I am a business development director for Vertex – a global organisation which operates in the rapidly growing sector of tax technology. The company focuses entirely on indirect tax; we’re unique in that we specialise in one area of tax, as opposed to working across all the different tax types.

Before joining the company, I was a tax consultant for over 15 years, working with lots of technology platforms to support brands such as Shell, Paramount, and Viacom. I had a huge understanding of the market and knew the major players in the tax technology sector, but I wasn’t doing anything new. I joined Vertex in February 2021 as I was excited about what they were doing in the SAP space.

Currently, I support sales efforts in EMEA working with the ‘big four’ as well as small boutique technology companies such as Innovate Tax, Ryan and DMA. I support the sales cycle by helping to identify what a customer needs and what is happening within their business which requires tax technology; this is usually because they are embarking on their financial transformation journey and/or moving to a Cloud ERP.

It’s a fun and varied role because the challenges organisations are facing today are very different. Some businesses are pivoting due to industry and economic changes whereas others are just needing to improve tax processes to improve audit performance or to keep up with changing tax authority requirements. My favourite part of the role will always be seeing a happy customer at the end who has been able to meet their organisational goals.

How did you get into the FinTech space?

After graduating with a master’s degree in tax, I worked at KPMG in tax provisions and controls with the banking industry. I was then recruited by tax software provider Sabrix – a start-up in 2002 which really fit my personality. As you can imagine, being in a start-up is extremely dynamic as you get to wear lots of different hats. My journey there began in tax research and content and then I moved in to product development as the product manager for VAT and Excise solutions, as well as working on a custom development with SAP.

I left in 2007 and started consulting, moving from California to London to join a global rollout of SAP for Shell. It was the largest SAP program at the time. Being a consultant provided me with the opportunity to work with lots of different products in a wide variety of industries and gain global exposure.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re dealing with currently in your career?

For me, it’s staying focused as there are so many shiny new objects and opportunities out there, from changes in the law through to the unique ways that the business environment is evolving and putting a larger burden on tech solutions. While it’s fascinating to see this pace of change it can be a little overwhelming.

There is a lot to do, a lot of opportunity in this space and quite frankly a lot of new technology companies popping up. I am proud to work at Vertex, who has been in the indirect tax technology space for 40 years – they are pushing hard to remain in front and stay relevant in the face of this changing landscape.

Where do you find support in the FinTech world?

It’s about the people that you know to a certain extent.

As a consultant, I was lucky enough to meet many different people and work with a wide range of software and consulting companies. I like connecting with others to offer my support and in turn, those people will do the same for me; whether it’s helping a colleague at one of the ‘big four’ find a new director or helping a boutique consulting firm find a new project.

If you are open to it and work to maintain contacts and relationships, the FinTech world will support you. In tax technology, it’s pretty close knit, which is fantastic if you act with integrity, welcome opportunity, and continually improve the breadth and depth of your knowledge. When you give a bit of yourself, it’s amazing what you get in return.

What advice would you give other women who want to work in FinTech?

Get connected.

I would love to pretend that it isn’t more difficult to be a woman in this space but if I am honest, it’s still a man’s world to a certain extent. Connecting with other women working in FinTech or in the tech industry via platforms such as LinkedIn or trade shows can help you build a support network. ‘Spotlight for woman in business’ on LinkedIn or the UK organisation ‘Woman in tech’ are some examples of the groups available to join. My advice would be to find women who are similar to you in terms of career and aspirations and lean on each other.

Stay current.

Technology is constantly changing.  I am not suggesting that you need to be an expert in emerging technologies such as edge computing, AI or blockchain to be in the FinTech space but awareness and how it impacts an organisation is important.

Seek and be positive change.

No matter if it’s in your contact group or within your organisation, always push for constant improvement and be ready for what’s coming next. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and acknowledge what you don’t know; after all, these are great leadership qualities to have.

As for personal change, if you are unsure of the direction your career is taking, consider a careers coach. This can not only help you consider changes within your career but also to handle challenges that are happening within the company. Working with someone who is external and impartial can help you gain fresh insights and equip you with new tools to navigate your career.

About the author

Wendy Fischnaller is business development director at Vertex – a tax technology provider. She has carved a successful career within the fintech space after graduating with a masters degree in tax.