Today I am delighted to welcome Alex Langridge Director of The Up Group on the show to talk about the very hot topic of whether Fintechs can grow up without, as it were, turning into their parents.
Less metaphorically what will mean that Alternative Finance remains alternative and doesn’t just end up like a Moorish house, inward looking into its own courtyard. Will they become like banks with levels and levels of internal committees, office politics and a lack of focus?
There are two key factors here.
Firstly the firm has to decide what its culture is. Which parts of that were just startup land? For many client or business facing AltFis suits are de rigour and t-shorts were startup. Which parts do they want to keep.
Secondly who do you recruit? It’s a good gossip topic over drinks for insiders on the London Fintech scene to discuss the obvious “don’t fits” – the imported investment bankers oozing arrogance and entitlement – sticking out like a sore thumb. Quite in contrast to real Fintechs who, having grown from nowhere know that they have been lucky to survive a perilous path that most of their compatriots have fallen off. And there but for the grace of God they could too have fallen.
It’s at this Nexus that the role of “a professional search firm” – aka head-hunters is key.
The Up Group was formed in 2007 with a vision to become the primary destination for digital talent. They must be doing well given the number of gigs they have worked on in Alternative Finance for some of the leading players.
It’s a pleasure to be joined by Alex who has placed some key hires into Fintechland and thus faces these challenges every day.
Plenty is discussed on the show including: – Alex’s insights into Anglo=Chinese relations and thinking
– the whole Fintech hype cycle
– Alex’s journey and early interest in Fintech post-’08 crisis as well as experience of incumbents
– the Fintech recruitment journey starting from recruiting mates to eventually moving on to professional search firms
– the need to define your culture in the first place – making what is implicit explicit – in order to preserve it
– at a certain size culture breaks down into sub-cultures within the firm
– the need to have folks who are trained in interviewing
– the whole concept of a Chief People Officer and how that differs from “HR” and the influence of “the Valley” in this context
– moving on from CEO meaning “Chief Everything Officer” to more professionalised organomgrammed structures
– the language of an organogram ends up (or starts?) by adopting wholesale banking organogram terms and how this language/thinking leads them in a certain direction; how challenger banks have turned into mini-versions of the incumbents very quickly
– as an example of the above in Fintechs a CRO has already become (as in Finance) someone focusing on one small area of the business (eg loan quality) rather than the original CRO concept being someone who looked after all risks from all directions – ie a top-down perspective which gets lost by copying the over-micro-regulated-banking sector’s thinking
– recruiting from Tech vs Fin or Fintech
– – how the essential polarity in Chinese thought between Confucian (~ordered) and Taoist (~natural) relates to the growth curve of Fintechs; form and emptiness in structure; rigidity and flow
– search consultants role in training the client in how to conduct the whole process; “five-legged purple unicorn” job descriptions; how to conduct a professional recruitment process
– the differentiation of being professional in recruitment
– remuneration in Fintech; “if you have a C-grade budget don’t expect an A-grade player”
– the different motivations of folks who join Fintechs at various stages in its growth curve
– “lateral talent” as the main talent pool for Fintechs
– where The Up Group is going; helping both #oldFS and #newFS
– what kind of mandates and potential candidates are of interest to The Up Group
And much much more!