You’ve been knocking it out of the park and learning new concepts since pre-school, and you’ve always been told you’d make a great lawyer. Or Accountant. Or stock broker…journalist… software engineer... You’ve imagined yourself doing something cutting-edge…working on Wall Street…or maybe something creative like graphic design or videography. Now that you’re in high school, it’s time to begin preparing for your future, but – with so many interests – you’re not sure where to focus. Consider FinTech – a career that checks all the boxes – and then some.
What is FinTech, and how can you prepare for a career in the industry?
What is FinTech?
FinTech is a multifaceted topic, and each facet could easily be the subject of its own lengthy blog. For the sake of brevity, we won’t delve too deeply into any one aspect but will provide an overview and outline the opportunities this emerging technology is creating.
Broadly speaking, Financial Technology, or FinTech, is a dynamic combination of financial services and technology that’s revolutionizing the way we do business and make payments. According to Entrepreneur, the FinTech industry is valued at more than $330 billion, and it’s expected to grow by 20% in the next six years. Cryptocurrency, a blockchain technology that falls under the FinTech umbrella, is also growing. Approximately 300 million people are expected to use cryptocurrency in 2022.
How does FinTech apply in everyday life? In the past, it could take up to two weeks for a traditional check to clear but today, smartphone apps like Venmo and Zelle allow us to send and receive funds almost instantly. In fact, most of us no longer go to the bank to deposit checks – we can instantly make deposits via our phones. Gone are the days when we had to visit a bank and meet with a loan officer to obtain a loan. Now we can fill out online loan forms – and banks aren’t our only options. Peer-to-peer lenders (P2P) and balance sheet lenders provide loans funded by individual and institutional investors. Want to make an investment? Now you can use an automated robo-advisor instead of meeting with your financial advisor. All of these innovations are possible due to FinTech – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. FinTech is literally transforming all aspects of the financial services industry. In the process, it’s creating a whole new generation of career opportunities.
Career Opportunities In FinTech
Barb Leventhal, an educational consultant with more than 30 years of experience, says that FinTech has already created a variety of new careers on Wall Street and beyond. FinTech is expected to have a spinoff effect, creating even more new jobs in the coming months and years – in some cases, jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. Even more groundbreaking? Thanks to FinTech, Wall Street is no longer recruiting only professionals with math, computer science, finance, and other traditional business degrees. Leventhal says FinTech can be a good match for people with a wide variety of skill sets.
“In addition to financial literacy, Wall Street needs people with storytelling as a fundamental business skill,” she said. “People who excel in subjects like graphic design, theater, film, English, art history, social media…People with creativity and imagination who can tell stories relative to FinTech, and explain this emerging technology and all that it comprises.”
Annaline Dinkelmann, owner and founder of Teach Me Wall Street, agrees. She defines FinTech as the “renovation of our financial system” and says that although many jobs have been eliminated due to FinTech and the process improvements it brings, FinTech has also created numerous new jobs. And she believes the future potential is limitless.
“Companies like Fidelity and Edward Jones now have a social media presence and – for the first time ever – Wall Street firms have YouTube channels, Facebook and Instagram pages, they create podcasts, and use all kinds of new communication tools,” she said. “These companies need people to write the video and podcast scripts, videographers to film and produce the videos and podcasts, and a social media team to create, schedule, and manage the posts as well as lawyers to review and approve the communications. These are new Wall Street jobs that did not exist in the past.”
Dinkelmann says FinTech is also creating jobs related to software and hardware as well as a wide range of what she referred to as “people jobs” like team leaders, programmers, and analysts. New jobs are also emerging in related industries. For example, she said, there are more than 200 banking apps in the Apple App Store – people need to design and develop them. Opportunities abound.
FinTech careers also include technical-oriented positions like:
- Blockchain Experts/Developers
- Financial Managers
- Quantitative Analysts/Traders
- Business and Technology Consultants
- Business Development Specialists
- Risk and Compliance Managers
- Financial App Developers
- Cryptocurrency Analysts
- Cyber Security Analysts
- Compliance Experts
Getting Technical: Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, two of FinTech’s many facets, are also generating new career opportunities. Blockchain is a complex, groundbreaking technology that U.S. News and World Report define as “a digital ledger of transactions that is replicated and distributed across a large network of computer systems, or nodes, to record and secure information.” Blockchain is transforming the way we manage data and transactions, ensuring that all data being transferred is secure and accurate. Because data can’t be altered once it’s added to a blockchain and the data can be easily tracked, blockchain systems reduce the risk of fraud. That’s why most experts and analysts agree that FinTech – and all that it encompasses – is not a fad.
Blockchain technology is used in banking, healthcare, voting, asset transfers, and countless other areas requiring secure transactions. Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency were among the first uses of blockchain technology, as cryptocurrency uses blockchain networks and blockchain technology is used to ensure that cryptocurrency transactions are secure.
Cryptocurrency and digital currency are revolutionizing the way we pay for things, and many people believe it’s here to stay. Dinkelmann says a future ‘digital dollar’ has countless practical applications. For example, it can benefit the homeless and others who don’t have the physical address required to open a bank account, as well as people who can’t visit their banks for some reason.
