Not Your Mama's Bank Account

Six Things to Consider Before Hiring a Fintech Product Designer

Fintech startups have come a long way in terms of their user experience. Companies like Robinhood, Koho, and Chime have reimagined user experiences to ensure there's no resemblance to our mama's bank accounts!

With all of this industry-wide innovation happening, it has created a scarcity of fintech-focused design talent. Designers are notoriously hard to hire, which is why we have built out a Design Practice to help our fintech startups and scale-ups land this exclusive group of top talent. 
Our Design Practice Lead, Tyler Pelley, has been recruiting product design leaders for the last three years and shares his advice on the top six things to nail down before starting to interview senior design talent:

1. Decide on the type of portfolio and design style you want

Is this position research-heavy, UX-heavy, UI-heavy, or is the position end-to-end product design focused? 

Spend time with the product and design team to figure out exactly who you need, what you need, and why you need it, in order to better inform your recruitment partners or hiring managers on the type of portfolio to seek out. This will also help the design team clarify the type of candidate they want and the role's overall job description parameters. 

Product Design isn’t as generalized as other departments in that the interview process heavily relies on the portfolio case studies. Before commencing a search, there needs to be a clear organizational structure of the design team and a clear job description as it will ultimately dictate the type of candidate and portfolio you need. Most Designers fall into a specific archetype, so it’s essential to figure out which one you need and focus your messaging to attract that niche.

2. Rethink your interview process and candidate experience

Streamline your process! You may think it may be easy to snap up talent after some recent downsizings, but it's still a very competitive market for design talent with specific fintech experience, so this is not a time to drag your feet on hiring. 

Think through the interview process logically and remove any unnecessary steps. Most importantly, identify who will review the portfolio and the criteria by which it will be judged. 

It is important to note that interview processes should be flexible. If there is a candidate that has a special circumstance, then your interview process should also be accommodating, flexible, and provides a good candidate experience. 

Candidate experience is incredibly vital to the hiring success of a company. This process acts as a candidate’s small glimpse into how a company values their employees and what type of culture they have.

When dealing with in-demand talent, flexibility is also a must. For example, if your front runner is in the final stages with another company, get flexible and combine your portfolio analysis with your whiteboard challenge. Perhaps collapse two interviews with SLT members into one. Candidates may forget specifics, but they will remember the feelings surrounding how they were treated during the interview process.

3. Get missional 

This is the third but most important point when trying to woo a Designer. You need to make sure whoever is interviewing the candidate nails the company's mission and continues to emphasize it throughout the interview. 

Unlike other departments (cough, Sales), Designers are looking for more than dollars and titles, they are looking for a strong value proposition. We have even placed a few Designers who took a slight pay cut because the brand's mission and their mission within the company really aligned with their personal values. 

From day one, you need concise, clear messaging on your company’s why, and continue to drive this home throughout the entire interview process. 

4. Showcase your culture

Designers are missional in focus, but also want to work in a culture that fuels and empowers their creativity and passion. Just as you need to drive the mission home from day one, you need to showcase your company and product culture. If the “vibes are off” in interviews, Designers will ghost you.

Ensure your culture is front and center from day one - that way, a candidate can decide whether they like that environment. This saves a lot of wasted interview time down the road. 

In addition to being missional, share and highlight the perks of your culture that matter most to your design-focused candidates. Maybe your salary isn’t the highest, but you can win them with your mission, charitable affiliations, remote options, flexibility in hours or 4-day work weeks, benefits, talent & career development, or any other special perks your organization has to offer. 

5. Attract what you can afford 

While it was mentioned above that some Designers will take a pay cut, it has never been any drastic or below market rate. At the end of the day, it’s still a job that puts food on the table, and talented Designers are some of the highest-paid IC roles in a product team. 

If you cannot afford to attract top-tier Designers with your salary, it’s time to get creative so you can afford the best within your budget. Where to get creative:

  • Experience: Look for those with fewer years of experience but stunning portfolios or those who are hungry for growth.
  • Geographic Focus: Canadian Designers tend to be paid less than their American counterparts. The same goes for those who reside in big cities vs. small towns.
  • Equity / Options

6. Implement ad hoc creative design projects

Many Designers will look for opportunities that will not only expand their experience but also their design thinking. Implementing ad hoc creative projects can help satisfy a Designer's ‘creative itch’ and promote their critical thinking skills. 

Product Designers, like many other professions, need diversity when it comes to projects. Outlining this flexibility within a job description is a great way to add appeal to the role. At the end of the day, creative minds need a variety of creative stimulation and mental breaks so it’s important to adapt job descriptions and responsibilities to match a design talent’s key strengths. 

If you notice that a Product Design candidate is ambitious or likes to shift their focus from time to time, you should showcase how your team would be able to add them onto a different project whereby they can unwind and refocus their energy. This will ultimately help keep their creative juices flowing and allow them to come back to their main project feeling refreshed.

To save time-to-hire and interview cycles, ensure these six points are nailed down before starting to engage with the fintech designer market.

Our team at Martyn Bassett Associates are subject matter experts building Product and Design teams that drive scale. Learn more about our work at