people to spend their time doing what they do best,” Mr. Wacksman says. “I think you’ve already seen that trend a little bit in the industry, and I think you’ll see that continue, where agents and loan officers get elevated to become advisers and consultants.”
Chief Fintech Officer
What happens when the financial-services part of an online business takes on a life of its own? You may need a chief fintech officer. Housecall Pro, created as a platform to help plumbers, electricians, landscapers and other home-services providers run their businesses, is one example of a development that is happening more often, says the company’s Chief Fintech Officer Ethan Senturia. It was started to help tradespeople do things like make appointments, create estimates, send invoices and take payments. Today, the financial end is a huge part of the company’s business. As demand for financial services grew, the company brought on Mr. Senturia—an entrepreneur who had previously founded an online lending company and wrote about its demise—-to help embed a financial unit in the platform. It offers clients a suite of products to handle their financial needs, including payments, bank transfers, customer financing, payroll and more. In the future, Mr. Senturia says, more companies built around a core product unrelated to finance will need people in roles like his, responsible for providing financial services to customers.
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People are going to need a new kind of financial adviser if they want someone to help them manage their virtual portfolios of NFTs and other assets, says Bertrand Perez, CEO of the Switzerland-based Web3 Foundation. The group, founded by Gavin Wood, co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain, works on initiatives related to decentralizing the web. This new financial-management role will best be filled by a bot, Mr. Perez says, as artificial intelligence will be far better equipped than a human to monitor virtual assets and recommend trades. But humans won’t be completely out of the picture, he says: Humans will be needed to look over the bots’ shoulders to ensure that the recommendations they make are sound. A financial-bot supervisor, in other words. “You will need somebody who would sit on top of everything, who would make sure that whatever those bots are proposing as an outcome to the consumers is always within the scope of the regulations,” Mr. Perez says.