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Building a FinTech marketing team in a post start-up environment

29/04/2015

With the exponential growth of the FinTech sector in London showing no signs of slowing, the sector is high on the radar of marketers, businesses, and even politicians, with George Osborne and peers making FinTech enablement high on their political agenda . Furthermore, London’s unique blend of macro-geographical location, financial services expertise, and rich talent pool of tech-savvy professionals make it the ideal breeding ground for FinTech businesses to develop and launch their propositions.

However, the FinTech world is tough! Let’s not forget, the ambition of many FinTech businesses is to take a disruptive stance and capture market share from well established players, which is no mean feat. Moreover, as the sector matures and businesses grow from start-up to SME size, competition increases, challenges arise in articulating the value proposition of the product or service, and navigating the ever-complex web of financial regulation becomes a high profile process.

How are these problems confronted? The answer isn’t complicated; having a well-structured, highly skilled, and process savvy marketing team is at the heart of driving growth for your business.

The difficulty, however, comes in the transition from an agile, fast-growing start-up with limited resources, to a corporate SME that is able to punch well above its weight to capture market share from the big players. For a growing marketing team, recruitment policy transformation is the crucial factor in creating the necessary step-change.

Typical hiring trends in start-ups tend to focus more on the personality, character, and entrepreneurial endeavour of candidates, with an adequate level of attention paid to individual skills. The suggestion here is instead to shift the focus to sector knowledge, corporate experience, and a high level of attention to skill.

Considering candidates with a detailed knowledge of Financial Services, Banking, Payments, Money Transfer, or Ecommerce, for example, will bring valuable expertise to the business, and add crucial value regarding any partnerships experience. Those with blue chip, corporate backgrounds will be able to use their experience to design and implement best-in-class processes, have demonstrable experience of delivering results, as well as bringing vision and strategy on a wider business level. Furthermore, with bodies such as the Payments Systems Regulator set to become fully operational in April 2015, experience in navigating regulatory bodies will be essential. Lastly, and most obviously, a candidate’s technical ability should be of paramount importance, with little room for compromise – they need to be seen as leaders in their field, be able to do the job better than a consultant or agency could and train others in order to up-skill the rest of the department.  

There is also a question of physical structure in developing a marketing team. Some choose to separate marketing, digital and communications teams, others combine elements in a mix and match fashion. The answer to this issue depends on an array of factors that this article cannot fully explore, however carefully examining the short, medium and long term projected structure is a process every business leader should approach with eagerness.

Getting the transition wrong is potentially disastrous, particularly with many FinTech businesses setting their sights on an IPO. There are examples of businesses who are currently tearing out their existing structures, and starting almost from scratch, with a view to pleasing potential investors as they plan to IPO in the next 12 months. The huge change in a short amount of time and expenditure of redundancy pay outs, however, certainly does not go unnoticed with potential investors.

Correctly structuring a growing marketing team in any sector is important. However, the unique blend of circumstances for FinTech businesses in London make this a critical issue. Transitioning your marketing department from a start up, to an SME and beyond, should be a carefully planned process and one which should see a simultaneous change in recruitment policy.

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