This is a blog post co-written by two of our newest team members, Chris and Cody. Both with more corporate backgrounds, both now part of the Dwolla Sales team and navigating the startup world. As many who have transitioned to new positions know, there are adjustments—especially when transitioning to fintech. (Also, we’re hiring!)
Rather than tell the story of how we somehow found ourselves working in a culture filled with open office plans and ping pong balls, we decided to take a different spin on it. In the next few paragraphs, we’ll walk you through the biggest surprises found working at a fintech company as explained by letters, F-I-N-T-E-C-H.
Think of this as your ABC’s of jumping in feet first to a world of APIs and compliance terms that you’ve never had to understand before. Here goes nothing…
F is for flexibility
We’re not talking about Yoga here—your daily workflow and schedule will change at a moment’s notice. We’ve learned that you need a willingness to go with the flow and adapt to needs of both internal and external customers, everyone’s on the same team afterall. As part of the business development team, our objective is to help customers understand their needs and offer clearly outlined, tailored solutions. Since every customer has a unique use-case and is in different industries, it’s imperative that we’re flexible in creating a dynamic payments solution specific to its objectives. It’s no longer one size fits all. But the good news is, we only had to learn a simple set of APIs.
I is for independence
From our perspective, the level of independence you have at a fintech startup really stands out. There is a well thought out onboarding strategy put in place to acclimate you to the office, but in the startup world you need to be self-motivated to learn—no one is going to hand you a textbook of every process, because these processes are still taking shape. In an industry that is both fast-paced and demanding, there’s no time to wait around for step-by-step instructions. We’ve learned the value in asking questions of the right people, even if they’re not directly on your team.
N is for nomenclature
The acronyms and industry language can be daunting, especially for someone entering a fintech startup from a wholly different industry. Did you know that the USA PATRIOT ACT is actually an acronym? Google it. That will likely be the longest acronym that you come across, but be prepared to learn not only ones on the tech side like API or PHP, but also on the financial jargon of the business (e.g. KYC, AML, BSA, OFAC). They all matter.
T is (obviously) for technology
One of the reasons the fintech sector is booming is the potential value-add tech creates for businesses and banks. The “fintech” industry is broad, encompassing a wide range of ideas and use-cases, things from developing more efficient means of moving money to the automation of financial transactions that were once manual. The “tech” in fintech is profound, and hard to wrap your mind around until you get more integrated in the industry.
E is for environment
The startup culture is a huge benefit to working in fintech. We’ve all heard about it, from hoodies and casual office attire to foosball breaks and beer on tap; the culture is a sharp contrast to a corporate environment. There are tradeoffs to any office culture truthfully, but what really sets the tone are the people. The time spent with a team at a fintech company is unique—you’ll work hard and long hours, developers will get angry about problems we can’t begin to understand and things will change profoundly in a matter of days. But it all comes with a healthy dose of joy and passion, the kind of passion and excitement you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere. And there are bean bag chairs too.
C is for compliance
Before diving into fintech, we didn’t fully realize the amount of thought and care that goes into any company (much less one dealing with other’s money) to remain compliant. Be warned, you may not find the world of compliance as fascinating as our compliance officer does (and frankly, we’re very thankful for that team). However, it was still important for us to spend a ton of time getting familiar with regulatory and compliance requirements early on. We didn’t fully realize the training and detail that we would be asked to understand—we’re not working at a bank…right? Any fintech company is going to be heavily regulated and expected to protect its customers and monitor for fraudulent behavior. Understanding these complexities can be arduous, but we found it best practice to invest the time early on, learning what questions to ask and to get answered. After all, this knowledge base can be quite a value-add for our customers.
H is for here goes nothin’
The first few weeks have been be a blur, but in all the best ways. We’ve been surrounded by team members encouraging us to dig deeper and get uncomfortable. The challenges have been matched by the celebrations—a holiday party on the very first day. Venturing into the world of fintech hasn’t been a cakewalk, but it’s been inspiring to dive into a world that we all operate in every day, and understand the tech powering what we take for granted. Here goes nothin…