“When Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas in 2019, the damage was so extensive that some people were without a physical bank for more than a year, she said. “But if you have your bank in your cell phone – cell service is easily restored. So the impact of FinTech and the blockchain in the financial industry is huge. In the future we may even use digital currency instead of traditional money, also referred to as fiat currency.”
Leventhal also believes that cryptocurrency is the wave of the future.
“For students, who are already ‘digital natives’ due to growing up using technology, cryptocurrencies are a natural way to move forward,” she said. “TikTok influencers are talking about how to get rich with crypto, and even last year’s Super Bowl had crypto advertisers. In the UK alone, more than a million teens have invested in crypto – and many have become millionaires. Cryptocurrency has become mainstream – it’s here to stay.”
Some countries, like the Bahamas, Africa, China, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, and the United Kingdom are already experimenting with digital currency. As the industry grows, a variety of new companies and crypto exchanges are emerging – which also means new career opportunities.
“FinTech is generating many new job opportunities and if you’re resourceful, you can even blaze your own trail and create your own opportunities,” Dinkelmann said. “FinTech is so new that there’s no ‘how-to’ manual here. You need to be a visionary and uncover potential possibilities by seeking out opportunities, keeping an open mind, and asking questions like, ‘where is the opportunity here – where could this go?’
Preparing For A Career in FinTech
You believe you’ve got what it takes for a career in FinTech, but where do you start? Can you get a degree in FinTech, blockchain technology, or related subjects? According to Leventhal, the programs are still emerging and evolving.
“Because blockchain is so new, there aren’t yet enough professor-level instructors available to teach the courses and create a specific major in a blockchain – but there are currently some colleges offering FinTech degrees, certificate programs, and boot camps,” she said. “As more people become blockchain-certified, there will be more innovation, and soon there will likely be a college major in the blockchain.”
Meanwhile, Leventhal says there are a variety of effective ways to prepare for a career in the FinTech industry. For example, numerous online games and simulations can help students gain financial literacy. Students can also join industry-related professional associations and participate in competitions, which will not only help prepare a student for a future in FinTech – it can also get a student noticed by admissions officers.
“Competitions are important because they give colleges a picture of who you are compared to other candidates,” she said. “There are a variety of FinTech and blockchain-related competitions like the Blockchain Innovation Challenge, where students get into teams and address challenges using blockchain technology. There’s an International Blockchain Olympiad which is an annual global completion involving high school students…and many other competitions, associations, and internships to help you prepare for a career in the industry and make you stand out on your college application.”
Becoming proficient in various languages is also beneficial, as Leventhal believes that speaking to people in their native language increases engagement. Invaluable skills for a career in FinTech also include analytical thinking, creativity, leadership, design skills, flexibility, and problem-solving. When applying to college, Leventhal says it’s essential that students demonstrate these abilities within their applications. Even more important? Creating a compelling story, and telling that story through your college application.
“That’s where I come in,” Leventhal said. “My goal as a consultant is to showcase a student’s intellectual curiosity and individual talents. If a student is interested in pursuing FinTech, we start by determining which aspect of the field he or she finds most intriguing. Then I help the student map out classes, activities, projects, competitions, research activities, and internships that support careers in FinTech, blockchain, cryptocurrency – or whichever area they’ve chosen. Together, we create a story – and an action plan to make it happen.”
Educational Online FinTech-Oriented Games to Gain Financial Literacy
- Hit the Road: A Financial Adventure: The National Credit Union Administration offers this simple, user-friendly game to teach students how to manage a budget and make informed financial decisions while taking a virtual road trip with friends.
- Payback: Offered by Next Gen Personal Finance, this game allows students to decide how to best spend their money while attending college. As they play, students receive feedback about their decisions.
- Financial Football: Visa and the National Football League teamed up to offer this interactive NFL-themed game that teaches students money management skills including budgeting, saving and spending, and how to use credit wisely.
- The Uber Game: Offered by Financial Times, The Uber Game puts students in the driver’s seat and lets them simulate being full-time Uber drivers with a $1,000 monthly mortgage and two children to support. Players make a variety of financial decisions as they pick up and drop off passengers.
Educational Bitcoin and Blockchain Games
The following free online games, available in online app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play, allow players to simulate earning and trading cryptocurrencies and experience blockchain technology:
- Bitcoin Hero
- Altcoin Fantasy
- Merge Cats
- Spells of Genesis
- Crypto Kitties
Experts like Leventhal and Dinkelmann agree that being innovative, recognizing emerging opportunities, and having the ability to tell stories are crucial qualities for a career in FinTech. They also agree that FinTech has forever changed Wall Street.
“While the jobs on Wall Street are changing, the critical skills required for success are not changing,” Leventhal said. “Creativity and problem-solving skills are not dated, and they never go out of style.”
Interested in learning more about how to prepare for a potential career in the FinTech industry? Give us a call. Our professional educational consultants, essay specialists, and college counselors will guide you every step of the way. We’ve helped thousands of students achieve their dreams – and we can help you!