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The financial technology (FinTech) scene in London is booming. A recent article from Business Insider cited that two startups in the capital are already worth $1 billion (£650 million), and the city is well on its way to becoming the leading light for European Fintech. It’s also estimated that over 40% of London’s workforce is linked to the finance or technology industry, with this statistic continually rising as more FinTech companies set up shop in the capital.
It’s no wonder corporate giants are continually looking to invest in or buy out these start-ups. The innovative, forward-thinking nature of these tech companies has cut out years of research and development for many old finance dinosaurs. It’s cheaper, easier, and swerves a few regulations if the big corporations either buy-out or invest a stake in a FinTech company from an early stage.
But as big as the industry is, many of the graduates that we speak to aren’t too clued up on what some of these companies do, and may not understand the benefits of working for them. Don’t worry – our graduates’ guide to FinTech will get you up to speed!
Traditionally, financial technology has been aimed at big business. Typically, it consisted of large, bespoke database solutions which stored and protected information. A business’s staff where trained on how to use these databases, and if there was any consumer interaction, it was on a very basic, transactional level.
After the 2008 global economic crisis, a lot of faith was lost in the old system, creating a need for independence in financial management. As a result, a far more complex user was born – one that had the needs of both business and consumer at the forefront of its mind.
The mobile revolution removed several restrictions on consumers: no longer were they confined to a designated building or a desktop computer. But the finance world wasn’t ready for such easy access and the old finance systems – though secure – weren’t user friendly, innovative or ready for mobile.
Enter Fintech companies. Over the last five years, these small businesses have updated and reinvented the systems of old, focusing more on individual users’ needs.
We work with a number of FinTech companies here at Give A Grad A Go, some of whom we’ve collaborated with for over four years. We’ve seen first-hand the quick expansion of these businesses and some of the graduates we have placed within them are now leading figures in their companies. We spoke with Lavinia a graduate we recently placed at one of such companies, to get the inside scoop,
“I’m so happy to now be working at a really great forward thinking company that has a genuine interest in individual professional development.
The industry is growing so quickly so it’s such a great time to be involved as it allows you not only the opportunity to be exposured to this area (which is very much up and coming), but also allows you to learn lots of invaluable skills with regards to business as a whole.
Overall, it’s great to be surrounded by motivated and driven people in and industry which is rapidly expanding and offers an opportunity for such rapid progression.”
We’re always looking for bright graduates to join FinTech businesses in a number of different roles. Though every position is different, there are normally a few common traits these companies look for in their hires.
If you’re going to pursue a career in finance, you will need to be good with numbers. This is even more of a prerequisite for a FinTech company because you will be more than likely dealing with large amounts of data, whether that’s analysing the users of a system or understanding the logic behind the systems themselves.
There is always work to be done in a startup and you will need to have the ability to work with an independent attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit while wearing many different hats within the business. This is beneficial for the graduate too: you get to assume more responsibility than you would have otherwise, which often speeds up your progression within the company.
FinTech companies evolve to feel like they have been born out of user necessity. The reality is that the market was built by smart business leaders at the very forefront of technology: those who identified a need, and made a product that catered to it. You’ll need to show a similar passion for technology if you interview with a FinTech business, and it helps if you’re able to display this through either previous experience or pursuits outside of the workplace.
Though you will be working within a creative environment, a degree of professionalism is expected even in entry-level FinTech roles. This is even more important if you’re working in a client-facing role, as you’ll be meeting the corporate side of the finance world: to explain how they’ll benefit you’re your company’s services, you need to be able to illustrate that you’re serious about your offering.
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