Making a Career Move to FinTech – The Lean Startup Guide

FinTech is going to be HUGE in 2019 and already shaping up as one of the most desirable employment sectors. Current opportunities advertised with Tier One People receive 150 – 200 applications on average. With so many people actively looking, naturally there is increased competition for the best FinTech opportunities out there.

How can you give yourself a competitive edge and ensure you are the one securing the dream move to FinTech in 2019?

This year marks twenty years in the recruitment game for me. Over that period, I have given career advice to 20,000 plus people. And I have developed a simple system that helps people accelerate the job search and maximise their career options.

The system is like the BUILD, MEASURE, LEARN process made famous by Lean Startup methodology developed by Eric Ries. The distinction here is YOU are the PRODUCT and a potential employer is the CUSTOMER.

BUILD

Step 1. Start with ‘SO what and why should anyone care’

The most common mistake people make when thinking about any career move is who they FOCUS on. When contemplating the next step, we have been conditioned to ask questions such as

‘What am I looking for?’, ‘What will make me happy?’ ‘Where do I want to be in 5 years-time?’

A recent phenomenon, made popular by Simon Sinek is to ‘Start with Why’

I see a big issue with this line of questioning. NOBODY CARES about your why or what you want. Certainly not a FinTech founder putting everything on the line to make a business work. What they really care about is if you can solve their problems.

The first step, especially if you want to break into the FinTech sector is to ask yourself one simple question.

“What is the BIG problem I solve”

 

Step 2. Do FinTech’s have the problem you solve?

This is a critical step. Because if you are solving problems FinTech’s don’t have or don’t care about you are in trouble.

Typically, people moving out of a large corporate will promote their expertise in Innovation or Transformation. These problems are prevalent in big banks, but not an issue in a FinTech startup.

The growing adoption of AI and rapid advancements in technology mean it’s very easy for our skills and expertise to become irrelevant. Especially to a FinTech at the leading edge of innovation.

Even if a FinTech needs your solution, will they use your service, or will they use someone else? There is a lot of competition out there. Are you as good as, if not better than your competitors?

If not, what areas need improvement to make your product the market leader?

 

Step 3. Define the benefits of YOU.

In most instances’ businesses are experiencing one of three problems. Over the years we have come up with different terms, change, transformation, strategy, sales, product fit, disruption. But ultimately, most problems facing a FinTech founder can be distilled to the following:

REVENUE

SCALE

REVENUE and SCALE

Ultimately your product (YOU) may have one or two benefits to a FinTech. You can demonstrate where you can GROW revenue and/or SCALE a business. Those who can demonstrate both are naturally in the greatest demand because they will have the most IMPACT on a business. A FinTech startup will ALWAYS hire the person they feel will make the greatest impact.

MEASURE

Step 4. The VALUE CREATION exercise

It surprises me how few people know or can estimate their value to a business. I often hear the term “Value Add” dropped in resumes and interviews. Yet when I ask how? I am met with a blank stare.

The Lean Startup talks about the Value Hypothesis Test which determines whether a product or service truly delivers value to customers. As you are the PRODUCT, I recommend a simple value creation exercise to determine the value you bring to a potential employer.

List your career achievements and attach a dollar value.

As an example, you may have automated a process, which resulted in a reduction of head count, saving costs. If you managed to reduce headcount by one and that person was on a salary of $100,000, over a five-year period, you have saved the business $500,000. In other words, you have created $500,000 worth of value.

Repeat this exercise for every notable contribution you have made to a business and total the amount.

You might be surprised how much value you can bring to a FinTech startup.

Step 5. Market Fit and Your Go to Market Strategy

Most job seekers spend 100% of their time and energy with a go to market strategy that doesn’t fit the customer.

The typical job search mirrors a B2C marketing campaign. High volume, low touch.

You’ve applied to hundreds of jobs on line, you tick all the boxes, yet don’t even get a response. You meet multiple recruiters who said you were perfect for the job and you never hear back.

This high volume approach rarely works, especially when your are targeting the wrong person.

A job search should mirror a B2B marketing campaign, low volume, highly targeted with multiple touch points. You need to find a way to get in front of your customers and pitch your solution.

Evan Wong, CEO of Checkbox.ai (RegTech of the Year 2017 and 2018) has this advice:

I had to grow our network of Tier One clients from nothing. Coming straight out of University, I had no existing contacts or network in Corporate land.  So, I started out by creating a general profile of people I thought that would be interested in the product. Through a combination of research, Google searches, reading articles, blog posts and LinkedIn profiles I built a target list of ideal customers.

Next, I’d reach out by email asking to set up a short call for feedback, not to sell anything! Just feedback on the Checkbox value proposition. The discussion would usually be followed up a few months later with an in-person demonstration of the product. At the end asking for recommendations or referrals to other contacts in their network.

Today most of our business comes from word of mouth and thought leadership marketing. Being active at industry events and conferences helps our profile a lot.

LEARN

Step 6. Pivot or Persevere

Moving straight out of corporate and into a FinTech startup is tough. You are likely to face lots of rejection. Does this mean you should give up on a move into FinTech?

Don’t despair, this is where you might want to PIVOT or change your strategy. Feedback from interviews and meetings with potential employers can help form the basis of your Pivot.

It may be you need experience in a smaller business before a FinTech startup is comfortable hiring you. A credit union, mutual, or smaller bank undergoing digital transformation can be a great stepping stone to a FinTech.

Could there be opportunities in your current employer that will help you build your skills and experience?

A corporate venture fund?

An acquisition of a fintech startup?

Maybe you just need to PERSEVERE. The key here is to immerse yourself in the FinTech ecosystem. It is what I call Proximity. The more people see you around the FinTech scene the more likely they are to offer you a job.

Go to FinTech meetups, attend events, keep in contact with Founders, post relevant content on Linkedin and Twitter, start following the people who have a profile, look for opportunities to help and connect people.

Follow these steps and before long you will find your Tribe, doing game changing work with amazing people.

Are you looking to move into FinTech? Our monthly roundup brings the latest opportunities and market insights.

By Dexter Cousins

Founder of Tier One People, where we work with the worlds most visionary FinTech companies and the very best talent. Together, we are creating the companies of the future.

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