From bank-breakers, to innovators, to anarchists, the fintech “revolution” contains its fair share of colourful characters.
From bank-breakers, to innovators, to anarchists, the fintech “revolution” contains its fair share of colourful characters. Below is a short summary of some of the folks you’re bound to meet (whether you like it or not) while navigating the fintech sector.
N. B. I certainly do not claim to be exempt from the below list!
This person is in love first and foremost with the destiny of fintech, which is of course to collapse all forms of centralised control. They are totally besotted with the notion of disruption – you will find the word cropping up a startling amount in conversation. Blockchain is likely to be their chosen point of focus. It’s easy to spot an Anarchist because it will not take an Anarchist long to tell you that he/she is an Anarchist.
First thing to look for here is a clutch of board appointments. More than three, and you could very well have a Guru (or even a Godfather) on your hands. Rejoice, it’s a rare sighting. For the Guru has little time to spare amid frenzied social media self-promotion, several keynote speeches a month, and near-constant board meetings.
The Zealot has had a great idea but has gone slightly mad in the pursuance of it. That idea will usually be something reasonably niche – a tweak to the structure of something, for instance, or a new method of holding firms to account. You will admire the Zealot’s passion but may find yourself overwhelmed by the specificity and relentlessness of their rhetoric. Note that it is extremely unwise to challenge a Zealot; the Zealot has seen things so utterly clearly that they have become deaf to debate.
This person is just super excited about the changes being brought about by fintech, and genuinely passionate about changing finance – and indeed the world – for the better. They listen to four different fintech-focused podcasts and spend most weekday evenings at fintech drinks events. In all likelihood they will work for an ancillary business, a fintech “ecosystem” or “association”, which will probably be in some way “leading” (by its own estimation). You will not need to ask this person twice to take up a speaking role, and they will regularly remind you that fintech is supposed to be fun.
This one’s the classic “twelve years in a bank and I’d just had enough”. They will gladly speak at length about the evils of working in a big bank. But ironically they will also lean heavily on having worked in such an institution to justify their credentials… If he/she is a founder, he/she will have likely hired exclusively ex-bankers and probably a number of former colleagues… Bad places though, those banks.
Now and again you’ll find a swaggering City type – ordinarily on the older side – that fancies they've spied a nice little earner in fintech, and have deigned to bring their forty years of financial services nous (experience they reckon is entirely absent in fintech at present) to bear on the industry. Meeting these grizzled individuals in a shared workspace will be uncomfortable because they'll likely be dressed to the nines. And rest assured, whatever you say: they've seen it all before.
This person may not actually exist beyond the bounds of social media (I’m convinced there must be a few Influencer-bots out there). It will seem that they have no job other than to furnish their profile. These guys tend to have wonderfully colourful Twitter profiles (which are well-worth documenting), likely featuring a wealth of hashtags. Example: #Influencer #Speaker #Technologist #Eggshellpainter #Fatherofthree
You are very unlikely to understand what a Futurist tells you; the extent to which they understand it is also unclear. Whatever whacky vision of the future they offer, it is likely to forecast the doom of a vast range of traditional jobs and industries – all supplanted by the blockchain, the internet of things, virtual reality, etc. What will really surprise you will be the proximity of their predictions: by 2020, the City will be deserted. But to be fair, that may well be because humankind has vacated the planet entirely by then.
AltFi is returning to Amsterdam for its second annual Summit in the city. The inaugural event last year was a roaring success, with key figures from across Continental Europe's alternative finance and digital banking sectors highlighted. These included Jeroen Broekema, managing director of Funding Circle Netherlands, and Mieke van Engelen, head of innovative partnerships at ABN AMRO's standalone lending platform, New10.