by Nicholas Harding, CEO, Lending Works | 11 March 2020
Roles in fintech are growing, and recently we have seen a massive increase in the number of Finance & Accountancy professionals utilising their skills and entering this growing sector. In this article, Nicholas Harding, CEO of peer-to-peer lending platform Lending Works, offers his advice for people with financial backgrounds who may want to transition over to fintech or secure a role in this growing sector.
The fintech industry in the UK is booming, generating an estimated annual turnover of £20 billion (IG) and creating many new, exciting jobs. So, it is no surprise that so many people aspire to work in fintech, whether they are soon-to-be graduates or have been working in other areas for a long time.
In this new industry, you will need a range of hard and soft skills, which you may have already acquired if you started your career in finance. Below, I will take you through just a few of the skills that makes people with financial backgrounds so desirable in this industry.
You do not necessarily have to be an expert in technology to do well in fintech. What you may find, is that employers are more interested in your financial knowledge, because you can provide insight into areas that could be improved by technology. You can also advise them of regulations and other limitations they will need to be aware of.
You will likely have experience using finance-specific tools and technology to complete your daily tasks, whether that is Excel or a custom-built accounting software. Having a comprehensive understanding of these tools can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates, especially if you can come up with ideas for how they can be improved or used for other purposes.
Hard skills are the talent and expertise you acquire through training or experience that allow you to perform well in a certain job. They are usually easy to prove by earning certificates, such as degrees or diplomas as evidence of a formal education. But hard skills also include things like additional languages and computer literacy.
One of the key hard skills finance workers pick up in the industry is data analysis. Fintech roles are usually very figure-driven, so having a strong data analysis aptitude will allow you to better use numbers to make business decisions. Financial reporting and forecasting are also important traits to have — plus, as there has been a shortage of candidates with this skill in recent years (Jobsite), it will make you more desirable.
Your role in finance should provide you with plenty of opportunities to practice developing the right hard skills, but you could consider looking into online courses or asking your employer to recommend some to hone your knowledge. Some can take a few years to complete, such as accountancy qualifications, but they will provide you with concrete evidence of your capability.
Do not forget that the ideal candidate also needs to have excellent soft skills, which are things like communication, networking, creative thinking, and time management — these are equally important in any role. Make sure you jump at every opportunity to exercise these whilst you are working in finance by volunteering to attend industry events and getting involved in optional projects.
It can also help to perform regular skills gap analysis. These are usually done employer-to-employee, but you can conduct one yourself to identify which areas you need to work on. For example, if you have had less experience putting together professional graphs or struggle to produce cleanly formatted charts, you can focus on developing your design skills. Frequently undergoing skills gap analysis and topping up your experience can help you become a more well-rounded and versatile employee.
When you decide to move on to fintech, it is also important to highlight any project management experience you may have picked up that can give you even more of an edge compared to other candidates, as these leadership skills are just as important as they are in other industries.
These are just some of the ways a career in finance can prepare you for a new role in fintech. From useful hard skills to crucial soft skills, there are plenty of transferable talents for you to acquire by working in the financial industry.
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