Recap: Breaking Into & Navigating a Career in Fintech

Last week, ​Zeit and FinTech Today came together to host a conversation between some major players in the Fintech space about how to break into this hot industry and build out a career path. They also shared how they got started in the Fintech space and what various career path options there are in the industry.

Charley Ma (GM at AlloyAlloy), Trevor Marshall (CTO at Current), and Colleen Wenk (Head of People at Rho) sat down with our Ambika Nigam (Co-founder and CEO of Zeit) and Julie Verhage (Founder of Fintech Today) to deep dive into all things Fintech. 

Did you miss the event? No worries! We recorded the event so you could watch it whenever is best for your schedule. You can also keep reading for a quick recap of the highlights of the event. 

The Takeaways

How to Pivot

Making a pivot to a new industry is intimidating, but the panelists assured attendees that there was no need to fear leaping into a career in Fintech. "Even if you don't come from an obvious background, there are ways to position your candidacy to provide that signal for what companies are looking for so that they're willing to take a chance on someone for the X,Y, Z role that they're hiring for," Charley explained. 

Trevor held a similar stance to Charley, “A lot of people think that they need to have financial experience to work at Current,” Trevor noted, but he finds himself repeatedly telling people that what Fintech companies are really looking for is people who work the right way and can fit into their environment. “Most of what we're measuring is communication and ability to work through problems in a collaborative way. But the same thing goes for all the other roles that we hire for, like...we look more, much more, towards sort of ways of thinking rather than what you know,” Trevor said.

Passion can also go a long way according to Charley, who shared how he got his start in the Fintech industry. He advised using the interview process to show how passionate you are about the company. He broke into Fintech without a relevant background because he showed the founders of the first Fintech company he worked at that he was “weirdly passionate” about their business during his interview. 

A bit nervous about taking a leap into a new role in Fintech? You can always use a move into a Fintech company to make another pivot into a different role later on if you choose the right kind of company. “I think anytime you find yourself in an environment that is growing that quickly, there's always like an exponentially growing list of jobs to be done. And so if you're a really, really high performer, you've done great in your role, you have a lot of contacts, and you've built a lot of cross-functional relationships, I always tell them, there's always room to pivot into other roles,” Charley shared. 

You Need to Be Comfortable in the Messiness

Once you land a role in Fintech, what comes next? If you choose to work at a Fintech startup, Trevor advises getting comfortable in that fast paced environment and trusting in your abilities, “You have to be very confident in your own self worth at early stage companies. Because you will not be given a promotion, you will not be given the direct feedback that falls within yearly review cycles.” 

Trevor went on to explain that while companies get their footing over time and things like annual reviews become more standard, you need to be comfortable dealing with a somewhat chaotic environment if you choose to go the startup route, “A lot of like the early days of companies are very messy. And so you have to be extremely comfortable being in that mess for a long time for an undetermined amount of time.” 

Now is the Time to Leap

One of the most exciting takeaways from the event was that now is an ideal time to take the leap and pursue a pivot into the Fintech space. Julie recommended taking advantage of the unique time period we’re all living through, “It's just that it's so much easier to find roles at new companies, given the state of the world these days. You can work remotely or hybrid from a lot of places in a lot of different teams.” Julie explained that before, if you wanted to work in Fintech, you had to live in either San Francisco, New York, London, or another major city. “Now you can live in a suburb of those areas, you could live like very far away from those areas and still be able to work there in many cases. So a lot of doors have opened in that sense that I think people would be remiss not to take advantage of.”

Colleen also feels now is the time to make a move, “It is a candidate's market, there are more jobs than there are candidates. And, you know, just keep that in mind as you go out there, because interviewing is hard and pivoting is hard.”

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