Then and now

In financial services and the wider world, many of the terms we were using 25 years ago are now extinct, while countless new words have appeared in our lexicon. Here’s a small selection of the old and the new

What we were saying then
  • Cheque’s in the post – the use of cheques peaked in 1990, when there were more than four billion transactions a year. Last year, just 546 million cheques were written, an average of about ten cheques per adult per year
  • Multi-function cheque card – as the use of cheques declined, the guarantee card went the way of the dodo
  • Junk bonds – a favourite of corporate raiders, these high risk securities now enjoy the notorious ‘sub-prime’ moniker
  • M2 money supply – measure of the money supply that includes all elements of M1 as well as ‘near money’ which can be converted into cash, but not as easily as M1. M1, or narrow money, typically includes coins and notes in circulation, and other money equivalents that are easily convertible into cash. The term fell out of use in the mid-1990s
  • Palm Pilot – the rise of the smartphone and iPad sounded the death knell for the Personal Digital Assistant
  • PEP – Personal Equity Plans enjoyed popularity in the 1980s before ISAs arrived
  • Poll tax – the introduction of the tax in 1989 was ultimately to prove disastrous for Margaret Thatcher’s government and paved the way for John Major to become Prime Minister
  • Savings and loans – the forerunner of the global financial crisis, the collapse of the US savings and loan (S&L) industry in the late 1980s provided the backdrop for financial regulation in the early 1990s
  • Shares in Kodak – As late as 1976, Kodak commanded 90% of film sales and 85% of camera sales in the US. The advent of digital photography put an end to that when Kodak failed to adapt to the new technology
  • TESSA – introduced in 1990, the tax-exempt special savings account disappeared in 1999 when ISAs replaced them
  • Third World – now superceded by ‘developing’ or emerging nations

And what we're saying now

  • Artificial intelligence – the rise of the machines is only just beginning, with machine learning revolutionising the ways in the which companies can accurately price risk, sell products and manage supply chains 
  • Banking apps – mobile banking became mainstream from 2007, with the majority of banking now conducted online
  • Brexit – The UK’s relationship with the EU was never smooth, but few in 1992 envisioned a British withdrawal
  • Blockchain – the distributed ledger marks a huge step forward in the reliability of online payment systems and crypto-currency
  • Credit default swap – made ‘famous’ by its role in the global financial crisis, this derivative was a long way from the first such products promoted in the 1980s
  • Facebook – the advent of social media, popularised by Facebook and MySpace in 2004–2005, has revolutionised the way we interact with friends, consume news and shop online
  • FCA – after the SIB and FSA comes the FCA, a new super-regulator covering the UK financial services industry
  • iPad – launched in 2010, the tablet bridged the gap between a phone and a desktop
  • Multi-channel banking – as more and more services go online, banks are now offering customers a full suite of service channels, from branches to smartphones
  • PayPal – the ubiquitous online payment system has revolutionised how we sell and buy online
  • Robo advisers – a long way from the bank branch, robo advice is now a growing trend among retail banks and wealth managers
  • Uber – no more hustling over black cabs on Poultry at 5pm on a Friday: the driver app takes all that away
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Published: 10 Mar 2017
  • Features
  • The Review
  • technology
  • Finance
  • FCA
  • Brexit
  • blockchain

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