Working in the fintech industry is like coming and going, requires a high level of professionalism in a relaxed work environment, and is driven by innovation, good, smart, and forward-thinking ideas, according to a widespread consensus. But who are the very heads and creators behind these creative thinking processes, at the interface between finance, digital technologies and entrepreneurship? This time, Stephan Heller answers our questions.
Who are you, what are you doing?
I am founder and CEO of FinCompare. Before that, I already founded Watchmaster. I see myself as a master builder. I build fast growing, but also sustainable internet companies with network effects for big markets.
What were your first contacts with the payment and banking industry?
I studied Corporate Finance and was interned at an investment bank in London during the financial crisis. I was in the middle of a storm, so to speak. I came to my current task when I was looking at Watchmaster at various banks for a financing for our warehouse. That was a pretty modest process and a tough business. That’s why I founded FinCompare.
When did you first hear the word FinTech?
When I moved to London in 2011, I had the first contact with fintechs. I think it was Transferwise, which I actively used at a very early stage to exchange pounds in euros. Even then I noticed that there are many possibilities for improvement in the financial industry.
How do you define FinTech?
For me FinTech means a company that deals with solving problems in the financial industry. A fintech is always a startup for me. That means fast-growing, venture-capital-funded and technology-driven.
What do you think make established companies better than FinTechs?
Established companies in the financial sector usually have an existing, profitable business model, which is often preceded by FinTechs. However, FinTechs are catching up on this initial backlog – at best – quickly.
What can you learn from FinTechs?
Take more risks and dare more courage. This is especially true in our area, where we often deal with a risk averse corporate culture in established companies.
Why do established (big) companies really have such a hard time digitizing them?
Digitization often means that existing employees are no longer are suitable. First of all, this is a painful process and cultural difficult, secondly you need young good people, to find them is also not easy. Among other things, these two factors will be digitization projects often not implemented sustainably. “Digitization projects are often not implemented sustainably”
What would you do for a living if you did not work in the payment and banking industry?
I would always build startups. If I did not build FinTech, it would be a healthcare company.
Which company would you like to work with for one day?
I would like to spend a day with a Chief Digital Officer of a major German bank. I do not care at all, but I’d like to understand why banks are having such a hard time with digital projects.
Who would you like to drink a beer with?
Definitely Jack Ma. It is absolutely amazing what he has built with Alibaba.
Also published on Medium.