It’s not every day you build a new team from scratch – hiring managers and subject matter experts in a brand-new field, especially in one as specialised as fintech. But that’s precisely what a majority of business leaders are planning to do.
Earlier this year, we published our first report on embedded finance uptake in Europe. We found that 92% of businesses are planning to launch embedded finance within the next 5 years. To unlock this opportunity, 67% of respondents said they would build a new internal fintech team to partner with third-party infrastructure providers and co-create these embedded finance solutions.
Clearly business leaders are excited about what embedded finance can offer them. But if you have never had any fintech team or service within your business, how do you know what to look for, or how to start building it?
To make matters trickier, hiring fintech talent comes with its own set of challenges. As the report explains:
“Best-in-class talent will be critical for analysing and building the offerings that will prove most useful to each sector. However, the demand for fintech talent over the last few years has already proved insatiable, and unsustainable. The labour market has not been able to keep pace with demand so despite fintech’s huge potential, the recruitment and retention of talent has always been an ongoing challenge.”
So we thought it would be a good idea to ask the experts for their advice. Our Chief People Officer Aysun Ahi and Head of Talent Kinga Szumska joined OpenPayd early on. They have seen the company grow to over 100 members of staff and have helped make us one of the UK’s fastest growing startups. We spoke to them about what it takes to build a high-performing fintech team.
How to hire an internal fintech team
Hire personalities: “One of the most important pieces of advice we can give is to not underestimate the importance of personality” says Aysun. “The fintech market is incredibly competitive which makes it difficult to always find people with the level of experience you might want.
“What’s more important is to find people that can learn quickly, have fresh ideas and exhibit some sort of entrepreneurial spirit – people who are excited by the journey the business is taking.
“A single hire can make such a huge impact – both in a good sense and bad. If the chemistry is not right, you’re just creating more challenges for yourself in the future.”
Create a fair and robust process: Aysun and Kinga both suggest putting a lot of thought into your hiring process, particularly when it comes to letting a candidate know they haven’t been successful.
“Try to remember that an applicant which wasn’t quite right for this role may well be perfect for something similar in a year’s time” says Kinga. “In such a competitive market your company’s reputation is highly important. Proving yourselves as a business which does things the right way will take you further than you think.”
Aysun adds that having a diverse panel during the decision making is a smart move. “You’re building a team from scratch, so don’t put all of that responsibility on one person. People see things differently and a collegiate approach is definitely best when you’re creating a whole new team”.
Remember this will take some time: Your business may have certain goals relating to time-to-hire, but when you’re building a new team from scratch, it’s worth taking the time to do it right. As Kinga explains, “it’s far better going forward to spend six months finding the right person, than only spending 3 months but that person not passing their probation period.”
Skills assessments can also be advantageous, especially for technical roles. “Some people are excellent conversationalists and interview brilliantly but might not approach tasks in the way that you’d like. Others are the polar opposite – they get nervous in interviews but do sensational work. If you’re hiring for new tech- or fintech-specific positions, skills assessments prevent you from being over-reliant on gut feeling” says Aysun.
Be flexible: While these decisions shouldn’t be rushed, you are rarely going to find the ‘perfect’ candidate. “With fintech being so competitive there will be times where you need to compromise on something, whether that be knowledge base, salary, working experience or whatever else. It’s a good idea to go into the hiring process having decided what you can compromise on for that role – it can help speed things up” explains Aysun.
The talent you need is out there, you may just have to dig a little deeper to find it as you build out your first internal fintech team. Taking your time to find the right personalities, through a clear and transparent process, will put you in a good position to launch embedded finance quickly and successfully.