Or how to explain what you do as a fintech professional to people who have no clue about technology and/or financial institutions, without quoting The Wolf of Wall Street.
The average tentative involves you saying that you work in fintech (that’s financial technology) and having then to explain that your clients are mostly banks which rely on complex technologies and heavy computing power to operate, which will not make sense to most people because, well, why would you want a data center and cutting edge software to track the account balances of your customers and run your accounting, there’s Excel for that, but heeey, nooo, it’s investment banks and funds we’re talking about, not retail banks, you know, the type of banks which trade complex financial products which require heavy math and intensive computation to be valued and processed, and it goes sideways from there on because, well, you find yourself compelled to provide an example, so you try to explain what an option is, a contract which conveys its owner the right to buy or sell an underlying asset or instrument like an Amazon stock at a specified strike price prior to or on a specified date, and that the math to value it was only developed in the 70’s by Black, Scholes and Morton, which sparked a boom in the trading of options which has not waned ever since, and by the time you start explaining the Black-Scholes equation and the fact that it relies on the volatility of the price of the underlying, what underlying? Well the Amazon stock remember? No? That’s exactly my point: they are either completely lost or completely bored. At this point, you can always try to rely on your wingman, the Wolf of Wall Street, because that’s the closest most people will ever get to a trading floor and I do not blame them for not trying harder, it is an acquired taste.
If this long explanation still sounds obscure to you dear reader and possibly fintech professional, just know that a retail bank is the one you go to to open a bank account and get a credit card and it caters mostly for individuals whereas an investment bank is the place where options and other financial instruments are traded, on a trading floor.
And for those who have never seen one, a trading floor can look and sound like a high-tech fish market, a bit toned down maybe, no fish smell, less decibels, but a fish market still. People selling stuff to other people, trying to agree on a price, managing their stock while keeping an eye on the market and the competition. There you go. It might not be entirely accurate, but it has the merit of demystifying the place.
At this point of the reading, you might want to realize that we have still not explained what it is that a fintech professional actually does. I personally work in delivery, that’s implementing complex financial software solutions at investment banks and hedge or mutual funds. But it is not about me, it is about you dear reader/possibly fintech professional.
So the next time they ask you about your job, and unless it is alright because you like the way it hurts, swallow your pride, give The Wolf of Wall Street a break and say you work in IT, full stop.
And point them to this post.
Let the board sound