Often the “Fin” in Fintech would denote a heavy hitter from a bank being a winning hire, right?
In the fast paced environment of Fintech, we have noticed caution on the part of our clients in making such a decision.
The hesitation is bound in stereotypes. Banking is often viewed as a mired in red-tape, compliance (or lack of, in Australia), too many chiefs, too many meetings and nothing getting done. Huge amounts of resources and dollars are thrown at projects that never come to fruition. Whilst their Fintech competitors move with stealth and agility, innovating at much greater speed with minimal resources.
The role of an Executive Search Consultant is to challenge stereotypes and get clients to view each candidate on their merits. The view of not being a team player and rolling up your sleeves is often a misconception in banking, but there are plenty who refuse to conform to the stereotype of a banker.
Tier One People is bolstering our position as the leading Australian Fintech Executive Search firm. Australia’s growing FinTech sector has seen a rise in the search for C-suite and leadership talent. Counting Revolut, TrueLayer, 10x, Klarna and Transferwise as some of the many companies seeking our assistance.
How bankers can take control of their job search.
A more proactive approach job seekers can take is to look at where your big banking skills can have an impact. Assessing whether a company is at start-up or scale up stage will also aid you in making a successful move to Fintech. Read this article on Fintech Career Advice to gain a better understanding at which stage of growth you are best suited to.
Before embarking on the search it is crucial to take a step back and ask yourself;
“How would I cope moving from a structured and heavily supported environment to a one of a specialist generalist”
The best advice we can give candidates looking to join a Fintech.
Showcasing your skills in 2020 also requires more savvy than ever before. Looking good on paper doesn’t get cut through anymore. If you are in the market looking to join a Fintech you need to have a plan in place and a goal in sight. You need to utilise all of the tools available, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts. These are all channels where you get direct access to decision makers, people who can hire you.
You can showcase your skills and achievements, bringing them to life and not being blocked by gatekeepers and recruiters.
Do FinTech Need Banking Experience?
Dexter Cousins, the CEO and Founder of Tier One People, has interviewed more than 300 FinTech leaders on the subject of hiring. He firmly believes hirers should consider the lifecycle of a Fintech to assess where the best candidate fit is.
It’s very difficult for anyone to move from a corporate job to an early stage startup. But with the rapid growth of tech companies, a startup can become an enterprise in 5 years. Examples include Stripe, Revolut and Australia’s Afterpay.
It’s a difficult process identifying the right time for a banker to join a Fintech. The right person can definitely make a significant contribution as the company scales. Often times the right hire is made but at the wrong time, which ultimately means the hire is wrong.
Find out just what skills you need in this exclusive interview with Eric Wilson, CEO of neo Bank Xinja.
We get inundated with calls on a daily basis from candidates seeking a move to the shiny new world of ‘FinTech’. However, opening your pitch with “hey, I’ve got 20 years experience in banking, I want to work in FinTech” might not be the best way to impress people.
It’s also important to make the distinction between a Finance business and a Software business. Are bankers better suited to a NeoBank or a platform provider. Fintech covers a wide range of businesses and making this distinction can really increase your chances of securing a move.
Judo Bank, Xinja, 86 400 and Revolut in Australia have all hired highly experienced bankers early in their growth. Judo and Xinja are both founded by highly experienced bankers who were driven to change the industry.
FinTech’s are at the cutting edge of innovation with far fewer resources than any bank. The reality is no founder or investor gets excited by somebody with twenty years experience in banking, unless they can demonstrate previous success in a startup and they have skills currently not in the business which are mission critical to success.
When Founders need help with hiring.
The recruitment process to join a Fintech can be almost as intense as the job itself. If you can’t handle the intensity of the interview process, it’s highly unlikely you will succeed in the job.
The thing to remember is that FinTech founders themselves may not have the breadth of experience in HR or Talent to make critical hiring decisions. Hiring for a startup is often a make or break decision. We’ve watched some companies flourish and others flounder because of it.
For a founder looking to hire, specialist FinTech recruiters are more easily able to identify those candidates who are the ”right cultural fit.” Assessing if someone will relish the challenge of working in a FinTech environment is very difficult using traditional interview techniques. And a specialist recruiter can provide far greater access to Talent than an ad campaign and direct networks, especially in talent short markets.
But to achieve these results a client needs to invite us ‘into the tent’.
The key to success is communication
Being attuned to the changing demands of the business is vital to ensure success when hiring.
“The Revolut Country CEO search took six months. The brief changed 4 times as the company grew from 700 staff to almost 2000 during this time. Customer numbers went from 4m to almost 10m. When a company is growing that fast in a highly regulated sector like Fintech, it creates a lot of complexity. Hiring becomes even more complex.” commented Dexter Cousins.
There is a need for the modern executive search consultant to set realistic expectations with their clients. Being transparent and honest (even though clients may not want to hear what you have to say) is the only way to achieve lasting success. This approach is core to the values at Tier One People. The search for the “blue eyed unicorn” is never a realistic one and usually wastes significant time and business opportunities.
