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The highest paying fintechs: Stripe displaced, and pros of lower pay elsewhere

Working at a fintech firm still made people a lot of money in 2023, despite the broader downturns in the industry. If you want in, you need to choose your options carefully, and there are a few places that should be at the top of your list. Stripe, for example, has a reputation as being the big spending fintech when it comes to pay. But big money isn't everything, and as the fintech sector is forced into a period of 'adapt or die,' there are signs of bifurcation between high players with a grinding culture and lower payers that like to take things a little more easily. That being said, it's rarely so simple...

The chart below shows the average Total Compensation (TC) of software developers at 38 global fintech unicorns, based on figures from Levels.fyi in 2023. The number of data points varies from firm to firm, of course, and does not definitively represent the structure of pay at each company. Nonetheless, it is interesting that Stripe is not one of the precious few fintechs where earning $400k TC packages seems the norm. 

Atop the fintech pay mountain is Plaid. The B2B infrastructure fintech was very generous this year, bumping up compensation to $424k from $388k last year, based on Levels' figures. Conversely, Stripe paid $398k on average in 2022 but dropped its average to $370k this year. It is worth bearing in mind however that Stripe has many more data points.

Klarna, the loss-making Swedish Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) fintech, pays the least in Europe, but not worldwide. That dishonor goes to NuBank, the publicly traded digital banking decacorn with a $40bn valuation. NuBank is based in Brazil, which puts it at a pay disadvantage and makes its similarity to European firms admirable. In the US, the lowest paying fintech is loans startup Upgrade, on account of a heavily Canadian engineering contingent.

So Plaid or Stripe should be your top option, right? Maybe not, if you want meaningful work or a relaxed environment. On jobs forum Blind, Stripe reviews in 2023 warn of a "cutthroat culture" with "zero sense of psychological safety." One review warned product teams were inundated with "analysis paralysis," where there are "great ideas, but not a lot of doing." At Plaid, meanwhile, even CTO Jean-Denis Greze says a lot of the work done is unexciting, "just moving letters around on the internet."

If you're an in-office advocate, you should also know that one review says "some offices are ghost towns." Plaid also describes itself as... "plemote first."

Then look at Nubank and Klarna. At the former, Blind reviews in 2023 say "work-life balance is wonderful." At the latter, they say there are "brilliant people to work with and a lot of space for taking on responsibility." It's not all sunshine and rainbows, however; Klarna have been accused of cutting costs and, with BNPL regulation on the way, its already tenuous business model may be set to get even worse.

Enjoyment isn't the only thing a lower paying firm can give you. If you value career progression, Revolut should be among those you consider. Young employees rise to senior roles very quickly and, if the pay still isn't up to snuff, you'll be happy to know Revolut alumni are known to go on to bigger and better things.

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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