Navigating big organisations can be a daunting job, especially for a small FinTech that is keen to find its first partner.
In this journey, FinTech SMEs can get lost with big corporations, demoing and presenting their solution to countless teams as they try to get the deal closed.
In some cases, Fintechs have a clear entry point through the Bank’s partnerships team, the internal “matchmakers” between external vendors and internal parties. But the reality is that not all big corporations have a partnerships team. In some cases, the role is dotted across the organisation, making it harder for introductions across departments.
As such, FinTechs need to be deliberate about starting a partnership journey. The good news is that there are some key activities that FinTechs can do to ensure they are on the right track.
Identify the target team
Before embarking on a discussions with big corporations, FinTechs should identify their ideal partner and the benefits they can offer.
One simple exercise to do is to map out all they know about banking functions and teams. No matter the organisation’s size or type, all banks will have teams that perform vital processes and operations.
This exercise will help FinTech SMEs identify the teams that will benefit the most from the product and the ones that they should aim to contact.
Additionally, if a FinTech already has other partners, understanding which teams are currently using their product will clarify the roles and team names.
So often, I ask Fintech teams the exact same question: “which teams and roles are using your product elsewhere?”
Translate technology to business value
When a Fintech starts, its secret power is the technology, and naturally, the team skillset is heavily technology-based.
However, as they start growing and embarking on discussions with big corporations, FinTech SMEs should re-evaluate their teams’ skillset.
On the other side of the coin, Business SMEs within a big corporation will have a mix of technology and business understanding. And although the financial services workforce skillset is heading towards a more technology-based, the reality is that we are not there yet. Most business SMEs have predominately business skills. As such, having the ability to translate technology to business is essential.
Find the Business Sponsor
Lastly, FinTechs should ensure they focus on both Leadership and Business SME buy-in.
Too often, FinTech SMEs focus solely on impressing the Banking Leadership and overlook the value of impressing and finding a business Sponsor.
A business sponsor is typically the SME that owns the process and the problem at hand. If a FinTech can show them how they will solve the problem, improve their process and experience, they will have immediate buy-in and sponsorship.
Once bought in, the business sponsor will praise the Fintech’s solution to colleagues and managers, being an internal advocate on Fintech’s behalf.
And this is the secret sauce, in my opinion. I have seen brilliant FinTechs with outstanding products and ideas that do not finalise a partnership because they did not find a Business Sponsor.
This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.
Rita Martins drives Innovation and FinTech Partnerships for Finance and Risk, at HSBC. See her personal blog here.