group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Is diversity the key to unlocking the potential of fintech and web3?

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Work in Fintech is diverse by design, led by a male British born half-Chinese half-Irish fintech entrepreneur, a female former head of digital products at a leading investment bank who is a US national but born in China and a 12-year-old British Asian boy who is a NFT and crypto millionaire.

What do these three people have in common? They all share a love for fintech, a passion for education and they are all on a mission to give back. This tribe of like-minded people is actively helping the next generation build companies and careers in fintech and web3.

Initially, Work in Fintech was set up as a mentoring project in late 2019 by fintech entrepreneur and ipushpull CEO, Matthew Cheung, to help students from his old high school navigate the challenges of entering the workforce. However, things changed rapidly with the global pandemic which caused huge disruption within the school system. One thing in particular was conspicuous by its absence – work experience. Unfortunately, for 15- and 16-year-old students, work experience had completely disappeared as nearly every single company was grappling with their own challenges in 2020-2021.

For Matthew, the work experience he had when he was 15 directly led him to his first job in the City – which was a life changing event for him. As businesses were not offering this, he decided to take matters into his own hands and created a 6-week work experience programme for a group of teenagers from different races and backgrounds. This was a runaway success. The students gained real life experience with firms such as Revolut, TP ICAP and Goldman Sachs and even met the Lord Mayor of London while learning about fintech, financial markets and growing their own network.

Through a podcast series that first aired in February 2021 called ‘Interviews with Leaders in Fintech’, Matthew met Ying Cao and Benyamin Ahmed.

At the time, Ying had just left her role as Head of Digital Products at Barclays investment bank to set up an executive coaching platform called Liyt. Matthew and Ying quickly bonded over a shared passion for mentoring and giving back to future generations. Soon after, they met 12-year-old Benyamin Ahmed, who had gained notoriety by becoming the youngest person in the world to make a million dollars in crypto by creating NFT digital art collections. Although he has enough wealth to secure a comfortable future, Benyamin is keen to share his knowledge with other young people so that they can emulate his success.

With this impactful group of people, Work in Fintech is in full swing, providing mentoring, career advice,  and work experience to students, as well as helping graduates and young people find jobs in fintech and web3.

Diversity in every dimension is important to this founding team, who have strived to ensure a balance of race, gender, age, origin and socio-economic status in order to break through the poor track record finance generally has around the world. Both Matthew and Ying have spent their careers in finance, Matthew in the City and Ying in Wall Street. The lack of diversity in these global financial centres is stark. However, the great thing with fintech and web3 is that age, gender, ethnicity and any other differences are not barriers. It’s one of the most meritocratic industries where skills, ideas, passion and experience trumps everything else.

A fresher outlook, mindset and perspective of many fintech founders who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s means diversity and inclusion is crucially important. However, fintech and web3 firms that are rapidly growing are recruiting talent globally and – unfortunately – the majority of recruits is still white and male. This fact is not lost on fintech founders who want a diverse pool of candidates. This is something that Work in Fintech is solving for.

It’s actually a two-way street, fintech’s can’t find talent, especially those coming from DEI backgrounds, and young people are not aware of the great opportunities in the fintech and web3 space. Traditional finance has been recruiting graduates for decades and many students just aren’t aware of the job roles or the companies in fintech and web3 looking for talent, so they naturally gravitate towards banks and traditional finance.

To help increase the visibility of fintech, Work in Fintech works with corporates such as Adaptive Financial Consulting and Blockchain.com who are not only leaders in their field but have identified the shortage of talent from DEI pools as something they want to rebalance with investment and commitment. For students, Work in Fintech creates learning, networking and working experience to give them their first taste of fintech and web3. Ultimately, Work in Fintech will help students find internships and jobs at the innovative fintech firms that are part of the Work in Fintech community.

Uniquely, Work in Fintech is funding these programmes through NFTs. Benyamin has worked with a Black Brazilian artist, Massai, to create a NFT collection that will be sold to fintech’s and corporates. Each NFT holder unlocks access to a vibrant growing community of young people. The proceeds of the NFT collection will be used – and tracked on-chain – to help fund learning and work experiences for students from all backgrounds with a specific focus on helping students from DEI backgrounds.

Diversity is important in all industries as it helps provide opportunities for all. It improves decision making and it’s the right thing to do both socially and morally. It won’t be solved overnight but Work in Fintech is creating the on-ramps today that will unlock the massive opportunity in fintech and web3.