Why working in a FinTech start-up is not all fun and games, but pretty awesome for the right talents
- A commentary by René Pomassl, Co-Founder and CEO at SALAMANTEX
When thinking about start-up life, we imagine friends working together in home- or campus-like work environments with foosball tables and beanbags. The media has coined this image with movies like ‘The Internship’, in which Owen Wilson scooters as noogler from meeting to meeting, enjoys free snacks, and has to get used to colleagues taking power naps in sleeping pods between meetings. The movie, however, also depicts some of the not so nice aspects of working in a tech company. Everyone is super competitive and under pressure to actively contribute to the company’s success and innovations. Openings are extremely rare so that even top talents must fight to score one of the entrance roles. In the start-up world seniority doesn’t come with age, as we can witness in ‘The Intern’, in which Robert de Niro plays a senior staff member who has to get used to working for a boss who is half his age, played by Anne Hathaway.
Let’s examine this Hollywood-ized picture and determine the real characteristics of working in a tech start-up. Most of the typical start-up attributes can be interpreted as pros and cons, depending on the viewer’s personality:
- Culture of innovation: The concept of innovation is fully embedded in the company philosophy.
+ A dream come true for creative people — thinking outside the box is standard procedure.
- Some people struggle with the high pressure to come up with fresh ideas and not stick to a comfortable routine.
- Flexible working: From flexible work hours to work locations over to unlimited leave allowances. In this output-based approach, staff are measured by their performance and KPIs instead of the time invested.
+ Having the flexibility to work where and when you want depending on your own preferences, can be a major contributor to a good work-life-balance.
- Latest with the Covid pandemic, many realized that working from home is not as easy as imagined. The boundaries between work and private life blurr, so that many end up working more than the office 9-to-5. Some missed the office environment as it is set up for productivity and collegial cooperation. Others ended up missing their commute as this was the set ‘me-time’ in their overloaded days.
- Rapid career progression: In start-ups everyone tackles tasks as they arise and it’s normal to wear multiple hats. It’s a total hands-on approach in which motivation and confidence can be more important than actual experience in the field.
+ Filling multiple roles also means gaining the work experience and knowledge of several domains at once. This acts as a fast track for one’s personal growth. High-achievers are likely to jump a couple of steps on the career ladder.
- One’s ideal growth environment is another’s absolute nightmare. More than just suffering from impostor syndrome, having to juggle multiple responsibilities can lead to added frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
- Malleability: With start-ups still being in their development stage, many things don’t follow rigid processes but are approached as they come. Some might call this chaotic while others love the idea of having their say in how things should work.
+ Everything is up for optimization, and everyone can play an active role in shaping processes, policies and departmental structures.
- Not having processes in place means there is no structure for how things should be done, which ultimately leads to frustrations. It is a tedious and time-consuming exercise to implement new processes.
These common traits of the industry split job hunters into two groups, those who think this sounds like an amazing work opportunity and those who are deterred by this forecast. What is more, both the pandemic and the unstable political and economical situations have generated a lot of anxiety, especially in the younger generations. With this increase of uncertainty, a shift in priorities was witnessed. Even those that loved the idea of ultimate flexibility and fast career growth, now fear the aspect of job insecurity. A recent survey by job platform Monster in the US showed that people value job security over pay increase, with 40% choosing job security, while only 15% answered in favor of a higher pay, given the choice between these two options.
Many people automatically connect a job in a start-up with low job security. Is a job in the start-up world indeed less secure than in a big corporation? “With the recent wide-spread job cuts in Wall Street banks, the answer is not quite so clear cut. […] In 2015, Wall Street banks cut more than 20,000 jobs.” That being said, start-ups are more susceptible to sudden shut-down by nature. The top three reasons for failed start-up ventures are ‘no market need’ with 42%, ‘ran out of cash’ with 29% and ‘not the right team’ with 23%, as an analysis by CB Insights found.
Now that we have defined that start-ups are the ideal place to work for some, while others rightly shy away, let’s take a closer look at the FinTech industry specifically. “FinTech has proven to be highly transformational for the financial industry”. In an ever-evolving global industry, job opportunities seem never-ending and should be a great fit especially for entrance level candidates, who are hungry to learn and grow but value flexibility above all. Millenials and Gen Z will soon be the dominating force in the office (well home office or wherever they may work from). With younger generations often being accused of being unsatisfiable job-hoppers, start-ups should be the ideal environment to try on different hats and find one’s true passion. René Pomassl, CEO at SALAMANTEX, sees it this way: “At a start-up, we need talented self-starters, that are passionate about what they are doing and aren’t scared to tackle tasks as they come. We are all giving our best to build something revolutionary together. We pride ourselves in being highly inclusive, celebrating different genders, ages and cultural or work backgrounds.”