The more things change, the more they stay the same

The pace of technological and regulatory change in financial services is enough to make your head spin. No sooner has a new technology emerged and begun to impact the way banks and customers operate, it’s superseded by a new development and the caravan rolls on.

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Think how historically digital currencies and decentralised finance were more a theoretical idea compared with the reality today where banks and companies are using these instruments and distributed ledger technologies to conduct real financial transactions.

"The technology we use and the methods to produce and distribute the content may have changed, but the mission largely remains the same as it was when Andrew and the team set out in early 2014.”

The prominence of financial technology companies (fintechs) and the advancements made across payments and digital banking would have been difficult comprehend 20 years ago when cash and cheques still reigned supreme.

Paying for everything on your phone, driving an electric vehicle connected to a household battery, linking household appliances via an app or having an artificial intelligence program write your emails or essays for you would have seemed fanciful.

Innovations in sustainable finance and environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles have become crucial in how we deal with climate change and how we fund the trillions of dollars of investment needed for energy transition and net zero emissions goals.

The acceleration of complex regulation and capital requirements for banks and financial services companies as regulators try to keep up with these developments could provide full-time jobs for a whole team of people.

In essence it’s these trends and themes that bluenotes was created to chronicle. For almost 10 years now bluenotes has been analysing these developments and providing insights into the world of financial services, regulation, policy and technology.

The team and I now have the honour of steering bluenotes through its next iteration after the founding managing editor Andrew Cornell hung up his boots last month.

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The technology we use and the methods to produce and distribute the content may have changed, but the mission largely remains the same as it was when Andrew and the team set out in early 2014. Approaching the first anniversary late that year, Andrew wrote:

“The target audience was business, in a broad sense – not just corporate customers but policy makers, regulators, investors, financial sector participants, small business people, academics. The sort of audience who might read the business papers or online publications from Wharton or McKinsey.”

“The content had to be credible – credible enough to actually be run in those publications. Indeed, part of the motivation behind bluenotes was the recognition the modern media faces increasing challenges to resource and publish the kind of journalism the bluenotes audience wants to read or watch.”

“That journalism is thought leadership. We aren’t out to replace the traditional media, bluenotes is a niche publication, we need to bring some added value to whatever we produce, not replicate what is already out there. Our aim is quality not quantity, insight not speed.”

These over-arching aims have not changed that much in the last decade and bluenotes still aspires to these goals.

Traditional long form written stories will be complemented by short-form video, podcasts, infographics, specialised social media cuts and graphics as well as animated visualisations of complicated data sets.

New platforms

While the fortnightly bluenotes newsletter still drives a large proportion of traffic to our different forms of content, the importance of particular social media platforms can wax and wane as the years go by. For instance LinkedIn has become a more important channel for content distribution relative to the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The percentage of Twitter users who regularly get news from the platform fell to 53 per cent last year, from 59 per cent in 2020, according to the Pew Research Centre in the US. Over the same period the percentage of users who regularly got their news from TikTok jumped to 33 percent from 22 per cent.

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The elephant in the room is still Facebook though. A massive 70 per cent of American adults use the social network and almost a third of that group regularly get their news from the platform. Make of that what you will, given what we know about the veracity of some “news” on social media. 

The fact these platforms hold such sway these days is a perfect illustration of why clear and accurate news and analysis matters. And also why the subject matter and issues bluenotes covers will continue to evolve as the landscape changes.

What will banks look like in 20 years time and how will customer expectations have evolved? How far will the big technology companies have encroached into financial services by then and will the fintech community continue to innovate and help deliver new products? Will regulators have to design new guidelines and enforcement regimes to keep all these new developments in check?

You only have to look at the current pace of technological change to get an idea of the challenge. The statistics are dizzying. For instance, look at how it takes a new technology to reach 100 million users.

Technology race

Back in 2004 it took a fledgling Facebook four and a half years to reach 100 million users. Fast forward to 2019 and it took new platform TikTok just nine months to reach that goal.

But faster speeds were to come. Last year and Open AI’s generative artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT raced to 100 million users in just two months and then earlier this year Facebook’s owner Meta’s new social media app Threads achieved it in just five days.

If you cast your mind back to 2014, it was a different time. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was a relatively new and novel concept, Taylor Swift had just released a little ditty called “Shake It Off” – you might have heard it one or twice! – and Tony Abbott was finding his way as Australia’s new-ish Prime Minister.

Around that time the ANZ board visited Silicon Valley. It clear from that fact-finding mission to the frontline of technological development that dramatic disruption in information and communication was accelerating and companies would have to rethink how they interacted with their customers and all stakeholders.

And thus, bluenotes was created as Australia’s first dedicated corporate newsroom. It was a pretty bold experiment at the time and, as Andrew noted at the time, we are both observers and participants in the issues we cover.

“The overriding lesson for us here at bluenotes is we are not distant observers of these trends about which we publish. They affect us too. We must constantly reassess not just what we are publishing but how we are publishing it.”

“The one thing we know about the audience bluenotes is pitched to is you are already part of a social world, your habits are changing as new platforms and new technologies emerge, we have to be prepared to evolve too.”

And evolve we have. We’ll continue to chronicle these changes as well as highlighting the issues important to ANZ staff and the broader community. The importance of diversity and inclusion in the modern workplace has also taken great strides and will continue to be a key focus.

And we always welcome feedback or suggestions from our subscribers at

Thanks again for your support – and if you haven’t, subscribe here to bluenotes. 

Brett Foley is managing editor of bluenotes

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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13 Jul 2023

Farewell to the Editor

Andrew Cornell | Past Managing Editor, bluenotes

This is my final column as managing editor of bluenotes. It has been an enormously fascinating experience and bluenotes will remain a great success, produced by a wonderful team. So keep reading, keep subscribing and thanks.

15 Jun 2023

Fintechs: the meteor missed but left a tale…

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In 2015 fintechs were tolling the doom of dinosaur banks. In 2022 their combined market value had halved. But they’re coming back – on the back of the dinosaurs.