Who should be on the initial Fintech Startup team?

Editorial Team
Date: 05/07/2017
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Who should be on the initial Fintech Startup team?
The initial team of employees is the group of people that shapes the structure and perspective of the company. So who should you hire as your ‘first generation’ employees?

Many Fintech Startup owners have a clear vision of what technologies and products they wish to involve as part of their game plan, but initially lack the “team” that will realize that vision into reality.  In essence, the potential of your Fintech Startup – whether in terms of its growth rate or the lack thereof – is dependent on this group of people. So who do you truly need during the initial stage, considering that these “first generation” employees will play a significant role in developing your product from its very birth? Here are some people which you should waste no time to acquire as part of your team:

Product Development
For Fintech Startups or startups offering “financial products”, what will attract joint investors and users the most can be none other than product design and development. User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) design, programming, engineering, for example, are all key tasks that must be performed by people with specialized skills in order to ensure that your product is unique and user-friendly. An article on Banking UX Design Challenges and Opportunities in 2017 of @uxdesignagency provides an insight on the direction that banks should be heading in terms of their design strategies, which call for a customer-centric approach. What is most important is that, in Finance, UX design – regardless whether it incorporates the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) or predictive analytics – should satisfy the customers, respond to the personalized needs of each customer on a deeper level, and focus on mobile phone solutions above all other potential channels. These are concepts that should form the basis of the knowledge and understanding of your employees. Make sure that they share the vision on the adaptation to the rising Fintech era. Your designers should also demonstrate agile development capabilities, as they must be highly active, flexible, and adaptive. You should consider having a Product Manager or Chief Product Officer that would be in charge of overseeing the Product Development Team.

New startups are like newborn babies that have yet to be noticed or known by others. However, if you know you have something good on your hands, you must find a way to make sure that the world (or at least your target customers) is familiar with your product. Therefore, it is essential that your Marketing team understands your vision and mission and is able to come up with both offline and online marketing plans that conveys what you wish to offer, so that people understand and are interested in what you are trying to accomplish. Anna Kilmurray, Chief Marketing Officer of Clearsource, a new-wave credit card points information service provider and Fintech startup from London, UK, shared her view on Marketing with econsultancy.com. According to Ms. Kilmurray, “A good marketing expert should organize focus groups in order to analyze the usage psychology and behavior of the customers. Even better, he or she should have a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content marketing, and coding in order to be able to effective communicate with the team and to come up with new initiatives that are appropriate for the audience.

Accounting & Financial Operations
If your focus is on Fintechs that offer financial transactions services, but your Accounting and Financial Operations Team is not based on a strong foundation, this situation would be rather ironic. Your first priority should be to find the Vice President (VP) Finance & Chief Financial Officer (CFO), both of whom will establish strategies, analyze and determine budget estimates, as well as oversee the financial management of the organization. In fact, these two persons will also have to be bookkeepers and controllers who are responsible for the storage of documents and the regulation of salary payments. They must have excellent negotiation skills due to the fact that they have to negotiate with various partners and vendors as part of their duties. Currently, Peakengine and Flowaccount are two platforms used in Thailand as accounting solutions that make the process less complex.

An article on Techcrunch.com gives an insight on the role of the legal team based on information from numerous Startup General Counsels (GCs). It states that the work of the legal team differs from that of other teams in the organization, as their goal is not to develop a certain “product” as part of their daily routine. On the other hand, they work closely with others in planning strategies, analyze the organization’s exposure to various aspects of risk, and provide support in the management of those risks, all of which are essential to the determination of the corporate direction, especially in the early stage of its incorporation. Therefore, you should select someone that has a minimum of 4-10 years of experience and make sure that he or she has a sound understanding of your work or previous experience working with customers who are startups. Ideally, the general counsel should be able to advise the Chief of Operations on a full-time basis.

Don’t be restricted to solely finding potential candidates domestically, as variety within your team will allow for a wider range of nuances and ideas.  Andrew Chen, Head of Rider Growth of Uber, is a writer, advisor, investor, and Entrepreneur in Residence of Mohr Davidor Ventures based in Silicon Valley, opines that “The best solution is to find multi-tasking people who have a broad range of capabilities, but who excel in certain areas in particular, that is, individuals with t-shaped skills.  This is because startups involve fast-paced changes parallel with new problems despite limited resources. As such, those with multi-faceted skills are in higher demand.”
finnovate-blog-who-should-be-first-generation-employees-fintech Credit Image: Aja Frost

A team with strong hard skills alone is no longer enough. Your team’s soft skills should also be strong because your “first generation employees” are the ones that will share your journey through the initial rough tides. Sharing a good mindset and belief in the organization is thus not only crucial to its efficient development, but also contributes to the formulation of a good corporate culture in the long term. As the employer, be sure to recognize what type of mindset or method of work will promote a good corporate culture and know how to acquire human resources for creating innovations.
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