While Wildfire has worked with clients in the sector for a number of years, a recent proactive business development drive means I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some fantastic fintech companies over the last week or two. The meetings have been enjoyable and informative, the people warm and friendly. Financial technology, in one form or another, has existed forever — but with a whole host of new fintech start-ups on the rise, the industry feels like it has been given a new lease of life or almost like it’s still in its infancy. As such, the possibilities appear to be endless.
Although a lot of start-ups are looking to ‘disrupt’ the traditional financial sectors by offering alternative solutions that would see legacy companies and solutions replaced, there are at least as many looking to sell into the established brands to improve current systems and make financial services better for everyone.
I’ve heard first hand this week that while established financial organisations — particularly banks — are under more pressure than ever to cut costs. But their challenges don’t stop there with many also having very high staff turnover. Therefore, even if a start-up does have cost-cutting, efficiency-inducing, bloody-brilliant-API-plugin software, it can be difficult for them to engage with these organisations.
For a start, finding, contacting and getting traction with the right person or department is often a challenge in itself. On top of that, the lengthy qualification, sales and legal review process that any supplier has to endure to engage with financial brands often means that their contact leaves before the discussion really gets started.
And just when you think you’ve figured out the pinch points (indeed cost-cutting is very likely on every financial services C-level agenda) this isn’t always what they are most bothered about after all. I’ve learned that often, what really matters to them is customer satisfaction — meaning any product or service that can demonstrate a positive influence is likely to get much more air time at senior level.
When selling direct, the best any of us can do therefore is cast the net as wide as possible. Communicate to all levels of the business at every opportunity. Use a range of channels and a range of messaging. While social media platforms are about as much use as an inflatable dartboard to gain influence in some industries, financial technologists appear to favour these sources for networking and information gathering — so LinkedIn and Twitter are a must.
Where direct sales is too challenging, I’ve witnessed start-ups white labelling their solution to sell to bigger partners who can access the (even bigger!) brands more easily. Similarly, small companies using open-source community-based software trading environments seems to be a successful way of showcasing a solution to those that may benefit from it most.
This week’s conversations have been of robo-advisors, EBAday, MiFID II, Basel II, Sibos 2016, peer-to-peer payments and The Association of Corporate Treasurers. Goodness knows what I’ll discover next week, but I’m looking forward to it. Fintech rocks!