Insights on FinTech

By Michelle Yap

Discovery+ is a series of online industry panels which give students the chance to interact with working professionals and learn about the careers they aspire to enter. These panels provide youths and working professionals with the opportunity to better understand industry trends, hear first-hand perspectives from industry professionals, and gain valuable advice on entering or navigating these industries.

On 18 April 2023, Advisory hosted Discover+: FinTech, the 70th edition of the Discovery+ series. Speakers on the panel included:

  • Hassan Ahmed (Moderator), Country Director, Singapore, Coinbase
  • Brenda Shee, Director, Sales Development, Aspire
  • Sebastian Roervig, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Arrow
  • Varun Mittal, Group Head, Innovation and Ecosystem, Singlife 

Attendees included students at various levels of education with a desire to know the different career paths in FinTech, and how to best position themselves for such roles. Below are some key points shared during the session:

Examples of such trends include the rise of social commerce, the emerging need for embedded insurance, the diversification by traditional banks or incumbents into new digital solutions, and the development of new cutting edge e-payment methods, especially in Southeast Asia.

While relevant prior experience in related industries would be a plus, the following traits are highly desirable. First, resilience, which is essential to handle change as the fintech industry is fast-paced in nature. Second, commitment and evidence of such commitment, for instance by obtaining certifications or attending networking events. Third, the willingness to hustle or strive, for example by proactively engaging in independent lifelong learning beyond the books or beyond school.

Increasingly, there has been more innovation in the ESG (environmental, social and governance) area, for example through the tokenisation of carbon credits which has created a new marketplace. Furthermore, although many tend to focus on the “sustainability” element of ESG, the “governance” element of ESG is also equally important – many fintech companies have failed as a result of poor governance in various jurisdictions, and “sustainability” does not refer only to environmental sustainability but also to business sustainability. Overall, fintech companies will likely develop in a way that best protects their personal interests, or best balances risk management, in the long run.

There are numerous non-finance roles in the fintech industry such as marketing, sales operations, coding, etc. Furthermore, many people in the fintech space do not have a background in finance. Instead, it may be more helpful for one to grow their network in the fintech space, and consider the specific function or department that one wants to work in.

Hard skills may include knowledge surrounding regtech (regulatory technology), regulatory compliance, payment fraud, tax fraud, risk management, etc. Soft skills may include the willingness to hustle or strive even if one is completely new to the industry, the eagerness to learn and engage in face-to-face collaboration especially in the early phases of one’s career, and the proactiveness to expand one’s network, be it through joining the Singapore FinTech Association community, attending networking events including the Singapore FinTech Festival, reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn, being a part of one’s university fintech club, etc. As most members of the fintech industry are generally willing to pay it forward, one should not hesitate to reach out earnestly.