GFT, a leading European supplier of innovative IT solutions to the financial services sector, is today launching an e-pamphlet to celebrate 20 years in business. Taking a look at the changes in the banking sector since 1987, the company’s German CEO and UK MD also take a look at what the next 20 years may bring GFT and the European financial sector.
20 years ago, when GFT was founded in Germany, the country was still divided by the iron curtain, the Dow Jones had just hit 2000 and the industry was heading for Black Monday and a world stock market crash. A week may be a long time in politics, but 20 years is a lifetime in technology and GFT has seen several generations of technical change over the last twenty years; from the effects of the City’s Big Bang and Minitel, the French forerunner of the Internet, to today’s BlackBerry ad mammoth banking technology infrastructures. Where will the next twenty years take us?
Ulrich Dietz the founder of GFT and Group CEO views the company’s development from a European perspective; “whilst GFT has been growing from two people in a small office in St. Georgen, to over twelve hundred across twenty locations, Europe has seen some great upheavals. It seems hard now to remember that in 1987 Germany was still divided into East and West, with unification a few years away yet. But business is about responding and adapting to change; being flexible. This is a lesson we learnt in the early years of business in a changing Germany. Much of this transformation has been driven by technology of course, making it easier to do business, bringing creative technical people into the business world and driving entrepreneurialism throughout Europe. At GFT we have always prized innovation and seized every opportunity that comes along. Whatever the next twenty years brings us, we will not cease to adapt and innovate”.
Graham Underwood is the Managing Director of GFT UK, where the focus is on the financial services sector. Graham believes GFT has succeeded because the company has always taken an individual approach to technology and adapted it to solve business problems. He observes, “from Black Monday to BlackBerry, we’ve witnessed the effect of technology on banking, transforming the speed, availability and accuracy of information and processes. As we all discovered in the 1987 crash, the effects of technology can be unpredictable. Once it is set in motion, it’s hard to go back. How would we now switch off the internet? The banking world is now unchangeably global. Since our early days in Germany developing GRIT (to create graphical user interfaces), to our current three-tier approach to outsourcing, we’ve always stretched the boundaries of what’s possible. ”
But, as the French say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. GFT’s e-pamphlet, includes quotes from its clients at Deutsche Bank and Fortis UK and looks at how much will really change; will face-to-face communication will still be as important in 2027; will we still work in large offices, trading currencies and commodities, as has been the case in London for hundreds of years; will the UK will have joined the Euro and will Shanghai be the world’s dominant financial centre?
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