Vault recently spoke with Amy Zimmerman, Head of People Operations at Kabbage, a fintech firm that’s disrupting the small business loan industry. We asked Zimmerman about the current state of fintech and the prospects for job seekers in the industry in the coming year. Below is an excerpt from that conversation.
Vault: What are the prospects for job seekers in fintech in 2020? Which types of roles will be most needed?
Zimmerman: The fintech industry continues to explode. Not only are many of the established fintech companies experiencing amazing growth but new firms are also cropping up every day. As Kabbage expands from online lending to becoming a full cash-flow solutions platform for small businesses, we’re looking to add quite a few different types of roles across our organization with a strong emphasis on tech and data. I can't remember the last time we weren't actively hiring tech people.
Vault: What kinds of backgrounds do job seekers need to get positions in fintech?
Zimmerman: It might be a surprise to some people, but you don’t always have to have experience in financial services to get hired in fintech. Of course, for some types of roles, it’s strongly preferred, but there’s room for a diverse range of backgrounds and skillsets in fintech, as is the case with virtually every kind of technology company.
Vault: How, ideally, should job seekers go about looking for fintech positions? Are there good resources out there and, if so, what are they?
Zimmerman: LinkedIn is a great resource for both job seekers and companies actively recruiting. You can apply directly for many roles on the platform, and Kabbage and other fintech companies use the platform for recruiting all the time. If you have your eye on a specific company, there’s always the option to apply directly through its careers page. We hire plenty of people who apply directly.
Vault: What does the future of fintech look like to you (beyond 2020)? How do you project it will evolve? Which types of firms will be the new disrupters?
Zimmerman: Fintech will continue to grow exponentially. There are still so many disruption opportunities across all aspects of the financial services industry. At Kabbage, we’re serving a market segment that's been overlooked by traditional financial services firms. Providing small businesses access to capital has historically been deemed too costly and risky for banks to meaningfully serve them. It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s simply too expensive and difficult.
Today, more than 200,000 small businesses have accessed over $9 billion through Kabbage, and they get funding approvals in minutes—not months. We make that possible through data and automation and by analyzing their real-time business data instead of dated statements. I think banks will continue to experiment and participate where it makes sense based on their risk tolerance. Ultimately, there's room for everyone.
Vault: If it is, why is 2020 a great time to join the fintech industry either as an employee or a startup founder?
Zimmerman: At this point, the fintech industry has proven its staying power. I've been in it for 21 years, and the pace seems to have really accelerated over the last couple years. There's still a lot of green space, so for folks looking for an opportunity to really have an impact, there's no better time than now. Even some of the giant tech companies like Amazon and Apple have decided to jump on the fintech train because of the massive opportunities—it’s hard to get a better endorsement than that.
Vault: Is there anything else you recommend to young or experienced professionals looking to join the fintech industry?
Zimmerman: Hiring is all about finding the best fit for both the company and the individual. At Kabbage, we have clearly defined values that help guide us in our hiring process. Of course, you must meet minimum job requirements, but what makes you stand out are who are you as a person. We want individuals who are self-aware, unafraid to ask for help, are curious, and care deeply about others in their life. We want you to bring your whole self to work, as we’ve fostered an environment that embraces differences. Anyone interested in Kabbage can visit our careers page where we’re constantly hiring for various positions, including paid internships.
Finance firms, like many other firms, are increasingly using automation tools and programs to increase the speed and accuracy of their work processes. The reason why automation is so attractive is it helps employees to complete repetitive procedures more efficiently and to simplify complicated tasks.
Yesterday, Anthony Noto announced that he was stepping down as Twitter COO to become the CEO of fintech startup Social Finance (often referred to as SoFi). SoFi, which began in 2011 as a student loan refinancing company and has since also become a mortgage lender and hedge fund investor, has had some trouble as of late.