There are many reasons why you might want to move from banking to fintech. Fintech jobs can be more fulfilling. They can involve more exciting programming languages. And - most importantly - they're more likely to involve remote working.
But if you're applying for a fintech job, particularly if you come from a major bank, there are a few things you need to know first. Despite what Jonathan Pomeranz, New York-based head of the fintech practice and co-head of financial services at True Search describes as a "total war for talent," fintechs can be very choosy.
Emphasize how you've been entrepreneurial within your existing roles (even if they're at a big bank)
“If you’re trying to move from a major bank to a fintech, it makes sense to emphasize the 'intrapreneurial' experience you have on your resume," says Pomeranz. Fintechs want to know what you’ve done with what's available, he adds, and how you worked with a small team to create a vision that wasn’t in existence before you crafted it. "They want to see what you’ve scaled from X to Y. In banks, a lot of people are building version 10 or version 100 of a product, but in fintech it’s about creating new products and showing that you can be innovative with limited resources."
Pomeranz says you need to look for experiences that reflect this. "If you’re in marketing, how have you created a brand or repositioned something? – How did you move from X to Y?”
Demonstrate that you're agile and flexible
Shaun Rutter, a London-based fintech headhunter at Excelsior Search says you need to think about the words you use on your CV. "Mix in words like adaptable, flexible and agile, but more than that talk about examples of fast-paced projects / environments, working / delivering in small teams, instances of adapting to change, and proactively / raising your hand for projects and tasks that are not necessarily part of one's normal job responsibilities," says Rutter.
Reflect your ability to solve problems
Working for a fintech isn't like working for a big bank. Rutter says fintechs can be wary of hiring from major banks, particularly for senior technology roles where traditional bank technologists aren't experienced in a fintech environment. You therefore need to position yourself very carefully using your CV.
One of the most important elements of this positioning is to show that you're a problem solver. "Most of all, fintech firms want people who can think differently and solve problems not just based on past experience," says Pomeranz. "You need to be forward-looking and growth oriented. They’re not looking for people who say ‘This is how we did things at bank X.’”
Make a lot of your willingness to go outside your comfort zone
A lot of fintechs are concerned about hiring people who seem too used to, "the perceived ‘safety net’ of a big banking infrastructure and resources," says Rutter. You need to demonstrate that you can function just as well in a smaller company where you might need to take on tasks you haven't done before.
One way of doing this is to look for innovative opportunities at a current employer before assembling your new fintech resume.
“If you’re working for a major bank, it makes sense to get as close as you can to emerging products within the financial institution," says Pomeranz. "Look for what’s innovative, and where the new products are being developed, and try to participate. This will make it much easier to move into fintech than if you’ve been working on legacy systems.”
Emphasize your knowledge of regulation
You might think that fintechs and banks are two different things, but Pomeranz emphasizes the overlaps. - "The banks want fintech talent as they try to become more like fintechs, and fintechs are hiring from banks as they need regulatory and compliance expertise and people who understand how to run a full suite financial institution. – The line between the two is becoming more blurry.”
If you can emphasize your understanding of the regulations that are increasingly impacting the fintech sector, it will be a plus.
Keep it relevant, keep it tight
As with all resumes, Rutter also cautions against submitting applications that appear irrelevant in terms of market and domain knowledge and skills and experience appropriate to the role. He stresses that you need to make a case for your value as an individual rather than as part of a team. - Make sure your personal value is clearly articulated and that the right information is easy to find.
Find a fintech CEO to champion your CV
Once your resume is ready, find someone to champion it - preferably someone already employed in the fintech sector. Pomeranz says fintechs love networking and that it helps to network in the fintech space. "As headhunters, we take referrals from other fintech executives very seriously. Cultural fit is very important. – Especially in the early stages, joining a fintech can be like joining a family."
Lastly, chill. Fintechs are similar to banking, but they're not the same. "Take off your suit and relax! – Formality isn’t nearly as important,” Pomeranz concludes.
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