Why are candidates being drawn to fintech over investment banks?

Daniel Tannenbaum, September 15, 2021 3 min read

This article was sponsored by Tudor Lodge

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven investment bankers to reconsider their work-life balance. Notorious for pushing the 95-hour working week and burning the candle, many employees working for investment banks in the UK have savoured the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic, avoiding the commute and not having to put in face-time in front of their superiors.

The result? Investment banks are struggling to lure the best candidates. Research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) showed that vacancies within the financial services sector increased 37.8% between quarter one and quarter two this year.

More and more talented staff and employees are turning away from investment banks and towards working for fintech startups. Whether it’s a move from Morgan Stanley to Monzo, or from Santander to Starling Bank – the proposition to work in a fintech startup is becoming far more appealing.

Why is working for a fintech company more appealing?

“The company culture of a fintech or startup is certainly going to be relaxed and likely to be more sociable and enjoyable,” explains David Beard, the founder of Lending Expert, who previously worked in financial services for over 12 years before setting up his price comparison website in 2013.

“People are attracted to working more traditional hours, saying goodbye to the very institutionalised environment [in financial services] and being part of a company that respects things such as work life balance and employee wellbeing.”

And that is not to say that working in fintech is a downgrade by any means. In 2020 and 2021, the UK’s fintech industry was valued at around £10.7 billion and continues to grow rapidly.

“There are a lot of positions for highly skilled analysts and people with financial backgrounds,” explains Frank Clarke of specialist finance company, Octagon Capital.

“A lot of fintech activity happens behind the scenes including the data, the analysis, the processing and of course, the banking. If you think of Transferwise (now Wise), Monzo, Revolut – they need people with banking experience to continue driving their growth.”

“For investment bankers, this presents a new opportunity, a new challenge and probably a less pressurised environment.” 

Fintech offers a greater sense of agility

For David Green, head of brand at Fund Ourselves, a fast-growing fintech startup, a less institutionalised environment offers a greater sense of agility where trying new things is embraced.

He comments: “In general, at a fintech company, you are more likely to be given the chance to demonstrate your own ideas from a professional point of view and grow into your chosen area of specialism.”

What should fintechs be doing to attract the best recruits?

The investment banks are upping their game to hire the best new candidates, with Goldman Sachs announcing a salary increase for first-year analysts to £79,000 earlier this month – and other banks have followed suit including JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Barclays, among others.

Dan Kettle of fintech company, Pheabs, explains: “To attract the best staff, you want to present an image that is comfortable and relaxed. You can wear suits or casual clothing, but just no ties.”

“But also highlight the benefits that are commonly associated with startups – such as attention to health and wellbeing such as regular yoga or pilates classes or breakout rooms where people can go sit on couches and beanbags to work where it is more comfortable. If you can offer a profit sharing scheme or shares in the business, this could be very attractive financially, especially if people are used to the bonuses associated with corporate banking.”

Talent & Skills