FinTech or Bank - Which will suit you better?

By Randstad Posted 2yr(s) ago Reading Time: About 5 minutes


Global investments have grown from US$3.1 million in 2014 to US$1.8 billion just in the first quarter of 2017. In Singapore, fintech investments have doubled to reach US$365m in a year, positioning it as one of the top five fintech markets (by amount of funds raised) in Asia Pacific, as revealed in an Accenture study. 

Randstad Singapore’s 2019 Market Outlook highlighted that fintech companies are hungry for talent and actively hiring from both finance and technology industries. Finance professionals are drawn to the heavily-funded and dynamic fintech environment, whereas technology talent are attracted to the progressive culture that promotes learning and healthy competition.

It is pivotal that candidates are aware of the differences in the career paths in traditional banks and fintech firms. Although both organisations offer similar types of products and services to consumers and businesses, the career trajectory within these companies is vastly different.

Fintech or Bank - Consider which environment you are able to thrive in.

Fintech firms typically have a flat organisational structure, which means employees with different years of experience and specialisations are often actively involved in the company’s strategy development and decision-making process. This is a stark contrast to the structural organisation format seen in large financial institutions. Furthermore, flat structures give ambitious employees from any function and seniority the opportunity to contribute new ideas that have the potential to make an impact, thus improving the workforce’s creativity and engagement.

Fintech companies also often offer agile working, since a majority of the work is highly digitised. Workers can choose to work from anywhere at any time, as long as they have access to a mobile phone or laptop. Even though some of the large banks offer flexible work arrangements to their staff, most of them are still conservative in this aspect due to mandatory data security and compliance reasons. 

Traditional banks have also been ramping up their digitalisation efforts, investing in cloud infrastructure and big data to power robotics process automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Banks with international reach are able to provide their people with greater overseas or project exposure to expand their knowledge and deepen their capabilities. 

Driven by a strong innovative culture, the fintech sector is an incredibly vibrant space, filled with exciting opportunities to develop unique solutions that have the potential to significantly enhance consumer experience. While both traditional banks and fintech businesses pay attention to the end-user experience, banks tend to be more focussed on improving functionalities, whereas fintech companies will try to challenge the norms by creating new and differentiated services for customers who are looking for a variety of options.

Do you have what it takes?

Before joining the fintech scene, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are my priorities in life?
  2. Do I have the right skills to enter the industry? If I don’t, what should I do?
  3. What are some of the traits that I need for a career in bank or fintech?

While fintech firms provide fairly competitive compensation packages to attract qualified professionals, banks have always had attractive compensation schemes in place, which include big bonuses and benefits that fintech firms have yet to match up to. 

Because of how fast the industry is growing, most fintech firms offer their employees a great deal of responsibility and autonomy, and are more inclined to reward high-performers through rapid career progression, regardless of age and experience. Whereas in traditional banks, legacy generally dictates a strict adherence to hierarchy, with the promise of a stable career path as long as the employee meets or exceeds work expectations.

Technical proficiency is now seen as a requirement for a majority of jobs in banks and fintech. People looking to join the fintech industry should position themselves as tech-savvy and innovative in problem-solving. Candidates familiar with programming languages such as Python and R, with experience applying these skills in data analytics, will stand out more. 

Apart from these critical technical skills, traits such as creativity, adaptability and open-mindedness are highly desirable to fintech employers. Candidates with these essential qualities will be able to thrive in the dynamic environment that fintech has to offer.

What to do once you’ve decided.

Job seekers can refer to SkillsFuture, MyCareersFuture and industry websites for workforce insights as well as career advice, to better understand how they can upskill themselves and increase their employability. 

Reaching out to people from the fintech community via social networks will also allow job seekers to gain a first-hand look into the roles and responsibilities that are expected of them. It should also be noted that offline interactions are equally important, and we encourage people to connect with their peers and other experts at conferences, forums and other networking events.

Regardless of fintech’s exciting appeal or the financially-stable careers offered by banks, both industries are equally interesting and provide adequate resources for candidates to achieve their desired career goals. 

Before making a decision, it is important that you identify your goals and priorities in life, to understand which industry you can better thrive in.