What’s it really like working in fintech? We spoke to some industry professionals about the common myths on working in the sector.
Fintech is one of the hottest industries to work in right now, but it’s easy to have certain misconceptions about what it’s really like working there.
To find out what some of those myths and misconceptions are, we spoke to those already working in the fintech industry to get a more authentic idea of what it’s really like and what people commonly get wrong.
1. Anyone can do it
Claire Heaslip is a manager in consulting at Deloitte and she said one of the biggest myths about working in fintech is that anyone can do it. In reality, it’s far from easy. “Fintech products look and feel easy to use and take no time at all to plug into – they’re meant to,” she said. “[But] behind the front-end of every tech product is a very complex and sophisticated piece of technology.”
2. Working in fintech aligns with a fun, exciting lifestyle
Heaslip said a common assumption is that because fintech seems fun, exciting and cool, that working in it is especially fun, exciting and cool, too. However, she said it’s a job like any other and much harder than people think. “The people you work with may very well be fun, exciting and cool; however, it is a much harder slog than working for an established employer, as most often you’re working for a business that is still creating itself.”
3. You’ll be working in a cool tech office
This is a myth that is not just attached to working in fintech, but many start-ups. People can often picture swanky WeWork-style offices with plenty of modern amenities and comfortable beanbags. Not the case, according to Heaslip. “Most early-stage companies start out in cramped old office spaces,” she said. “You’d better be prepared to do the job you were hired to do and take out the bins, too.”
4. The goals are to get a licence, build a unicorn and IPO
When you hear news about fintech companies, it’s often to do with getting licences, building unicorns and IPOs, so it’s understandable to think these are the goals a growing fintech should have. However, none of those goals are simple, common or even necessarily realistic. In fact, Heaslip said unicorns are so rare, they’re almost mythical. “To grow a company to the stage that it’s in a position to IPO shouldn’t be an automatic goal for every business, as not every business is suitable for IPO,” she added.
5. Fintech only relates to online financial services providers
When we talk about working in fintech, many minds jump straight to the new raft of tech companies dealing with finance. However, Mairéad Scanlon, director of technology management at Fidelity Investments Ireland, said she would see this as a misconception. “The term ‘fintech’ is often used to describe the new wave of online financial service providers; however, I’d consider it to include all of the tech advancements that spark from within bricks-and-mortar establishments, as well as the start-ups in this industry,” she said. “There is room for both of them, and in reality they complement each other in many ways.”
6. Fintechs will replace traditional players
Speaking of traditional bricks-and-mortar establishments, Cillian Leonowicz, a director in consulting and co-lead of the Deloitte EMEA blockchain lab, said one of the biggest myths is that fintech players will replace banks altogether and that traditional players will become irrelevant. “Typically, fintech (but not in all cases) attacks only a small portion of a value chain (or niche customer segment) where it can make an impact and create sustainable revenue streams,” he said. “[Traditional players] have the privilege of a core customer base that, through APIs and developments in open banking and PSD2, fintechs can ‘tap into’.”