Sébastien has a successful track of defining business strategies and leading global transformations in Financial Institutions (from Business Lines to IT / Operations and Transverse functions). He is passionate about innovation and new technologies, and developed a large network in Fintech, meeting with many startups, investors and organizations in this space. He understands the potential of the new technologies such as blockchain, machine learning and open architectures, and can anticipate their impact to create opportunities for Financial Institutions. Sébastien strives to bridge the gap between Business & Technology, driving growth and efficiency in Financial Institutions by connecting them with the best innovations from the market.
How did you get to become an expert in fintech?
It was a natural path as I always worked at the intersection of Finance and Technology. As a manager at Societe Generale, I supported the business lines in launching new products and new services through standard IT development. At that time, Fintech was not trending yet, the hot topics were Lean Six Sigma and Agile methodologies. As a project leader at BCG, I led large scale business transformations in Financial Institutions. Technology was always a key component of the transformation. After this experience in strategy, I wanted to focus more on concrete business innovation, launching proof of concepts and connecting financial institutions with startups. That’s why I joined CH&Co in New York, where I advise financial institutions on their digital strategy while working at the same time on concrete blockchain, RPA and machine learning projects.
What areas of fintech are you most passionate about?
I am very interested in Financial Inclusion. Replacing cards with mobile payment systems for people who already use modern financial services is not very meaningful, it does not really change your life. Today too many people still don’t have access to basic financial services (in developing countries, but also in developed countries). In particular, developing sustainable and transformative financing schemes should be a priority for large firms, Fintech startups and regulators to improve people’s livelihoods where it is most needed. Global initiatives exist and more and more social fintech enterprises are launched. We (including myself) should support and promote this trend more.
Which fintech influencers influence you?
I like to hear opposite point of views before forming my own judgment, so I usually get information from many sources. For me, the best commentators are Chris Skinner and Pascal Bouvier. They provide deep insights into the current state of finance and its future.
Then I like to get Fintech news from my VIP list of 10 reliable sources which you can find here https://twitter.com/sbmeunier/lists/vip.
Outside of fintech who else influences you?
My sources of influence vary over time. Recently I have become more and more interested in the topic of influence itself. Until recently, I thought that “influencing” meant “convincing with facts”. Over time I realised that people are often more influenced by emotions or beliefs rather than by hard facts. Some of the personalities in this area include Scott Adams, the creator of the famous Dilbert comic. He was one of the rare pundits who predicted and explained why Donald Trump would win the US election when the most experienced political journalists were expecting a win by Hillary Clinton with 95% certainty.
Scott explained that Donald Trump’s persuasion skills were better than his opponents’, partly because he is very good at appealing to people’s emotions. This is a lesson for everyone, whether you like him or not. Scott wrote fascinating blog posts about the “two-movie reality”. I look forward to reading his next book “Win bigly”. I also recommend Carmen Simon, who is a cognitive scientist. Her book “Impossible to ignore” explains how to create and deliver memorable presentations and get people to act on their memories. Finally, I found the book “Radical focus” by Christina Wodtke very useful. I use some of the principles described in the book around “objectives and key results” in both my personal and professional lives.
Which brands or products stand out for you in fintech?
- I like Transferwise because I was an early user and because they developed original marketing campaigns. It is extremely convenient today, however they might be disrupted by other technologies such as blockchain technology in the future.
- Number26 is very successful in Europe and is able to generate a lot of attention in the media.
- Robinhood because it democratizes stock trading.
- WeChat is a very comprehensive and convenient platform which I use when I am in China
- Fintech organizations/media: Next Money, StartupBootCamp Fintech, The Financial Brand, Coindesk for blockchain and cryptocurrencies news.
- Banks that are the most active in the space: BBVA, Santander, JP Morgan.
If a brand wanted to work with you, what offline / online activities would you be most interested in?
As part of my job, I advise Financial Institutions on their innovation strategy – from definition to implementation. I also train executive raising awareness on the impact of new technologies (typically what blockchain or artificial intelligence can do or cannot do). I am also happy to share my perspectives as a speaker in Fintech events or promote Fintech brands on social media.