Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think

I recently read the book “Abundance” written by Dr. Peter Diamandis (Founder / Chairman of XPRIZE and Co-Founder / Chairman of Singularity University) and Steven Kotler (Co-founder of Flow Genome Project), which was first published in February 2012.  Although not new, this book remains highly relevant in today’s environment.  Supported by a wealth of examples of how new forces such as the Rising Billion and the DIY Innovator are shaping solutions to the world’s biggest problems, their book provides a bold and positive glimpse into a future enabled by technology.  They paint a picture that lies in stark contrast to the pessimism that surrounds us.

This book documents how progress in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanomaterials, synthetic biology and other “exponential technologies” (technologies capable of positively impacting the lives of at least a billion people) will enable more progress for mankind in the next 20 years, than in the past 200 years.   Huge strides in the areas of energy, education, health care and human freedom can create the conditions to meet and exceed the needs of every person on the planet, despite today’s perception that the gap is widening between the haves and have nots.

Two of the trends discussed that caught my attention were “dematerialization and demonetization”.   Dematerialization refers to the “radical decrease in footprint size for many of the items we use in our lives”.  The chart above provides examples of technologies that today are “free” in smart phones, along with the $900,000 price tag that was required to purchase each of them in the not-so-distant past.  Examples of demonetization include eBay, iTunes and Craigslist, all of which have dramatically lowered costs of activities such as purchasing and advertising.  The result of these two trends is that goods and services “once reserved for the wealthy, are now available to anyone equipped with a smart phone”.

I couldn’t help but think of how these trends create immense opportunity for the wealth management industry.  Around the globe, new wealth will be generated, creating growing needs.  Whether in the form of new enabling technologies, global investments or novel financial services business models, there is abundant opportunity for the wealth management industry to respond and play an integral role in shaping the future.