Summary

My FinTech Story…

I pivoted to a FinTech 7 years ago. After 9 months on the job, I was fired.

Why would I tell you this story if I’m a big proponent of finance professionals moving to FinTech?

Because my move was to the wrong FinTech! Had I taken a more strategic approach to job search, I could have avoided a disaster.

My Ugly Back Story

After 15 years in investment banking, I left Credit Suisse during the crash of 2007. Too bad. I loved the bank.

Well, I actually left after getting laid off. Since they took away my badge to enter 11 Madison Avenue, I figured I would move on and avoid getting arrested.

After struggling to find a job, I took a finance position in the solar industry with a small 50-person start-up. A base of $180k plus bonus and upside equity incentives was a fair package at that time.

Then the Culture War Started

I quickly realized that a flat organization and my need to take on additional responsibilities never discussed in the interview process were big problems.

I was used to a predictable process. When I prepared a presentation, I expected it to be read. In this company, the pieces were moving so quickly that I needed to throw out my just-finished but now outdated presentation. After one week, it was outdated!

I thrived in a face-paced environment, but one with more defined guidelines and a stable business plan. “Innovate, break it, innovate again” is a great strategy for those nimbler and more flexible.

Also, it seemed I spent a lot of time putting together slides for the board. I didn’t think this was a productive use of my time since I was hired to help grow the business. I never prepared board slides at Merrill Lynch or Credit Suisse.

The friction with my boss was clear from day 1. He was 15 years my junior, a problem for my ego. My boss also had so many additional reports that I felt my facetime with him and hence my education was lacking.

There is nothing wrong with the company I joined. In fact, they just went public! I have good friends who have been there for 5+ years and are now much richer than I.

Learn From My Mistake

Had I joined a young company that had raised a series D or later round, one with more defined roles and business model, I would have thrived.

In my 4-part article a few weeks ago, “Making the Move from Wall Street to FinTech,” I talked about how important it is to understand your value proposition for the right company.

In that article, I discussed a 4-part plan:

  • Understanding which of the FinTech sectors you belong
  • Creating a target company list based upon hard research
  • Determining which exact roles you would enjoy
  • Understanding compensation models

More reflection and education would have been invaluable to me.

And now you can do a better job picking the best company for your next move!

Bottom Line

When you put together a strategic career and job search plan, you can avoid my errors.

 

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