FinTech1

Breaking into FinTech – An Insider’s Guide

In FinTech by Gaurav SharmaUpdated On:

FinTech1

The tech revolution is everywhere – from agriculture to aviation and from finance to logistics. The word “revolution” is used here to illustrate that the changes are significant and rapid. In order to succeed in this rapidly evolving tech revolution, you need to be agile and quick yourself. That is the key to getting into and succeeding in FinTech.

Being agile and nimble means continuously leaning new skills and being open to new opportunities wherever they may arise. You will need to go outside of your comfort zone which I find so few people are willing to do. That simple step alone can make a massive difference.

Jumping from Banking to FinTech can be a big leap but for me it was a small step because I already had many of the skills necessary to make the change. That is how you make the transition easier – by preparing yourself in advance so that when you leap, you hit the ground running. But don’t wait too long because the field is getting increasingly competitive everyday and the barrier to entry is rising.


1. FinTech Skill Requirements

But how exactly do you prepare for a career FinTech? I breakdown the basic requirement into three broad categories of skills:

1.1. Core Skills

Your core skills are what you are inherently good at. For example, you might be a great salesman or an exceptional organizer. These core skills can be acquired through childhood, college and even early on in your career. You need to pick a niche that fits well with your core skills.

1.2. Agile Skills

Gone are the days when you would graduate, join a company and stay there for the rest of your life. Just look at how quickly even basic business tasks are evolving. You need to continuously learn new skills, and this is demonstrated by the immense popularity of online courses and executive training programs.

1.3. Soft Skills

This is more about taking risks, being creative and passionate and all those other buzzwords. I know including these sounds cliched, but this is most definitely the biggest factor in determining success. If you are not properly motivated, hard skills will not amount to much.

While all careers require a combination of these, you need to focus a lot on your agile skills in FinTech. That is because FinTech is a rapidly evolving discipline and what was bleeding edge in 2020 might not be as hot in 2022.


2. Building Skills for FinTech

If you already have a healthy combination of all the necessary skills, then you are ready to break into FinTech. But if you are just starting out, the following is a collection of articles that will guide you towards developing the right skills.

2.1. The Best FinTech Courses/ Certifications

This article contains a list of the best fully online FinTech Courses and Certifications that I have hand picked for each use case. For example, the best course for bankers or the best course for those interested in crypto etc.

These courses are meant to give you a foundational understanding of what FinTech really is all about. You will learn about the opportunities, methodologies, tools, approaches, processes, competition, threats and everything else you need to make an informed career choice. Some of the courses also dive deep into a specific topic – like Blockchain or AI.

Best FinTech Courses/ Certifications ranked by Bankers (2020)


2.2. Learning Python

Python is one of the most popular languages used in mainstream finance and FinTech. It has wide applications in various fields including data science, AI, machine learning and beyond. Which is why I highly recommend you at least look into it if you are interested in FinTech.

Python works well for mathematical and statistical applications which makes it especially popular in the finance industry. It is also quite accessible which means that finance pros can learn it without having to devote too much time on trying to learn something completely alien.

Best Python Courses for Banking, Finance & FinTech (2020)


2.3. Best Programming Languages for Finance/ FinTech

Python is not the only language used in FinTech. C++ is still used by many of the largest banks and is probably one of the most common ones. There is also R, VBA, Java and others. Each programming language has specific advantages that make is appealing for certain applications. Which one you need to learn, depends on what you want to do and where you want to work.

For example, legacy banking systems use C++ a lot, VBA is used for financial modelling and scenario testing while Python is good for AI and so on. Read the following article to figure out which one is right for you.

Best Programming Languages for Banking, Finance & Fintech


2.4. Breaking into Data Science

Each year, businesses are generating an enormous amount of data. As you can imagine, banks and financial services companies are pretty high on this list given their transaction volumes. But all that data is meaningless unless someone can make sense of it and process it into meaningful information and actional insights.

That is where Data Science comes in. These courses will help you fill that role. There is a massive shortage of data scientists and that is propelling the popularity of these courses.

Best Data Science Courses (2020) for Finance & FinTech


2.5. Breaking into Cyber Security

I am an ex-banker turned FinTech consultant and do you know what is the #1 concern in the minds of all my clients? Cyber Security. It is a much bigger deal than you might think. Just look at the number of high-profile data breaches and hacks happening each year. Hundreds of millions of client accounts being compromised and this has a huge reputational risk for companies.

This is why cyber security is what is keeping CEOs of all companies up at night. Given that FinTech companies usually handle a good amount of money, they are even bigger targets. That makes cyber security professionals so in demand. And these courses will get you desk ready for a cyber security job on day 1.

Best Cyber Security Courses for Finance & FinTech (2020)


2.6. Breaking into AI and Machine Learning

AI and Machine Learning are super-hot topics right now. And the appeal is quite understandable – you are training computers to be smarter so that they can deliver better business insights and make your business more profitable. Perhaps the biggest attraction though is just how ubiquitous AI and machine learning is when it comes to the absolute bleeding edge of the FinTech revolution.

You can move into any field form modelling to trading to payments to cyber security to data science and you will find AI and machine learning everywhere. It is a very worthwhile skill to have and also a rather versatile one.

Best AI & ML Courses for Banking & Finance (2020)


2.7. Making Data work for you

All the data analysis and number crunching is for naught if you can’t convince others to take action on it. That is where Data Visualization comes in. It is a mix between hard skills and data driven creative story telling. What you are essentially doing is creating compelling visuals that spur your audience into action.

As you can imagine, this is a skill very much in demand. For example, when we make pitch books for investment banking deals, the ultimate goal is to convince the audience that the deal is good for them and how you present the data can make all the difference. Similarly, anyone investing in an ETF would like to visually see what they can expect from that investment.

Best Data Visualization Courses (2020) ranked by Bankers


2.8. Learning Mobile App Development

Over 200 billion mobile app downloads happen each year. The majority of eCommerce and banking now happens on mobile and it is only growing  each year. Consumers are glued to their mobile phones so that is where corporations are tuning their focus. Every year, millions of new apps are released and enhancements happen to existing apps making them better, faster, safer, more capable and more visually appealing.

To do this though, you need an army of mobile developers with the skills to turn ideas into reality. There are plenty of app developers out there but there is a shortage of quality developers – those with the skill, experience and innovation to make great apps that can break through the clutter.

Best Android Development Courses for Banking & FinTech (2020)


2.9. The Best FinTech Books

While online Courses are nice, some people do prefer a good book. Additionally, books provide a more general feel of a topic rather than being laser focused on teaching a core skill. That is important if you want to build a broader understanding of the field and all its opportunities and challenges.

This is a list of the best books on FinTech that all deserve a place on your shelf.

Best FinTech Books ranked by Bankers (2020)

About the Author

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav started his career as a Corporate and Investment Banking intern at Citi in 2009 and eventually ended up as an Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank’s Wholesale Banking division a few years later. By 2016, Gaurav was consulting FinTech start-ups in London with product development in the institutional banking space. He also advises mid-market Private Equity/ Asset Management firms and Banks in North America and Europe with investments in the financial services and FinTech sector. Gaurav writes on topics ranging from European Union banking regulations and FinTech to Blockchain startups and the inevitable rise of our AI overlords! He has an Engineering degree in Computer Science and an MBA with a double major in Finance and Marketing. He is also a Certified Financial Risk Manager.