By Andrew Hanson
When investors and stock pickers gathered at Sydney’s Livewire Live, fintech startups was a hot topic of conversation. The sense of opportunity in fintech is palpable right now, and there’s never been a better time to work in this growing sector of the economy, where technology meets banking and finance.
Australia now ranks fifth in the world in terms of fintech adoption, with new services and new players not only changing our financial institutions, but also changing the way Australians live. Fintech has already changed how many of us pay and transfer money, how we save and invest, how we borrow, how we insure ourselves, and how we plan our financial future.
Austraian start-ups have just enjoyed a record quarter for investment and a record year for fundraising by local venture capital firms. According to data released by KPMG earlier this month, investors poured $300 million into Australian start-ups in the June quarter (the healthiest quarter for start-up investment in three years). As the Australian Financial Review put it: “Australia’s nascent love affair with emerging technology businesses is showing no signs of abating”.
Naturally, where there is growth and investment, there are also jobs. In the case of fintech, lots and lots of jobs. As businesses prepare for growth, candidates should also be developing their skills to ensure that they can help shape the future of business.
Many fintechs have ambitious growth plans, so they’re great places to work if you love variety, digital disruption, and a fast-paced environment. And by getting in early, you may have the chance to share in the success of the business by growing your income in line with the growth of the firm.
There are several common traits that fintech employers typically want from new recruits. If you can tick some of these boxes, then you could be ready for the ride of your life:
In the early stages, fintech start-ups don’t have an army of people on board with fixed job descriptions and areas of responsibility. You’re more likely to see hybrid jobs, such as a blend of a client-facing role and a product role. And there will be times where you’ll have to pitch in and help with multiple campaigns or projects that are critical to the business.
2. Problem solver
If you’re in the business of disrupting the way things are being done – and most fintechs are – then you need people on board who are good at finding better ways of doing things. Employers are looking for people who see a problem and instinctively look for a solution. When you’re rewriting the rules, there are no manuals to follow.
Fintech start-ups often look for somebody who can adapt as the business adapts. During a period of growth, the only certainty is going to be change. So, you will need to be comfortable picking up tasks that weren’t part of the initial role you were hired for. It will be looked on favourably if you have worked in an unstructured environment or have attempted to get something off the ground yourself.
Most fintechs are founded upon an entrepreneurial spirit, and their future success may rest upon continuing to come up with new ideas. Along with creativity, it’s vital that you have an ability to explain your ideas clearly. The people around you need to understand the vision and what their role is in achieving it.
Having said all of the above, they don’t call it fintech for nothing. Some roles (by no means all) remain quite specific. These technical specialist roles can be quite discreet and compartmentalised, however your prospects will only be enhanced if you can demonstrate good soft skills and a curiosity around technological development.
Andrew Hanson is Managing Director at Robert Walters in New South Wales.
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