There is a lot of uncertainty in the market which is concerning for business leaders. A Royal Commission, open banking, a looming Brexit, a general election, Apple moving into financial services. All of these things weighing on executives minds.
But of all the discussions we have at C-Suite level, there is a common fear shared by all, from the CEO of a 10 person Fintech disrupting the market, to the CEO of a major bank.
Is what we are building today going to be relevant 12 months from now?
Technology and global markets seem to be moving so fast, most executives are struggling to keep pace. Couple that with the changing regulatory landscape and looking further than 12 months into the future is creating indecision. When decisions are finally made, the market has moved on, the goal posts have changed and so the process starts all over again!
Is The Fintech Party Over?
The pressure is on for executives to deliver to investors and shareholders. The challenge for scaling Fintechs appears to be plateauing top line growth or even an obsolete product/business model.
There are two options most often considered. Grow geographically (Cover Genius and AfterPay have taken this approach) or pivot domestically. To pivot successfully requires two things new products and people to drive the sales of new products.
Pivots are not exclusive to scaling startups. We see an increasing demand for Fintech talent from corporations pivoting their own product lines. Some are even reinventing their business models. Some examples include FSI’s, Insurers and Software companies.
Based on our assessment of the market there is significant demand for two profiles from Fintech.
Chief Product Officer/Head of Product.
Founders and business leaders seem to be crying out for commercial product managers with the ability to deliver the killer product. Product areas appear well stocked with those who can project manage. Strategic and commercial acumen seems to be in short supply, leading to months wasted on product development before a market fit has been established. Business leaders dream of applying Lean Startup Principles. While Product folk seem obsessed with Agile.
What is the answer?
Tier One People completed Head of Product and a Chief Product Officer searches in Q1. We sourced 75% of shortlisted candidates domestically. 25% were international candidates. However, of three placements, two candidates were international and one domestic.
Based on the client feedback, it was felt international candidates demonstrated commercial thinking. Most importantly, they pointed to several examples in which they had taken a product from idea to revenue generation, at scale.
It seems the product management community is acutely aware of the problem. Read this excellent blog post by Adrienne Tan https://brainmates.com.au/product-management/cut-out-product-management/
Sales Director/Head of Partnerships.
Revenue growth is hard to come by and the pressure is beginning to show signs. The sizzle of Fintech has attracted a lot of investment. Indeed 2018 saw an all time record for Fintech investment in Australia. And with the additional investment come higher expectations.
I wrote of this phenomenon three years ago, when SaaS businesses went on huge hiring sprees for business development managers. Salesforce, despite having the world’s most popular CRM, actually had Australia’s largest sales/business development team.
We are seeing increased demand for people who can bring in new business. Especially significant corporate partnerships that will make an immediate and long term impact on revenue growth.
B2B sales is complex. Deals can take anywhere from 6 – 18 months. B2B2C deals may not take as long, but with API integration to be factored in, there is a heavy dose of project management required to onboard any new client. Deals are fragile and complex with technology and regulatory roadblocks often leading to months of work being wasted.
We spoke to Alistair Lamond, Commercial Director and Co-Founder of Skippr on the challenges facing Fintech startups when partnering with corporates. He had this to say.
“It is not about convincing a partner to buy your solution. It is about persuading them to change their behaviour. This is underpinned by mobilising a change agent with insights and tools to get all key stakeholders on the same page but also having absolute confidence that your product is fit for their purpose specifically. Without alignment, short term results may be seen but could be to the detriment of long term value”Alistair Lamond, Fintech Founder
The market is reacting with an increasing demand for Partnerships Directors. These are rare people indeed. A Partnerships Director must possess the hustle and entrepreneurial drive of a sales person. But with empathy/relationship building and well developed project management skills. If that wasn’t difficult enough to find, strong product knowledge and hands on operational experience is considered essential to the role.
Tier One People have had success sourcing talent from the UK and US markets which are more accustomed to this model.
Design Thinking For Hiring.
Our clients seem to be experiencing better outcomes by adopting a design thinking approach to hiring. Over the last six months we have been working with a small group of trusted clients on a new approach to recruitment. It has been so successful that two clients saved close to $500,000 when after our consultation, they realised they didn’t need to hire!