Human ResourcesTalent

Transitioning Marketing Skills from Financial Services to Fintech: A Perspective

FinTech success depends on skills beyond ‘Fin’ and ‘Tech’ as I shared in my previous post. Questions usually revolve around timing: ‘When should FinTech companies focus on acquiring these skills for their companies?’ As a reader rightly commented, growing a startup team too soon can negatively impact focus and cash flow.

But, Marketing competence is something a FinTech company needs early on. Though Marketing is usually – and narrowly – associated with communicating the value of product or solution, Marketing’s role is much more holistic.

Call me old-fashioned, but I subscribe to Peter Drucker’s view of Marketing: He’d said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself… The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous…..(Marketing) is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is from the customer’s point of view.”

So, marketing involves understanding your customers so well – especially their unmet needs and wants –  that it leads to creating a solution that adds value to your customers.

And, this is not just an academic concept. In my corporate career at Financial Services, I’ve seen this holistic view of ‘Marketing’ work wonders when applied well.

Demand for Marketing skills in FinTech

It is this ‘holistic’ concept of marketing that’s applied in the initial stages when the Fintech startup is ensuring ‘Product-Market’ fit or drawing up a ‘Business Model Canvas.’ Though performed initially by the hacker-hustler-designer team, marketing team roles take on different names as the startup grows.

Growth Hacker. Demand generation lead. Content Manager. Customer Success Manager. Product Marketing Manager. Marketing Manager/ Director. VP/ Head of Marketing. These are some of the roles prevalent in FinTech companies.

FinTech companies, as they grow, should not forget that ‘Marketing’ should be a part of everything they do (user input, design, build, pricing, operations, etc.) and not be soloed or confined to “promoting/ communicating” their solution. After all, if FinTech companies want growth, growth comes with customer focus, and holistic Marketing => Customer Centricity.

Supply pool of Marketing skills from FinServ industry

FinTech is a growing sector. And whether FinTech takes over traditional Financial Services (FinServ) or not, Technology will continue have bigger role in next generation FinServ companies. So, it is no surprise that FinServ Marketing professionals are looking to be a part of this FinTech/ new-age FinServ industry. Many are looking for marketing roles in these new-age FinTech/ FinServ companies.

These professionals usually have domain expertise, solid Marketing experience and a good grasp of customer needs (depending on their B2B or B2C experience). That’s the good news. Marketing roles in large Financial Institutions are often well-defined and marketing function is spread over a large group of people. Depending on the culture of the Financial Institution, the marketing teams could be siloed as well.

“How transferable are their skills to FinTech companies?” “How do these professionals stack up against Technology Marketing professionals who are also sought by FinTech companies?”

To answer these and other questions related to transitioning from FinServ Marketing to FinTech Marketing, I turned to a good friend, a colleague and a seasoned marketing professional, John Sommerfield.

Perspectives from someone who’s ‘been there and done that’

John Sommerfield has spent more than 25+ years in various marketing roles at Financial Services, Technology and Marketing startups (including his own) before transitioning to the FinTech sector. He is currently the VP, Corporate Marketing, at i2c Inc, a payment processing solution provider. You can find his background, his role at i2c and his journey to FinTech at the end of this post.

He shared his perspectives on some very pertinent questions related to such a transition.

Differences between FinTech marketing and FinServ marketing roles

  • How is a marketing role at a FinTech company different from a marketing role in traditional Financial Service company?
  • How does FinServ marketing professional get ready for this change in ‘environment’?

Reflecting on his experience, John shared that in a smaller FinTech company “you have to make your bed and sleep in it too,” and that “you are more exposed.” Listen to the segment below on what he means by that.

Relevance of Financial Services marketing experience in FinTech industry

  • Does ‘Technology marketing’ experience have an advantage over ‘Financial Services marketing’ when it comes to FinTech marketing?
  • How relevant is domain experience for FinTech marketing?
  • Since many FinTech companies focus on ‘products’, how transferrable are FinServ marketing skills in ‘Product Marketing’?

John has experience in both Technology industry and Financial Services industry. So, he was well positioned to comment on the relevance of FinServ experience in FinTech in the segment below:

Advice for FinServ marketing professionals looking to transition to FinTech

  • What should a FinServ marketing professional do if they are looking to transition?
  • How can one find good FinTech roles?

John suggested introspection and looking for one’s own ‘UVP’ when searching. Also listen to his practical tips when searching for FinTech marketing roles in the below segment:

Lastly, if you are interested in learning more about John’s background, his FinTech employer, his current role and his journey, here it is:

 

I hope these interviews will help FinTech founders/ leaders when they are deciding to hire. These perspectives may help them see that FinServ industry experience is equally, if not more, important than Tech industry experience when it comes to marketing hires.

I am also hoping that John’s thoughts will help and inspire FinServ Marketing professionals plan their transition to FinTech, if they are contemplating one.

Note: Apart from FinTech entrepreneur interviews, in the coming weeks, we plan to bring perspectives from functional professionals. Our next post will focus on Compliance (i.e. transitioning from FinServ to FinTech). If this topic interests you, feel free to subscribe to our mailing list.

(Author is the Founder and CEO of S2E Consulting, LLC)