So you want to move into Fintech?

Posted on 02 December 2019

It’s not just startups and new challengers making waves in the fintech market.  The last few weeks have seen some of the worlds largest conventional commercial banks shift focus and invest more capital and talent in innovating digital banking and fintech products.

More information came to light on Deutsche Bank’s fintech inside a bank, Breaking Wave, which is according to most accounts, operating independently to the bank’s more traditional teams and colleagues.  A move that is no doubt raising some eyebrows from those who feel their current position in the bank is less than stable.

Recently, Santander splashed out GBP 350m on a majority stake in Ebury, in a play that was seen as a strategic opportunity for the bank to win and service SME business without the heavy costs usually associated with SME banking.

And here in the UAE, Emirates NBD continues its push to be one of the world’s most innovative banks, with its new fintech offerings, E20 and Liv, at the forefront of the bank’s latest digital initiatives.

During the same period some of those same banks announced significant headcount cuts within their more traditional units; Emirates NBD reducing headcount in Dubai, and Deutsche Bank continues its widespread global restructuring and cost cutting drive.

It’s no wonder that more and more bankers starting to consider careers outside of banking and moving into the fintech space. So, what do you need to focus on to make the transition?

  • Be humble:

    Fintech firms aren’t the place for the trading floor or investment banking ego.  You’ll be working with a mix of people, many of whom won’t have a background in banking or finance, and some senior figures will likely be younger than you.  Be prepared to take on work outside of your job description, as when funding can only stretch so far, everyone is on the hustle.

  • Collaborate:

    Working in a fintech means more dependence on other internal functions than in a large investment bank.  Be ready to knowledge share and integrate, cross collaboration is key.

  • Know more:

    You don’t need to be able to code or to be a developer to be hired by a fintech, but you should be able to speak the language and to understand how each team within the firm needs to work together to deliver products, solutions, or to resolve issues for clients.  Some bankers supplement their finance knowledge with extracurricular courses such as the University of Hong Kong’s online Fintech course.

  • Bring experience:

    Your banking experience won’t be redundant. For example, a background in regulatory compliance will help navigate the regulatory requirements for new products, or entry into new markets.  A background in business development, strategy, modelling, or quantitative analytics to name a few will all have their places within a fintech team.

  • Money; expect less (for now):

    Working in a fintech offers more than just financial reward.  For the most part, salaries and bonuses associated with front office banking aren’t available when moving to a fintech.  However, where available negotiate equity on the way in (particularly with early stage or startup firms), and your contribution to the success of the firm will be hopefully rewarded.

  • Network:

    Networking on behalf of technology enabled firms and fintechs is key, as  opportunities for collaboration, innovation, sales, funding, as well as finding new talent is often generated through the individuals relationships and network.  Being visible, present, and engaged at events such as Singapore Fintech Festival and Fintech Abu Dhabi is important.

  • Be social:

    Stay on top of and follow the LinkedIn profiles of leaders with fintech firms, to stay abreast of industry developments and updates. Stay engaged, and make sure that your profile is showcasing the skills and experience that will be most relevant to you making the transition.

The list could go on, but the above are a few starting points to consider when thinking about making the transition from banking into fintech.  If you’d like to discuss how you could make the move and what opportunities are currently available in the market, get in touch at

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