Working in FinTech vs. Traditional Banking

FinTech is currently one of the world’s fastest growing technological industries. The UK’s financial technology sector attracted a record £1.34bn in venture capital investment in 2017, 90% of which was invested into London-based start-ups and early stage businesses, according to Forbes.

Are developers flocking from big corporate banks to the greener grasses of fast, modern FinTech businesses? Or are FinTech start-ups struggling to compete with the hefty benefit and salary packages offered by major banks? Let’s have a look…

This is relatively new territory, as financial technology has only really kicked off in the last few years, so finding candidates who have both a high level of skill in the necessary technologies, the cultural values these businesses are looking for, and also an understanding of the largely different working environments can prove highly challenging. Securing them is an entire different kettle of fish, as most skilled developers will often have many start-ups fighting for their skills and experience.

But does it all come down to these sought after skills? Is experience really all that matters to FinTech companies?

Unsurprisingly, no… There’s a lot more that goes into hiring for FinTech businesses:

The challenge for companies hiring in FinTech

While the financial technology sector is booming in the UK, an ongoing struggle continues for businesses trying to recruit new talent in the field. Business Insider reported that many job listings still remain unfilled after 60 days.

The FinTech sector’s tightening candidate market is a by-product of its rapid growth and for many start-ups and scale-ups in particular, it can be incredibly challenging to dedicate the time and resources to finding such sought-after talent in the current candidate climate.

As if it wasn’t already challenging enough to find applicants in the current candidate climate, the market is often further filtered down for many FinTech businesses, who don’t have the understanding or the budget to exploit international sponsorship options. This can mean they are unable to reap the benefits of the international market.

In addition to this, it can be difficult to pull candidates away from the security of a job in a major bank and the salary and benefits that come with it. This is why it’s so important for FinTech companies to find candidates who appreciate that it’s the culture, autonomy, and learning opportunities that they are buying into with the FinTech industry, and the opportunity to drive innovation at the forefront of advanced technology.

We spoke to the CEO of Acacia and Julian Sawyer, COO of Starling Bank to hear their thoughts on the challenges of recruiting in FinTech:

Stefano Vaccino, CEO of Acacia (FinTech Start-up, Open Banking API)
“One of the biggest challenges is finding talent and retaining it while not having the budget that investment banks or big tech firm have, nor their brands. What you can offer however is a clear problem to solve, a big vision for the company, empowerment and the most advanced technological approach. Smart people are driven by the willingness to learn and grow.

Intellectual curiosity is what we look for in people. For smart developers, the possibility to use the most advanced technology and develop a unique expertise, is more important than a high salary. The most talented people like challenges and are driven by the willingness to learn and grow.”

So it’s clear to see that the primary challenges for FinTech businesses are finding people with the right mind-set and values, and having the budget to hire people with the niche skills they need for their projects.

So, why are more and more people choosing careers in FinTech?

Although many can, some start-ups simply can’t compete with the hefty salary and bonus packages offered by the major banks’. If competition undoubtedly comes their way for a candidate, smaller FinTech companies can’t always afford to throw larger salary offerings at a candidate to win them over. So what’s drawing people to FinTech?

The answer?

Responsibility. A voice. Cross-functionality. Quite simply, a change.

Here’s what Julian Sawyer, COO of Starling Bank had to say about the difference between working in FinTech and traditional banks.

“The key difference is mind-set – the agile organisation spends more time thinking of the customer, thinking how to run the business better and less politics, less stakeholder management and more getting the job done.

We have teams that mix and mingle, transparency of data providing people with a consistent view of the business and system performance. Hiring great people, empower them to do the job and forget the traditional structures and hierarchies.” Chief Operating Officer – Starling Bank

Choose your path

According to FinTech start-up, Slim Pay, candidates report choosing a career in FinTech due to the wide-ranging pathways and promotion opportunities available. As these businesses are ever expanding, whatever your specialty – you can find a way to progress in FinTech.

Drive at the forefront of innovation

The digital revolution has affected so many global businesses, so profoundly that it has found itself to be an entire industry in itself, and the work of people inside these businesses are directly affecting the digitalisation of our economy and societies. It is exactly this that excites tech experts looking to become part of something so innovate!

Be challenged, learn, and grow!

Talented people have an innate longing to better themselves and learning is a fundamental part of this. FinTech businesses look for developers who strive to continually extend their technical knowledge to create never before developed technology and systems.

Jobs in FinTech vs traditional banking

FinTech companies pay far more attention to soft skills and values than your typical banks. FinTech is a fast-paced, agile environment where employees need to have the flexibility to adapt, change direction quickly to amend problems, and have the capability to work across functions.

This article was originally published on the ISL Recruitment blog.

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