Could a Career in Fintech Be Right for You?

Although banking jobs in the UK have been on the decline since the 2008 financial crisis, that hasn’t stopped fintech firms from hiring and employing over 60,000 people.

After experiencing a short post-Brexit dip in funding, UK-based fintech startups pulled in £433m in venture capital investment in the first six months of 2017, according to trade body Innovate Finance. The vote of confidence from investors confirmed the UK’s status as the third-largest hub for fintech, with over half of the Fintech50 calling London home.

“Typically, the big banks want to hire someone from the bank down the street,” explained Neil Clark, managing director of fintech recruiting agency Nicoll Curtin Technology. “But fintech firms are asking us to find tech pros with creative minds and cutting-edge skills who have worked for companies outside the industry such as Google, Amazon or Facebook.”

With fintech leaders looking to hire diverse outsiders who don’t fit the traditional banking mold, now may prove an opportune time to join the industry. Here are some ways to determine if a career in fintech is right for you.

Why Move to Fintech?

If you’re still supporting legacy banking systems, or have been left out of modernization projects at your current employer, joining the fintech revolution can give you a chance to work with cloud technologies, machine learning, cybersecurity or even cognitive banking. For the most part, you are only limited by how fast you can learn, noted Devie Mohan, an industry expert and thought leader.

“You can move faster in a fintech firm than you can in a bank or big company,” she explained. “Ultimately, if you decide to return to banking, you’ll have the skills to tackle a higher-level position or you can work as a highly paid consultant.”

Since London is one of the banking capitals of the world, many UK-based fintech firms are focused on creating B2B solutions, an underserved segment of the market. In fact, experts estimate that B2B revenues in 2020 will be double those of B2C. If you’re interested in collaborating and revolutionizing the banking ecosystem, you’re in luck: Clark says that most B2B firms are willing to teach banking newcomers the ropes.

Even on the B2C side, challenger banks are using machine learning and A.I. to provide customers with insights into their spending habits and financial life, according to Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank. Acquiring that kind of experience will open doors everywhere.

Hot Segments and Roles

Hot sub-sectors that are actively hiring include digital payments, lending and banking services, blockchain and digital wealth management. Banks are also looking for Big Data analytics solutions to make sense of the vast amounts of data stored across the enterprise.

Though they’ve been slow to embrace the fintech revolution, Clark noted that insurance companies are now climbing onboard. If you want to work in an emerging segment, insurtech might be the way to go. Other segments on the rise include regulation tech or regtech, alterative finance and cross-border remittances.

While the technical requirements vary by role, Java, Python, Ruby, C++ and mobile operating languages are widely used. Employers are also looking for professionals with DevOps expertise, Big Data skills and Internet of Things (IoT) experience. On the “soft skills” side, every tech pro who works for a fintech startups needs a UX mindset and entrepreneurial spirit to roll with the dynamic environment and regulatory hurdles.

“Asset managers and lenders are also assembling quant teams to develop algorithms to assess risk and help with trading and credit decisions,” Clark added. “Employers are looking for professionals with strong math skills, analytical thinking and quantitative reasoning, and some roles require programming.”

Tips for Breaking In

If you’re genuinely interested in working for a particular fintech firm, read their posts on social media, watch the videos on their website, and listen to their webcasts to find out more about their employees and what they do. It is important to understand how the firm generates revenue and the challenges they are facing, so you can figure out what you can bring to the partnership, Boden advised.

Then start building relationships by interacting with staff members and company leaders on social media; many fintech firms value interpersonal skills as much as technical ability. “We are looking for people who use teamwork to solve problems together,” Boden noted.

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