In this article, Chris Stappard, Managing Director of Edward Reed Recruitment, explains how you can make the switch from finance to fintech
We live in the digital age. Almost every aspect of our lives is now integrated with technology in one way or another, and once untouchable industries are being forced to adapt in order to stay alive. The financial sector has evolved rapidly over the last 10 years, with app-based software and cloud-based technology revolutionising the way the industry operates.
This has become known as fintech, and encompasses all the technological innovation that has turned financial services on its head. If you’re in traditional finance, you might be thinking about how you can make the switch to this dynamic and fast-paced sector. Fortunately, there is a lot of overlap, and the skills you already have are vital to the success of fintech, especially when it comes to start-ups.
In this article, I’m going to explain how you can transition from finance to fintech.
Identify your transferable skills
Just about every job requires skills that are transferable across multiple disciplines, and moving from finance to fintech is no different. The first step is to look at the skills you have developed over the years and assess which ones are needed by fintech firms. It’s true that coding, data analysis, and technology are the bread and butter of fintech, but there is still a need for more traditional financial skills.
The ability to look at numbers and understand the big picture are key in fintech, and if you have experience of management and the ability to galvanize a team towards a shared goal, you can fit in almost any organisation. But your personality traits are important too, and a strong work ethic and attention to detail are useful to any business, if you can demonstrate them. Whatever your current role is, you have a unique perspective and insight that you can bring to the table.
Understand your expectations
Now you know the skills you have to offer, it’s important to analyse the landscape and see what your realistic prospects are. Do you want a role where you will be working hard on a particular task all day, such as coding, or would you prefer a more generalist role where you can offer your skills across the business?
If you have the skills for the former, there are no shortage of jobs, but you will be competing against some of the top programmers out there. If you’d prefer the latter, then getting involved with a fintech start-up is a great way to bring fresh insight into the business and help propel it forward.
The key is to understand what role you want and where you might fit in. Staying with a traditional institution may grant you a larger salary, but you could be limited in the scope of your role. Getting your hands dirty with an up-and-coming business may not be as lucrative at the outset, but could pay off hugely in the long run.
Know how to sell yourself
Once you have a good understanding of what your goals are and what you can offer, you need to combine them together into your value proposition. Plenty of fintech companies would jump at the chance to hire a financial professional with years of experience and qualifications, even if their understanding of tech is limited. The question is, how will your skills contribute to a winning start?
Knowing how you might benefit the business from the off will make a strong impression in an interview scenario, but it’s important to know that you actually can add value to the business. For many fintech firms, candidates with a deep understanding of the financial sector who can understand the bigger picture of the company within the marketplace and can provide useful insights are vital.
Network and retrain
When it comes to switching jobs — or industries — getting help from others is always beneficial. You’ve likely got a large network or colleagues, clients, and industry friends that you’ve built up over the years, so use them. Look for people who have made a similar switch and succeeded, or try find someone who might be able to mentor you. The other benefit of networking is that it opens you up to more opportunities, and you may find someone who might be willing to collaborate.
If fintech hasn’t affected your career already, it soon will. Every industry is moving towards tech in one way or another, so it’s time to get on board before getting left behind. Now is the time to add new skills to your repertoire that, when combined with the skills you already have, will make you a standout candidate. What training you should do will depend on the role you are seeking, but having an understanding of programming, blockchain, machine learning and AI, and cybersecurity will stand you in good stead.
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