Here's a random, by-the-way admission: when my students ask me what the best career fields are; the ones that offer the most stability and security, I always tell them: "maintenance, medicine and academics." Food is also on my list of stable jobs. However, low pay, high turnover and abysmal working conditions make any work from food production to the hospitality industry a job of last resort for most job seekers. Now, I'm no mover or shaker in any kind of industry; my assessment of the best career fields is purely logical. Our things will need repairs, we will get sick and we must continue learning. And, of course, we have to eat. So, imagine my surprise at finding that statistics prove my logic. Studies show that the Top 10 career searches in 2021 were related to medicine - anything from physical therapist to nurse practitioner; maintenance (who wants to work on an oil rig?) and academics. Can you believe there's a growing demand for mathematicians and statisticians? There are a few IT specialists in high demand; cybersecurity experts and coders, for two. Nowhere, in all of the reports available to us was FinTech mentioned, even though it's one of the hottest career fields today; one that fertile minds are keen to get into. Here's why:
|Reasons why FinTech is the career of the future:|
|1. FinTech is flexible, wide-ranging and accessible to all.|
|2. Thanks to its ease of access and surging importance, jobs are plentiful in FinTech.|
|3. FinTech can be a stepping stone to entrepreneurship.|
|4. FinTech has completely transformed the finance industry; it has the potential to completely revolutionize our concepts of money and finance.|
|5. FinTech knows no borders; it is a global industry with enormous potential.|
|6. FinTech does away with the traditional business structure.|
|7. FinTech work can be found in the most progressive cities worldwide.|
FinTech Is Everywhere
Despite its long history - the tools that made early fintech possible date back to the Second Industrial Revolution, most people believe that FinTech is only a few years old. It seems they're confusing the FinTech industry with fintech itself. These days, everyone uses fintech; even you, we'll wager. Are any of these a part of your financial management strategies?
- automatic teller machines, AKA ATMs, cash machines, holes in the wall...
- 'money' cards: debit or credit cards and gift cards; even transportation cards (Oyster cards and other contactless payment cards)
- online banking and mobile banking
- automatic bill-pay
- digital wallets: Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Alipay and WeChat pay
- third-party payment apps/systems (Venmo, PayPal, Shopify and so on)
- money transfer: Western Union, MoneyGram and so on
Granted, that last bullet point represents a fairly outdated way of transferring money. Still, plenty of people use wire transfer services, even in these digital times. Otherwise, those companies would be out of business by now. And, besides, listing them serves to highlight financial technology's long history - Western Union was founded in 1851. By contrast, the industry identifying itself as FinTech is only about 12 years old. It started in 2009, when the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto initiated the first blockchain transaction. Its very youth proves that the FinTech industry has nowhere to go but up.
FinTech Is Accessible
The concept of cyberspace implies that it is wide open, with no borders. Sure, some countries may block certain applications; the Great Chinese firewall is a prime example of such (but by no means the only one). Still, even from behind what firewalls may exist, individual countries are racing to realise the next step in FinTech. Often, they do it through collaboration and information-sharing. Economic summits such as Davos and ASEAN are two such venues; hackathons are a more public, informal way of learning together. Indeed, such events are where the bulk of discovery-sharing and collaboration take place. Note that hackers generally get a bum rap because, most often, their unsavoury acts are publicized. Hackathon enthusiasts are of the benevolent sort; those who happily engage in programming exploration to discover and overcome limitations of existing software. This is one way that FinTech is accessible to all. These events are held in-person or online; the latter particularly in these COVID times. Everyone is welcome into the hacking community and all challenges, contributions and ideas are considered. Beyond such groups, other organisations support fintech. In the UK, you might turn to Innovate Finance for collaboration while, in Germany, Silicon Allee should be your first stop. There are others, too, from the Netherlands to Israel and, yes, even in China and Russia. If nothing else, attending a few of these events can clue you into what you need to know about FinTech before plunging in.
