Dear Luc: Does my fintech firm need ex-bankers to succeed?

I want to build out my executive leadership team. Should I be looking at ex-bankers, or would that be too boring?

Luc Gueriane, Moorwand CCO

I want to build out my executive leadership team. Should I be looking at ex-bankers, or would that be too boring?
Confession #7: Boring bankers?

Dear Luc,

I want to build out my executive leadership team. Should I be looking at ex-bankers, or would that be too boring?

Former bankers can offer the right mix of experience to new firms

Getting to a stage where you want to grow your business by adding to your executive team is an incredibly exciting time, especially considering the fast-moving and competitive nature of the fintech industry.

Selecting the right people to join can seem like a daunting task, but I believe there are many people right for the job.

I understand that fintechs view themselves as being worlds apart from the traditional banking space, and whilst this is true in terms of legacy systems and bureaucratic management, fintech has evolved from those spaces and does still have a lot of similarities.

Ex-bankers may seem like a boring option for your executive team, however, you need to remember that since ‘fintech’ was first established it has gone from the wild west to a heavily controlled environment.

It is rapidly catching up with banking regulations and with that comes the growing need for people with the experience of intense regulatory scrutiny and adapting to changing compliance requirements.

As financial products in the market continue to evolve, the regulations have gone from relatively light touch to stricter pressures on fintechs and electronic money institutions (EMIs).

To me, that would imply that hiring ex-bankers could actually have huge benefits for your firm. Whilst I appreciate that banks aren’t known for their innovative nature and this may put fintechs off as it doesn’t match their forward-thinking ethos, it doesn’t mean that the people working there aren’t innovative.

Rather, they have often been limited by the legacy technology and how difficult it is to make any changes to the infrastructure. Getting someone on board who has years of experience in traditional banking could be the perfect partnership.

By bringing together new and old financial viewpoints, your business will become more competitive which will help you stand out from the crowd.

Aside from ex-bankers, it is worth looking for someone with a strong commercial background, and they don’t necessarily have to be from within finance. With many fintechs being scrutinised for a lack of profitability, finding people who can bring fresh ideas to your business – in terms of creating return for your investors – is never going to be a bad thing.

Often fintech founders know their businesses inside out, and their passion shines through to all that know them, but turning a profit involves having people who can take that passion and sell it to customers.

Another alternative could be looking to hire someone from the tech space. Big tech has been booming for a long time and many of the larger tech companies are said to be struggling with maintaining the start-up feeling that they are so known for.

Actively seeking out someone who has lived and breathed this environment could be the perfect person to elevate your business, whilst also allowing them to join a smaller and more agile fintech firm.

There are many options for the ‘right’ person, but it is worth mentioning that variety will be key to a successful leadership team. Hiring people with just banking or tech backgrounds will come with risks. Diversity is always going to benefit the business in the long run.

Colleagues with different backgrounds and perspectives will come up with more solutions which leads to better informed and improved decision-making processes and results. With that in mind, even if someone might not necessarily feel like an obvious choice, sometimes the most unlikely partnerships create the best businesses.

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