How to get into fintech if you can't code
Fintech firms are not only looking for coders. There are plenty of jobs available to people who have a less technical background. Here are the top roles available if you want to work in fintech, but are not a developer.
Project managers and business analysts
The financial services firms’ increasing use of technology to automate workflow and processes has created new opportunities for non-developers who can understand how technology affects the big picture.
“Fintech needs project mangers and business analysts who have the subject matter expertise and can direct technology teams,” said Peter Laughter, the founder/CEO of Spartoi Group. “People who understand sales and marketing are also key.”
Rachel Leit, manager of information technology at Michael Page, a recruitment firm, also sees demand in the fintech space for various roles in the project management office (PMO) – sometimes called program management – and business analysts. Most of the roles she places are associates, assistant vice presidents, vice presidents and directors, but she has seen recruitment activity for the head of project management and even partner hires.
The sweet spot is between three and eight years of experience at a Big Four professionals services firm, a bank or a management consulting firm, Leit said.
“Going into the program management office where you can leverage organizational, project and program management skills is a career path into IT, particularly if you are not a coder,” said Anne Crowley, co-founder and managing director of Jay Gaines & Co., a Wall Street recruiter.
“Business analyst roles are more focused on your knowledge of the given business area such as finance and accounting and your ability to capture that into requirements,” she said. “Consulting is a great path into IT,” Crowley said. “You'd pick up methodology, as well as process, project and program management skills.”
Relationship managers, salespeople and marketers
While it’s no secret that far fewer traditional trading roles exist than a decade ago, the flip side of the disruptive forces that have caused the thinning has been the creation of a host of new roles at trading technology vendors. Though these firms need technologists, the importance of well-rounded sales, account management and sales-engineers to these vendors is critical as well.
Sean Sullivan, the chief revenue officer of trading technology provider LiquidityBook, says a skilled relationship manager is someone who learns a client’s business and provides solutions that deliver value.
“Relationships are still important in this industry, but today they’re built on far more than just a shared experience at a ballgame or steak dinner,” Sullivan said. “Everything about our business is more sophisticated and complex, so understanding – from a deep technical level – the client’s challenges, and how your technology can solve them is imperative.
Hybrid sales, support and platform-integration roles
Without hands-on coding and development experience, you can be considered for various hybrid positions at banks that are still in tech. For example, sales support and IT support roles.
“You have to have a good understanding of these technologies to act as a liaison between the business and tech professionals – there is a little bit of a learning curve,” said Shea Shepard, managing consulting of information technology at Michael Page. “Developers typically don’t have the soft skills to communicate to the business what they can actually do, and some don’t have the ability to customize code to the platform they’re developing.
Roles like IT business analyst, sales support and IT support analyst are maybe the easiest way to get into technology for someone who has a good concept of tech but doesn’t have hands-on coding ability,” he said. “They act as intermediary between the business side and developers, which is a way to get your foot in the door and move into a technical team away from the business side, invest time with developers in learning that side of the business
In the fintech space, sales engineers are individuals who might have some computer science experience or a technical background, but they didn’t dive deep into hardcore coding. They work alongside account managers and business development professionals, and they sometimes go on meetings with the sales team.
“If they’re an engineer, the director of app development, the CTO or a subject-matter expert that can explain everything about the platform or product, that would certainly involve a strong understanding of the development,” Shepard said. “They understand the coding going on in the backend without writing the code themselves.
“They could have a computer science degree or a communications degree but they found themselves in a more technical role out of school,” he said.
Legal, compliance, risk, audit and strategy
For these types of roles, the background that fintech hiring managers are looking for are candidates with deal experience dealing with current regulations.
“Those are always changing, but they do want to hire people with risk and regulatory experience,” Leit said. “They are the middlemen between the developers and the business, not individuals producing revenue, but rather supporting the front-, middle- and back-office.”
Technology strategy roles are typically for professionals who have worked at management consulting or Big Four professional services firms. Fintech firms are looking for people with business transformation experience to build out their internal strategy groups with the IT or operations department.
“It’s typically hard to get into an internal consulting group with just banking knowledge unless they grow into that role in the firm,” Leit said. “Typically these candidates are coming from an advisory firm, either Big Four or management consulting.”
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