FinTech Is Transformational
Considering the ubiquitous examples of fintech at work in today's world - cash machines and debit cards; payment apps and more, it would be challenging to argue against how financial technology has transformed our relationship with money. It's transformational in other ways, too. As FinTech is a relatively new industry with so much growth and potential, it's hard to see any limits on it. Of course, that's aside from governments' scrambling to regulate and legislate cryptocurrencies. Consider just one aspect of FinTech's wide range of tools: the decentralized ledger. Today as throughout history, money was financial institutions' purview. Cash was kept in a vault, transactions were recorded in a central ledger and records of every account were kept by each facility. Any time anyone needed to verify a transaction, they could simply go to the bank and have a look. Decentralized ledgers, the foundation of the blockchain concept, could transform banking as we know it. No longer would any formal entity be in charge of recording and keeping details of every financial transaction; that information would be relayed across every single computer in the blockchain's network. Likewise, each of those nodes must 'sign off' on any proposed transaction; no longer would a supplicant have to face a credit check or scrutiny into their holdings. Money isn't the only resource blockchains have revolutionised. The Ethereum blockchain specialises in smart contracts; an agreement between parties for a release of funds after certain conditions are met. Innovations such as these make setting up inheritances and annuities a snap; they remove the need for a middleman to draw any official papers up (and claim a fat fee for doing so). The list of ways FinTech is transforming the way we interpret value and what we assign value to (NFTs, anyone?) offers the possibility of new wealth creation outside of what physically exists. It levels the playing field seasoned stock traders create their wealth on, allowing amateurs and casual traders the same opportunities. If that's not transformation, what is?
FinTech Isn't Business as Usual
Because FinTech happens online, it would be natural to assume that it lends itself perfectly to remote work. You wouldn't be wrong in thinking that but plenty of start-ups involve groups of people working together in an office setting. It's not the office setting everyone's familiar with, though. Just like every other business, FinTech concerns have bosses. However, you don't have to make an appointment with their secretary, travel ever-more-austere corridors to get to their exclusive domain and adopt a subservient, pleading attitude to talk with them. More often than not, your FinTech boss will be sitting at a large table with the rest of their staff. At best, they may have a desk across the room but you won't have to ask permission or make an appointment to talk with them. On the contrary, FinTech offices tend to be open in their setup, atmosphere and dynamics. The only downside to such working conditions is that you're likely to work odd hours. In general, FinTech concerns are not known to be the standard 9-to-5 job but, if you're happy with that, then... By all means, take all the FinTech courses you can, polish up your CV and get yourself hired!
FinTech Is a Stepping Stone
Most everyone knows about Jeff Bezos launching Amazon from his parents' garage. How Michael Dell dropped out of college to build computers; an enterprise that turned into Dell Computers. How Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak teamed up to form Apple. Those and others are top billers; the big names in tech entrepreneurship. There are hordes of lesser-known names, too. Names of coders who worked in the tech industry, came up with a brilliant idea for an app and walked away from their office job to realise their dream. Kevin Systrom is a sterling example of such. He started his tech career at Google, working on such products as Docs, Calendar and Gmail. Admittedly, frustration drove him out the door but, even as he walked out, he already knew what he wanted to do next. After a short detour into an app called Burbn (ever heard of it?), he and Mike Krieger developed and launched Instagram. You might think that, with so many apps available - often with several having the same functions, the market is saturated. There's nothing left to develop; not even the app idea you've nurtured all this time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember how, earlier in this article, you read that FinTech makes possibilities endless? If you're just starting in the tech world, where better than the youngest tech industry to cut your teeth and learn what you need to learn? How better to network with those in the know? Maybe you could even meet up with someone who can make your idea a reality at the next hackathon... FinTech makes it possible to spring into entrepreneurship precisely because it's such a new concept. Contrary to working for any tech giant - which, frankly, has become much like a standard office job, the relative looseness and lack of definition of FinTech allow you to dream... and do. It's your turn to chime in: why do you think FinTech is so important to the global economy and our financial lives?
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