In response to the rapid escalation of job losses across the Aussie Fintech community Tier One People and FinTech Australia have joined forces to build a Talent Market Place, connecting Fintechers directly to opportunities.
The Market Place is a Private LinkedIn Group where founders and hiring managers can advertise jobs, put out requests for skills and engage talent for contracting.
It is totally free to join for talent and hirers. The only stipulations are you’re FinTech Australia member or you’ve recently been made redundant from a Fintech firm (Australian residents only.)
Who is the group for?
Those who have recently lost their job and are in the Fintech industry.
What’s the purpose?
To keep talent in the industry and connect immediately available talent with Fintech leaders who can utilise their skills.
Who should join?
People from the Australian Fintech industry and out of work. We will post daily content, videos and Live chat sessions sharing tips and advice on how to maximise your job hunting efforts. You can connect with hirers direct, no recruitment agencies involved. It’s also a great platform to showcase your skills!
FinTech Australia members looking to hire people.
You can post active roles, project work, consulting gigs and engage with talent direct in the group.
Fintech isn’t for everyone. Here are five questions we recommend asking yourself to find out if Fintech is for you.
1. Are you ready to join a Fintech Startup?
What is a startup? Everyone has their own definition. At Tier One People we have identified distinct phases of growth in a Fintech startup. It is important to make the distinctions as each phase is in effect a completely different business.
We have created some typical profiles to give context.
Usually 1 – 50 people with minimal funding or bootstrapped (self-funded). Generating some revenue but not much. Likely to still be working out of a coworking space or innovation hub. The business is still at a volatile stage and uncertainty remains around long-term success.
Typically 50 – 300 people big. Likely to be well funded or listed and generating significant revenue. Moving out of startup and starting to become an enterprise. A mix of the founding team and new hires coming from more corporate backgrounds. Potential to hit Unicorn status.
Blitz Scale Fintech.
300 people plus, going global and hiring at a huge rate. Now way past unicorn status. HUGE investors onboard. Examples Revolut, N26, Klarna, Afterpay.
The secret to success when joining a Fintech is to get on board when your skills and experience can make the most impact. When we do see hiring fail it’s usually not because the wrong person was hired. But the right person is hired at the wrong time.
2. What is your risk profile?
Have a mortgage or family commitments? You may want to think about joining a business in blitz scale mode. There is likely a lot more security and a higher base salary can be offered with some ESOP. But you have probably missed out on the opportunity to become a millionaire!
Can you take one or two risks financially if the role doesn’t work out? Maybe you are not quite sure if you can adapt to the demands of a startup. Try a scale up.
If you are slightly bonkers, can handle flexible working ie working 24:7 thrive on uncertainty, fear, challenge and building a legacy while not getting paid much then a startup might be right for you.
3. What do you offer?
Most people think that Fintechs are one huge innovation lab where people ride round on skateboards dreaming up how to use blockchain to solve world hunger.
In reality most Fintech are struggling just to stay alive. If you are dreaming of bringing killer ideas and strategising all day long, forget it. Having ideas and making ideas happen are very different. In a Fintech you need to bring relevant skills to the table and demonstrate where you can execute on the vision with minimal resources.
4. Who do you know?
Most Fintechs started out by hiring mates or mates of mates. It stands to reason that when it is your business you want to hire people you can trust to deliver.
75% of the Tier One People network will find their next role through a direct contact. If you don’t have any friends in Fintech then you need to make some.
5. How much do you love Fintech?
I am constantly amazed by people who tell me they are passionate about Fintech, yet know nothing about the sector. At Tier One People we live and breath Fintech. But we have to work hard to keep building our profile and build our knowledge base. Meetups and industry events are a great way to get started if you need to gain knowledge and meet people.
Fintech is a tight knit community and you will find many members are quite accessible when you contribute to the community in a positive way.
Current opportunities advertised with Tier One People receive 150 – 200 applications on average. How can you give yourself a competitive edge and ensure you are the one securing the dream move to FinTech?
2020 marks 21 years in the recruitment game for me. Over that period, I have given career advice to 25,000 plus people and helped thousands of people find a job. And I have developed a simple system that helps people accelerate the job search and maximise their career options.
The system in many ways follows the principles of Product/Market fit applied in Lean Startup methodology developed by Eric Ries. The distinction here is YOU are the PRODUCT/Service and a potential employer is the CUSTOMER.
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. Are You Solving A Real Problem?
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 YOU bring.
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 – Sales and Growth
SCALE – Problem Fixers
REVENUE and SCALE – Blue Eyed Unicorns
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.
Watch This Video Presentation Where I Run Through The Principles Of Product Market Fit For Job Hunting.
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.
Step 6. Pivot or Persevere.
Moving straight out of corporate and into a FinTech startup is tough. Especially in this market. 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.