It is an exciting time to be in the financial technology space. As the sector has gone from strength to strength, we are witnessing a distinctive move towards a digital society and leading fintech firms have become household names. Today over 70% of digitally active adults in the UK use a fintech service – well above the global average. The Kalifa Review of UK Fintech published earlier this year recognises the strategic importance of the fintech sector for the UK economy and sets a strategy and a delivery model for the UK to provide leadership in this sector by building markets for this innovation to grow into.
With the Government’s commitment to ensure the UK maintains its position as the best place in the world to start and grow a fintech business, and with the fintech job market booming, I wanted to get 4 of my friends and colleagues from across the fintech industry to share their top-tip on how to start and build a career in this very exciting industry.
Let me start by sharing my top-tip myself: make sure that your voice is heard. The financial technology world can seem a very male dominated environment in which to work. However, we’re seeing many more women work their way up in organisations, being active members of senior management teams and sitting on various boards across the industry. With a push for diversity at all angles, and a flurry of new and exciting technologies, now is the perfect time to join this industry. But the key is to establish a leadership presence and ensure that your voice is heard, which ultimately comes down to confidence. I wrote a while ago about how we all must find our own ‘trick’ to feeling more confident in ourselves, and how mine was putting on red lipstick, a symbol of confidence that worked wonders for me. So, work on feeling more confident, establish a leadership presence and ensure your voice is always heard.
Monica Velasquez Torres, Chief Technology Officer, Recognise Bank
“Technology is not just about ‘coding practice’ or designing architectures; it is about a human journey where curiosity is the most important variable. Understanding as much as we can about the technology and the sector we work in enables us to stop questioning whether we are good enough for something, and instead trust in our ability. We also need to learn to try and embrace failure, if it happens.
“Building and growing a career in technology is about many different components, but most importantly it is about embracing these challenges and the lessons we learn from them. It’s also about having a growth mindset, whereby continuous questioning, analysis and confrontation are the keys to a great contribution. People should also think about what they want the legacy of their journey to be.
“But this is not just about the individual and what they want from their career. Working in technology also means having the ability and opportunity to influence others and to generate impact with your work. So my advice to women in fintech is: now is the time to trust in your abilities, influence and make an impact. Now is the time to do something, rather than wonder ‘what would happen if I did it?”
Janine Hirt, CEO, Innovate Finance
“Believe in yourself, be authentic, kind to others, and work with integrity. Know and understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and be confident enough to build a team around you that are better than you are at their specific focus areas. Learn from others who have gone before you, find those mentors you can trust fully, both men and women, and set time aside to support, guide and build up others earlier in their career. Passion and kindness is inspiring and infectious.”
Liza Haskell, Chief Administrative Officer, Tide
“Get back to first principles to get under the skin of the business
The financial services and fintech sectors have a perception of being very complicated and difficult to thrive in without prior experience. However, every industry has its own challenges and complications, don’t be afraid to get stuck into complex topics, pull them apart and understand them. By taking the time to understand what a business’s goals are, who the customers are, and how the products help those customers, things quickly become clearer. Most of the time, after some digging, I find those challenging topics are actually very straightforward. Ask colleagues to explain things, once knowledge is gained you can make better, informed, decisions and propel your career.”
Nina Mohanty, Founder at Bloom Money
“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. I have always been a curious person and I love to ask questions. I have no doubt my parents and teachers from my childhood would agree that I have always wanted to try new things and push boundaries. This feeling of curiosity hasn’t dissipated as I’ve aged and has definitely helped me in my career. I’ll be clear here: the best person to advance your career will always be you. Even if you have strong mentors and champions, they can’t read your mind! This is where asking for what you want is important. Is there a new project you want to be a part of? Why not ask? Do you want a raise? Ask for it. Do you want to join a speaking engagement? Voice it! The worst thing that can happen is you’re told no. But if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.”