Four Lessons from a Fintech Recruiter

I don't think there is a category of tech that has experienced more disruption or transformation than Fintech. Think…

  • Payments
  • RTR
  • Mobile banking
  • Consumer experiences
  • Insurtech
  • Billing workflows
  • Loan origination
  • Lending risk
  • Crypto

Over the last 20+ years recruiting for venture-backed tech startups, we've recruited for all of those categories of Fintech. During those searches, the same lessons appeared to us over and over again. So here are our top four lessons learned from partnering with venture-backed fintech CEOs:

1) Get Outside The Box

Most people know our firm for our Product Management Practice. We completed our first product search in 2006 and officially launched our Product Practice in 2016 as a response to the rising demands for senior-level product and UX talent across North America.

When it comes to recruiting product talent specifically for Fintechs, we've learned that many Founders/CEOs are open-minded to considering talent from other product categories.

This is not always the case for other tech categories. In fact, many Founders/CEOs in other categories find themselves in a hiring challenge simply because they limited the pool of talent to only those candidates who have experience solving for a similar problem.

What our experience has taught us is that due to the speed at which fintechs are driving change and transformation, they are more open to 'out of the box' thinkers or talent coming from different problem sets. Those who bring a different PoV are more likely to introduce innovation or ideation at scale. All of that to say, they end up getting the best of the best in talent because they don’t limit themselves. 

2) It’s All About APIs

We have not worked on a fintech product role that did not require experience in integrations in a long, long time. Whether a startup is solving for how:

  • money moves around, 
  • billing systems serve up data from backend systems,  
  • transaction processing affects a purchase flow,
  • predictability influences lending use cases

What we've learned is that fintech products are some of the most integrated products a Product Manager will ever work on.

Why is that an important fact to note? Because when it comes to hiring product talent who focus on the integration points, whether tactically or more strategically, they are some of the most sought-after and expensive talent a company will hire. Scarcity and specialty drive up demand for these candidates and therefore, their salaries.

The Integration Persona has become such a key part of fintechs that it has become one of the six main product archetypes that we are most often engaged to recruit for. The popularity of this archetype of PM will only increase amongst other tech categories in the future as well.

3) Design Matters

If you've ever spent time sitting with a personal banker at a bank branch and peeked at the software they're using, you'll understand what I mean when I say, "the days of green screens are dead." Millennials and GenZs, I am referring to legacy applications that are a screen of blinking fields waiting for data to be added.

Today's modern fintechs, even banks,  know that business users and consumers want intuitive workflows that follow the standards created by the famous apps we've learned to love. This means design matters.

Recruiting design talent for fintechs, as we've learned, leans heavily on UX research and design. High-profile startup Wealthsimple is one of the best examples of how one product took a long and complex workflow and iterated it into one touted as the gold standard for being easy and fast to onboard. 

Recruiting design talent for fintechs is a specialized talent given constraints from compliance and regulation standards. Designers who have reimagined and delivered frictionless experiences in new categories of fintech are often the talent our Founders/CEOs see as cornerstone hires to build their product brands. This showcases that even in the most regulated of industries, design is paramount to a company's success.

4) Sales Driven

For as long as I can remember, banks have always been a champion of innovation. Looking back at the early 2000s, the relationship between early adopters/investors was found in banks. 

A large enterprise knew that getting a bank's logo could mean the investment needed to build the MVP and gain credibility in the market that other customers would take note of and likely follow. For these reasons, the value of sales talent is often highest at a fintech company.

The pursuit to win a bank as a customer is a long and costly investment. Because the stakes are so high, a Founder/CEO often understands these economics and places a premium on sales talent with a track record of hitting quota in a 'no matter what' situation. 

Over time and with the deepening of relationships with our clients, we’ve learned that while Founders/CEOs may be flexible on the persona of the Product Manager they hire when it comes to hiring sales talent, experience selling to the C-suite of banks is a must-have, non-negotiable requirement.

When it comes to hiring, there is always an industry-specific type of talent where requirements are non-negotiable, and hiring takes a lot of time, effort, skill, and budget to hire effectively.


Looking for more work we’ve done with Fintechs? Check out our case studies.