I marvel at the brilliance and passion of inventors. Today’s fintech pioneers have that stuff and challenge convention with ideas that shame our legacy systems. These geniuses cannot understand why clunky incumbent “tech” persists when their better ideas are here for the taking.

And yet most of the inventions never get commercial traction. There are demos aplenty and lots of “great meetings” that raise hopes, but those slowly drain away. A sort of “innovation expiration” sets in as the effort loses momentum (and funding) and the innovators move on to something else.

I call out to them: “Don’t leave! We need you! We just don’t know it most of the time.”

From my vantage point, there are a few different reasons for the disconnect between innovation and success. But they are all related.

Houston, We Have A Proliferation Problem
Michael Kitces and his team are brilliant. One of their first great works was the now widely known map of fintech and its capabilities. It was a daunting task, but he put it all on one page. As the innovation increases, the font size on his map has been forced to shrink, too. But that single sheet still captures the landscape. And what a roster it is: He counts 186 capabilities in 29 categories. There are 24 portfolio reporting applications. There are 14 financial planning packages. Sure, the universe of stocks and bonds is bigger, but at least that world has been simplified into the S&P 500’s 11 sectors and the bond world’s 14. Even cars have only 12 categories, according to J.D. Power.

I know executives at big companies who cannot begin to understand the number of fintech offerings. But most of them also fail to investigate the space. Do they have active efforts going to find new ideas? More on that in a minute.

If Everything Is Important, Nothing’s Important
A recent report from a top consulting firm outlines the most important trends in tech for 2022. There are 14 of them! I’ve never seen any successful corporate plan chase so many objectives. So executive teams have to find a target. Most companies succeed not by building a new house on raw land but making improvements to an existing structure. That means a process needs to be in place.

Breaking Through To Acceptance
A consulting firm executive was asked recently about insurance technology, also called “insurtech,” and brilliantly observed that most of the tech firms in this space die on the runway because they spent most of their venture money trying to buy awareness that they hoped would translate into acceptance among financial firms, customers or intermediaries. He lamented a huge spend on promotional web searches. “The only people making money on that innovation are Facebook and Google,” he said.

He went on to say the industry needs to work harder to identify emerging technologies and the entrepreneurs behind those innovations. Allianz is one of the firms that has stepped up, creating something it calls the “OnRamp Insurance Accelerator” with Securian Financial, as well as making investments in capabilities such as LifeYield.

Why Should I Buy?
This is another question that the fintech firms have to answer. They need to be able to show business owners that their products have a direct effect on their users’ bottom lines. There’s a cultural divide here. Most fintech firms are, obviously, populated by techies. The business people they are selling to often have totally different backgrounds and personal motivations. One of the most entertaining moments in corporate life is gathering the senior team of a functioning business with a fintech innovator team and watching things get awkward. They often have nothing in common. Even their lunch selections seem odd to each other.

Not An Island, An Ecosystem
One of the biggest problems all advisors deal with is knowing whether the technology they want to buy talks to the tech they already have.

Let’s use the house metaphor again. No company comes to a fintech firm asking to build the house from scratch. There’s a building there already. It’s already hooked up to a bunch of other pipes and wires. Some of these might work well, others not. The owners of the house may be aware of what’s working and what needs to be improved. Or not. But connectivity will matter—in fact, connectivity is just as important as whatever the new fancy machine does. You can’t be the only person with the grounded three-prong plug in a workshop full of two-prong outlets.

So if you run a fintech firm, knowing how your device will connect with other technologies is one of your problems.

A Problem Of Design
My favorite for last: getting people to adopt. This problem is owned jointly by the buyer and seller of fintech.

First we pick on the seller again: Did you design your product to be excellent or to intuitively and naturally solve a problem? It’s much harder to sell something “better” than to sell something “easier.” In most cases, a firm adopts new technology because it offers greater ease and improved results. So adoption is a function of the design. It’s not enough to throw in an owner’s manual.

Now we must ask a question of the buyer: How many times have you bought enterprise software and failed to include training and integration in the budget for this project? How many times did you say, “We can figure it out later and save money”? I like to imagine in this case a race car in the hands of a driver who can’t drive it. It ends up being a waste of money. It’s not enough to say you own one.

So now we have admonitions for both sides of the fintech movement. But maybe we can all get along and start working together. The upside is worth the effort.

Steve Gresham is on a mission to improve longevity and “retirement.” He leads an industry initiative, Next Chapter, and is CEO of the Execution Project LLC, a consulting firm. He is also senior educational advisor to the Alliance for Lifetime Income.