When the nights draw in and the last of the summer gin is emptied, our thoughts drift from holidays and playtime, towards projects, work and planning for the future. Come September, most of us, in essence, are headed back to school. Whether your school is covered in ivy or simply the school of life – we are always learning and preparing for what is to come.
This October, FinTECHTalents will not only be looking at the workplace of the future – but will also be welcoming over 500 computer science students from Europe and the UK’s top universities. From undergraduate, MA and PhD programmes, the students will come to chat, connect and discover the innovation and creativity bubbling at the heart of financial services.
When I was a student – a time of video rental membership cards, friendship bracelets and notes stuffed in lockers – a career in financial services would never have entered my mind. Strange, given that my mother had been the assistant head of operations at a Boston trust bank in the 1960s before I was born. (I often give talks where I say: ‘If you want to know why my mother was never promoted to head of operations, well…you’re looking at the reason on stage’. But that is another blog.)
I wanted to travel the world, and to talk to interesting people, create, and write and to see my name in print. Working at a bank, to me, would have meant wearing some of the sober suits, with sensible hemlines, I saw hanging in my mother’s closet. It would have meant traveling to an office, the same office every day. It would have meant wearing heels.
By a strange twist of fate, and an ad in the New York Times, I spent my career in financial services – heavily soaked in tech. (We know it today as FinTech). An industry that my 16 year old self, never mind my 22 year old self, would have ever drifted towards at a career fair or have been persuaded by a recruiter to consider. Instead, I was shown.
Over the past few decades, financial services has experienced an immense amount of change and growth and evolution. Financial services was an active player in the so-called Dot.Com revolution (and bust) in the 90s. Yes, the industry is still limping, ten years on, from a self-inflicted wound that almost saw it implode in 2008. But still banks, financial institutions and FinTech startups work every day to develop, safeguard and enhance services that handle your money.
Control over money has always gone hand in hand with power, which is why it has often been denied to those with less power. (If your mother was an adult, in the Western world, in the 1960s, ask her if she was able to take out a credit card or apply for a mortgage – without the co-sign of her father or her husband. That world, for the US and Europe, was but a generation ago.)
Simple, secure and accessible access to your money is a cornerstone of a civilised society. FinTech today is building solutions that help young people take better control over their finance and their future. Banks are holding workshops and running hackathons constantly, to try and find better and more sophisticated products to support their clients through every stage of life – from paying for university, to the birth of a new baby, to preparing for end of life care. Organisations and payment firms are expanding and entering markets all over the world that bring secure, accessible banking services to people who’ve have been denied that right – women, refugees, the global poor.
The people who will build the financial services industry of the future – the foot soldiers of FinTech – will have jobs like ‘Algorithm Engineer’ and ‘Multi-Dimensional Designer’. The bank of tomorrow (whether it is a ‘bank’ at all) will be created by those who travel the world and work with a diverse and creative group of people. Cool and exciting technology such as artificial intelligence and robotics, blockchain that underpins real world solutions and augmented reality that escapes the entertainment world and finds a place in making financial services accessible to all – are all vibrant and expanding sectors of FinTech.
If you are a computer science student of today, interested in any of the above, you would be a fool not to take a peek and see what career opportunities financial services can offer you. (A career that won’t require sober suits with sensible hemlines and heels.)
That is the core of what we are offering at FinTECHTalents. Students from Queen Mary, University of London, ie Business School, University of Leeds, University of Oxford, UCL, London South Bank University, Queen Mary London University, University of East London, University of Westminster, Kingston University, Said Business School, University of West London, University of Southampton, Loughborough University, City University London, UEL University of East London and Prifysgol Glyndwr University will mix with C-level executives from banks and FinTech startup founders in order to be ‘shown’ the promise of financial services and technology.
If you are a one of the people who are working, day in and day out, to develop and improve financial services don’t miss your chance to meet some of the hundreds of student delegates and speakers who are eager to be shown what an opportunity FinTech really is.
Join us and have your say on culture, transformation and nature of talent at FinTECHTalents – two days of innovation, collaboration, live stories, music & craft beer at HereEast, London this 30th & 31st of October.