As the financial technology (FinTech) industry gains momentum in recent years, many financial executives are starting to leave their banks and asset management firms to try their hand at building a career in FinTech companies, especially start-ups. As we’ve worked with a range of FinTech start-ups over the last few years, we’ve put together five essential skills that fintech companies often look for in potential employees.
Top five transferrable skills you need for a successful career in FinTech companies or FinTech start ups
1. Knowledge of and ability to handle financial regulation / RegTech
Regulation within the financial services industry is very strict, and this affects FinTech companies of all sizes whether you are a large financial services firm and a new start-up using the latest technology. In order to help businesses manage regulatory compliance, RegTech was created. Regulatory technology, otherwise known as RegTech is a new technology that uses information technology to enhance regulatory processes with its main application within the financial sector.
Therefore, one of the skills that executives who have worked in banks and asset management firms can bring to FinTech start-ups are insights into how regulation can affect a company's business model, and even potential experience with RegTech.
Liz Lumley, Director of London-based Startupbootcamp FinTech, says: "Many FinTech start-ups underestimate the impact of financial regulation on their business models. If someone with that knowledge could come along, it would save them a lot of time, effort and even money.”
2. The ability to collect and analyse data
The ability to collect and analyse data to make business decisions, whether on the buy-side or the sell-side, is critical. This can be in simple financial transactions, advising a CFO on a merger, pitching an investor for an IPO, or working with a pension trustee on asset allocation.
The ability to use this data will be invaluable to FinTech start-ups. Anil Stocker, Co-founder and CEO of MarketFinance, an invoice finance start-up, says he is looking for "people who like to solve abstract problems with data". Stocker added: "Many FinTech companies are still in their infancy, so they have a lot to learn about how to design and market their products. Following your gut instinct and trial and error can help to some extent, but the most successful companies are often the ones that use data effectively.”
3. A good understanding of the FinTech and start-up industry culture
Many FinTech companies are looking for innovative ways to provide and deliver financial services, but they also need to engage and interact with existing companies. Entrepreneurs and head hunters have advised that someone who understands the culture of the FinTech industry can be a valuable asset for FinTech start-ups with little experience of dealing with financial institutions.
Susanne Chishti, Founder and Chief Executive of Fintech Circle, a network of FinTech angel investors, says it is important to understand the players and the financial ecosystem – which stakeholders are involved at what stage in the creation of a financial service, how they interact with each other and the relationships between them.
And this cultural awareness is a particularly attractive skill for FinTech companies that provide technology to banks and other financial firms rather than relying on them, he says. Lumley of Startupbootcamp says, "People who can navigate these areas in an intelligent and thorough way are very important and are invaluable.”
4. Leadership qualities
With an increasing number of companies raising significant venture capital funding, many FinTech start-ups have continued to expand their operations and headcount rapidly in recent years. As a result, head hunters have mentioned that executives with experience of running large organisations and managing hundreds of staff are highly sought after.
As start-ups start to scale, they will also require skilled business leadership to focus on the different aspects of the business.
5. Specialist knowledge
As the old saying goes, there's no substitute for experience. Whatever your skillset, be it capital markets, sales trading or investment advice, you can likely find a suitable FinTech start-up to join.
For example, Funding Circle, a service that connects companies seeking financial solutions with institutional and private investors; Alphametry, an online marketplace for equity research based in Paris, France; and Algomi, a FinTech start-up with a service that finds and orders matched bonds on behalf of bank sales traders.
One of the most valuable transferable skills, according to Fintech Circle's Chishti, is the ability to "truly understand how a product works, how it is packaged and how it is sold".
Are you concerned about joining a FinTech start up?
The FinTech industry is one of the fastest-growing areas of the IT industry and professionals within FinTech will be in great demand in the coming years. It's a great industry to work in and a good place to start if you're looking to move from a non-IT role. It’s also an industry that will likely demand a higher salary package, with some start-ups offering stock options.
Even if you're not sure whether FinTech is an industry to work in, our specialist consultants can advise you further. They will also be able to share the FinTech industry outlook and how it compares to other industries based on your job. Contact us using the form below.