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.
Will the platform we are building today 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 answer is no if we look at investment numbers. But we are entering a new evolution, Fintech 2.0 and the platform play. The pressure is on for founders and 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.
Most Fintech to date are apps/features or middle layer software solutions. But with the emergence of ‘Super Apps’ like Revolut the competition is becoming much tougher. And customers expectations are rising.
When it comes to scaling the business two options are 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. Indeed, the EY/Fintech Australia Census 2019 highights Product/Market Fit as the number one challenge for Fintech.
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 teams seem obsessed with following Agile rather than being Agile.
What is the answer?
2019 has seen an increase in Head of Product and a Chief Product Officer searches at Tier One People. We sourced 75% of shortlisted candidates domestically. 25% were international candidates. However, it is a 50/50 split on domestic and international hires made.
Based on the client feedback, it was felt international candidates demonstrated clearer commercial thinking. Most importantly, talent could point 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.
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.
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 year 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!
If you would like to find out more on Design Hiring listen to this Interview with Tier One People founder, Dexter Cousins.