Fintech

It’s a hugely exciting time to be working in Fintech.

Like most sectors, digital innovation is at the top of the agenda in financial services, with many organisations looking for ways to improve and transform their offerings in a disruptive market. Interestingly, traditional banks and financial services providers have been slow to integrate new technology and have struggled to adapt their long-established cultures and ways of working to be more agile and innovative. With this backdrop in mind, Fintech has come to the fore, introducing new ideas and markets, as well as creating new opportunities for women in tech.

Opportunities in Fintech

Whether you’re part of a start-up or a more established company like incuto, the benefits of working in Fintech are numerous. Chances are you’ll be working within an exciting, energetic, fast-paced and fast-growth environment, as part of an organisation where technology is driving the solution on offer, rather than simply supporting a wider operation. Fintechs can offer significant opportunities to progress, gain responsibility and really take ownership of particular projects and initiatives. It’s also likely you’ll be closer to customers than you would be in a larger organisation.

It does, of course, pay to have experience behind you if you’re aiming for a leadership role. My own career trajectory started with a degree in Computer Science, closely followed by my first role as a developer for a start-up based in San Francisco. I went on to take up a new role in Dublin, working on c++ and java PKI toolkit for a start-up which went on to float on both the FTSE and NASDAQ – a great learning experience for me of going through accelerated growth.

From there, I became testing and deployment lead for an NHS SPINE project in Leeds. This move to a large organisation running one of the biggest projects in Europe provided me with experience of working on a large, complicated and multi-faceted system. Taking on the CTO role at incuto has allowed me to effectively use my skills and experiences to lead a team and create a strategy to support growth.

There are, however, numerous other routes and opportunities for women with an ambition to work in Fintech. At incuto, we encourage applications from a wide range of candidates for our development team, from school leavers through to experienced developers with 30 or more years’ of experience. In addition, we regularly take work experience students from our local schools to encourage young people to consider a career in IT. We’re also proud to be one of the growing number of Fintechs based outside of London, so opportunities for candidates outside the capital are on the up.

Fintech for credit unions

Our own technology serves credit unions, community banks and CDFIs (community development finance institutions). It enables these institutions to better serve their communities and, perhaps most importantly, take on the poverty premium paid by a large portion of the UK population when it comes to loans and banking services.

14 million people in the UK pay more for goods and services simply because they are from poorer households, and many of these end up turning to unscrupulous payday lenders for support. It is well publicised by organisations like the End High Cost Credit Alliance and Debt Hacker, that these types of loans and the continued financial burden they put on individuals and families can cause ongoing hardship for years to come.

The key to tackling the poverty premium in financial services must lie with those organisations who can offer fairer, more ethical approaches to banking and lending. Credit unions are perfectly placed to take on this role. However, there continue to be a number of significant stumbling blocks for these organisations to reaching the individuals they seek to serve.

For example, credit unions often offer their members limited branch networks (some have no more than two branches servicing a given geographical area), plus they are struggling with legacy technology and paper-based systems which make their service extremely slow and inaccessible. Traditionally members have had to physically go into a branch to either withdraw or pay in money using only their membership number.

Our technology is designed to open up the services credit unions can offer and give access to a wider audience through technology. incuto has also introduced better branch access via partnerships with wider networks, plus a debit card (rather than simply a Membership number) allowing the financially excluded to access additionally services at the same price as the wider population, plus better online access and automation.

Innovative technology for financial inclusion

Like all organisations, credit unions must innovate and transform the service they offer Members. And it’s not just about enabling people to apply online in a faster and more efficient way, it’s about financial freedom and access to services and the same level of interaction and engagement that they would receive from a high-street or online bank.

It’s very rewarding to be part of a Fintech which is genuinely trying to help tackle the poverty premium and lift individuals out of poverty through fairer banking and financial education. Tech for social good offers a fantastic opportunity for women in tech, whether they are starting out or have experience to offer, and the need for this technology has never been more important.

Jen AndersonAbout the author

Jen Anderson, CTO, incuto.

Jen gained experience delivering projects in both tech start – ups and major change programmes in NHS. Recognised in top 100 CTOs in 2019, Jen is gaining prominence as a strong voice in the Tech for Good ecosystem.