Banks and the Financialization of Everything

SINGAPORE – As I sit here I can look out my window and see bank branches, more banks in the distance, and service providers for the financial industry. Singapore has been called the Switzerland of Asia, and it well deserves that moniker. In the last 10 year that I have been based in Asia, I am seeing visibly how Singapore has gained slowly but surely on its nearest rival – Hong Kong. Now Singapore is ranking third in the World as a global financial center https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Financial_Centres_Index . But this post is not about the ranking and relative merits of the various global financial centers, but rather about the way to make a good living around in an industry ever increasing in power and influence, where money and political influence flow to like water flowing to the sea. Financial industry, yes my friend, is indeed that industry.

Just as the Internet has taking power and influence from the brick and mortar industries, in some cases completely destroying the older institutions, so banks have been on a tear creating and drawing more power and influence to itself. Mortgage has been completely financialized – witness the utter inability of lower income Americans to get mortgages after the Great Financial Crisis. The same can be said with technology start ups, gold, and many more types of physical goods and investments. In this low rate, stagflating world, money is flowing like water chasing return, and the Banks and other investment industry titans benefit from it. It’s far beyond me to fully understand what is really happening and to predict the long term impact, but I can see the writing on the wall and I made an important decision a long time ago. This decision, is to work as a supplier to the banks and make money off of them.

You see, I sell software to banks. As the banks around the globe all embracing the Internet, mobile lifestyle, cloud etc, there is a lot of money to be made in the transitions. The World is changing perhaps faster than it’s ever been, but there is no use complaining about it, it’s better to meet the changes head on and benefit from them. As the banks turn into a technology platform on which data and money flow through, there is ever increasing need for my skills and experience. Singapore in particular, is a great place for me to be based out of. How many cities can you think of in the World with a comparable size and density of financial institutions? Singapore is one of those world class places with local banks (Singaporean), International banks (US, UK, European), Chinese banks and other Asian players. I can go to Changi and throw a rock and hit the operations centers of 4 big banks. From a practical perspective, it means that I am never in want for a client and I don’t even have to commute to get to them. In Asia now I see only two places where this is possible: Singapore and Hong Kong. As for the other banking hubs, namely Shanghai, Tokyo and in some measures Australia, as an expat you have to deal with the languages in Shanghai and Tokyo, and Australia is just too far from the rest of Asia.

This blog is mainly about investment and personal finance, so I’ll share that while I make money in technology and banks, I never invest into these two fields directly (investing indirectly due to index funds is inevitable). I’ll write about why in a future post.

As usual, your thoughts and thoughts are welcome.

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(View of Singapore from downtown)