Ex-bankers have been leaving financial services to pursue their ‘start-up’ ambitions in the fintech space for years. So much so that one of the biggest talent acquisition concerns of the banks is losing great people to fintech companies, that’s according to Irina Zilbergleyt, IE’s director of talent and careers.
We sat down with Michael Steengaard, Spotcap Australia and New Zealand’s Head of Client Services, with more than 15 years experience in multi-asset class advisory services, to find out what makes fintech so appealing to ex-bankers.
Why did you leave Macquarie Bank to pursue a career in fintech with Spotcap?
After a long stint with a large financial institution, I was ultimately looking for a change that would take me outside of my comfort zone. At the same time, I wanted to make use of the knowledge and experience I had gained over more than a decade in the financial industry.
With that mindset, fintech was the obvious choice. I could apply my knowledge and expertise on the ‘fin’ side and there was plenty to be learned on the ‘tech’ side. After taking some time to work on a financial project for a friend I sought out a position with Spotcap because of its global footprint, and its mission to solve a very real problem faced by the Australian and Kiwi small business community.
Quite a few members of Spotcap’s executive team have worked extensively in financial services. Niels Turfboer held senior posts with ABN Amro and ING, and Lachlan Heussler worked with Deutsche Bank, UBS and Citigroup. Spotcap’s Chief Financial Officer Christian Müller also made the move from Deutsche Bank to fintech late last year, as did a number of members of Spotcap’s credit and business development teams.
Like Michael, they left roles in more traditional financial services businesses to pursue a new challenge, their interest piqued by the growth potential of the fintech industry.
It’s not just ex-bankers who have found their place at Spotcap, experts from creative agencies, the startup scene, business consultancies and major technology players now call Spotcap home.
What has the move to fintech been like for you?
Challenging but rewarding. Working in a dynamic, nimble environment has been a welcome change from a much larger, slower moving organisation where technology constraints can often weaken the customer experience, and our experience as an employee.
Working in fintech provides far greater levels of individual engagement and involvement over the entire business, with real, tangible contributions to our success. It’s also opened me up to greater leadership opportunities. In my current role I manage Australia’ and New Zealand’s customer engagement team, supporting them and helping them to grow and develop as finance professionals. For new joiners with a genuine curiosity and a desire to contribute, leadership opportunities are bound to pop up in good time.
Earlier this year, Michael and his partner celebrated the arrival of their first child. As is the case for many new parents, finding the right balance can be a challenge but Michael makes it look easy.
Our new baby has changed our lives – of course for the better – but a change nonetheless. Sometimes I need to leave the office early, or to schedule a conference call between nappy changes – so flexibility (on both sides) is crucial. Having an employer who is open to flexible working arrangements has been a huge help.
Our recruiter Lillian Martin recently shared her thoughts on being a working mother, you can read about it here.
Was fintech the right choice for you?
Australia’s fintech scene is vibrant and growing rapidly. The lending space in particular is highly competitive, and with the government’s on-going commitment to turning fintech into one of our major industries interesting things are on the horizon. In a fintech there is opportunity to expose yourself to numerous aspects of business – from lobbying for regulatory change to category education and awareness raising – there are always new topics to explore.
Spotcap’s Australian team is on the lookout for like-minded people with a keen interest in fintech to join their growing team. Take a look at our open positions for more information.
Michael Steengaard, Head of Client Services, Australia & New Zealand
Michael has more than 15 years experience in multi-asset class advisory services, he joined Spotcap more than a year ago to get involved in the fintech boom.
Originally published October 23 2017 , updated April 26 2018