January 2017: Sticking to My Day Job

From Brexit to the US presidential race, nothing about 2016 was predictable.

Victor Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Waters

Given how wrong I was last year when predicting the outcome of two of the year’s biggest stories—the Brexit vote in the UK and the outcome of the US presidential election—I think for the time being at least, I’ll stick to my day job.

I remember waking up early on the morning of June 24 smugly seeking confirmation from the national papers that I had been right all along and that there was no way the UK would be leaving the European Union. I would have bet my house on it. I went to the BBC app on my phone and was perplexed to see that the political analysts were inexplicably predicting a narrow leave vote, believing that somehow they had got it all wrong and that in fact the UK was actually going nowhere. I turned to The Telegraph, The Guardian, the Independent and finally the FT, and apparently all of them had also got it wrong. I was properly confused: The UK would never vote to leave the EU, right? Wrong.

The same happened with the presidential race, although the proposition was a little less clear than a simple, binary yes–no vote as in the case of Brexit, due largely to the vagaries of the US Electoral College system that continues to be something of a mystery to most people living in the UK. How California gets 55 votes and Oregon just seven is beyond me. Anyway, as we all now know, the impossible happened on November 8, 2016, and on January 20 this year, Donald Trump will replace Barack Obama and become the 45th president of the United States. Boy, I never thought I’d ever read a sentence like the one preceding this one, let alone write it myself. 

Which brings me to the fraught task of predicting what’s going to happen during 2017 in our industry. I haven’t a clue. There, I said it. In the good old days when Waters produced forward features lists, we were inundated by PR people trying to find out what next year had in store, almost as though the capital markets were somehow governed by our annual journey around the sun.

We all know that not to be the case, even though prominent events like Mifid II’s introduction on January 3 next year will have a significant bearing on the industry’s technology and practices. Be that as it may, it’s still nearly impossible to say which technologies and business drivers will shape the industry between now and the end of the year. But if I had to select one, it would be artificial intelligence and machine learning.        

And here’s another: I am pretty certain that all the glitter from my eight-year-old daughter’s Christmas dress that found its way into the fabric of my carpets will be there forever.  No amount of vacuuming or resorting to tweezers will ever change that.

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