Whether you’re a pioneer fintech leader, or someone from the banking world who has just made the transition, you can’t deny we are in the middle of a perfect storm. A range of factors are converging and despite the huge potential of fintech, finding best-in-class talent to continue to drive the industry’s growth is no easy feat. News headlines are overflowing with claims that a talent shortage is holding us back.
Can a Martial Arts mindset fix the fintech talent shortage?
I’ve realised through LU Global’ s recent partnership with ONE Championship that not only is an investing mindset very similar to that of martial arts athletes, but perhaps our talent needs are closely linked to an athlete’s mindset also.
Fintech and ONE Championship are both highly competitive, fast-moving arenas that are attracting some of the world’s best talent. Just like a cohesive fighting strategy, fintech talent needs to have an aggressive mindset and a variety of skills to break down traditional barriers. Like the different disciplines of a martial artist, fintech talent should have diverse skills. Your marketing – your kickboxing. Your data analytics – your jiu-jitsu. Your financial acumen – your wrestling. And your business acumen – your conditioning. The way a martial artist incorporates these disciplines allows for multiple methods of neutralizing an opponent’s strength – it works the same way in fintech.
Tech and financial talent must come together
The first step then is hiring a mix of tech and financial talent to ensure we have diverse skills to overcome challenges. Pure tech talent can’t be the solution. That’s exactly why martial arts evolved.
I once learned Taekwondo and while my kicks were good, kicking skill alone is clearly not enough to outperform a component.
Sure, fintech wasn’t created by the traditional finance industry but we need to combine the tech skill with the traditional knowledge and skills from the financial industry to understand regulatory frameworks, and understand the different needs of the markets – that’s the only way we can grow. The struggle is, it’s a well-accepted fact that banks offer a stable and rewarding career option – not everyone wants to take the ‘risk’ on a job at a fintech company, and not everyone is interested in tech.
Fintech is a new phenomenon
This demand for traditional financial knowledge, merged with technical know-how and creative thinking is what is driving the talent shortages across the fintech world. It’s a difficult juggling act. But I also wonder, are we looking for a non-existent candidate that miraculously has all the knowledge and experience we need? Are we forgetting that fintech is a new phenomenon, that wasn’t taught in schools even 5-years ago, let alone 20 years ago? That’s why it’s so hard to find this imaginary person.
So, what can we do?
A demand for a flexible and global view of business should be valued higher than degrees. That’s not to say education has no value. I’m armed with an MBA myself, but I’m also the first to admit that academic degrees do not always provide the kind of “flexibility” required for fintech to succeed in this rapidly new, and evolving world. We’re traditionally attracted to a prestigious academic background, but this is not what fintech needs.
It’s no different to the mission of ONE Championship. Their mandate is to unleash real life superheroes who ignite the world with hope, dreams, inspiration and strength. Fintech is trying to do the same. What stands out about ONE is the diversity of their champions who have conquered unfathomable poverty, tremendous adversity, unspeakable tragedy and impossible odds to achieve their dreams. Diversity in martial arts, in fintech, in anything, is critical.
What’s the secret recipe?
To enable growth and allow fintech and traditional banks to better collaborate with banks, the
“this is not my scope of work”
mindset, won’t make it. I believe fintech talent needs to have three things in order to keep up with the pace of technological change:
1) Adaptable mindsets
2) Astute awareness
3) Incisive curiosity
These mindsets are also very similar to martial arts athletes.
But, don’t forget agility
Above all, agility is a must. For martial artists, and for fintech talent. The reality is fintech products are built in stages, with new features added (and removed) in response to customer needs. By having adaptable mindsets, astute awareness and incisive curiosity our talent will be collaborative problem solvers but with agility, they will also be able to be resilient and shift gears quickly. These are the most valuable fintech talent commodities.
To achieve this at LU Global, I ask myself 3 questions daily – What can we do better? Who benefits from this? How can we make it even simpler?
These questions permeate all of our business processes.
Other than that, I wholeheartedly believe fintech should welcome anyone with the passion to improve financial services for the benefit of the customer. Fintech isn’t a luxury fashion label to flaunt or a fleeting trend, we need talent with the mindset of martial artists – talent who are ready to face challenges and want to be here to make a difference, not just because it’s cool.