Getting In To Fintech
21 March 2017
If you like to keep your finger on the pulse of the business world, you will probably have noticed one word that is popping up at an increasing rate: fintech.
But what exactly is it? It’s the financial technology sector – think banking apps and other programmes used to support the financial industry.
It’s certainly a burgeoning field of employment, particularly for graduates (it’s estimated that 40% of London’s workforce is now linked to financial or technological industries) so there are plenty of opportunities to develop a successful career.
The banking industry has really had to modernise to sustain itself in mobile culture, which is why this is such a fast-paced, ever growing sector of work. Companies as far-ranging as Citibank and Skyscanner are now scouting the Scottish market. With our universities annually delivering 15,000 students with technology degrees, there is a clear talent pool here.
So what kind of skills and attitude will you need to succeed in this particular market? Though every role is different, there are a number of core skills that will serve you well, should you wish to pursue a career in fintech.
Without stating the obvious, if you’re headed for a career in finance, you’ll need to have a solid head for numbers. This is even more the case for fintech, where you’ll be responsible for handling large amounts of data. The majority of successful applicants will have a computer science degree, and those who don’t tend to come from a maths, physics or engineering background.
However, for less technical roles, such as business analysis or project management, banks will consider other degree disciplines.
If you’re working in a project management role, planning is, of course, the main element of the job. But if you are looking to move into a development role, experience with programming languages such as Java, C++, C# or Python is important. You don’t need to be a whizz kid at entry level but you do need to be able to understand the logic behind the systems.
A fundamental skill among any IT employee in banking is to be able to adapt to the rapid pace of change. Cyberattacks are very common in the financial industry and you’ll need to be able to keep up with ever-changing programmes, security software and hacking techniques.
A clear passion for technology will also stand you in good stead. Obviously, if you have taken your interest to degree level, that’s a good starting point. But, more than that, you’ll need to show that you’re always thinking of ways to improve on existing technology. Fintech companies were borne out of user necessity – have you come up with a similar project either through your education or outside interests? It’s all about identifying needs.
Independence and entrepreneurial flair are also highly desirable. A lot of fintech companies are self-starters, so they will be looking for someone who can relate to that type of work ethic. For a graduate, this is incredibly beneficial - you get to assume more responsibility than you would normally, which often speeds up your progression within a company.
Professionalism and maturity will be key to securing a client-facing role. You’ll be expected to hold meetings with the more corporate side of the fintech sector and you’ll need to be able to hold your own as you pitch and explain the benefits of your company’s services.
There are plenty of opportunities for bright graduates in the fintech sector. Logical thinking, drive and an ability to get serious will really serve you well in the industry. It’s all about maintaining the balance between analytical skills and creativity.
If you would be interested in pursuing a role in fintech, speak to our Divisional Director, Shona Preston. Click here to find out her contact details.
Written By Shona Preston