In with the young: Why fintechs need young thinkers to thrive [Opinion]

startup young people fintech

The traditional finance industry has for a long time been driven by legacy approaches.

The rapid growth in fintechs and startups illustrates the growing demand by customers for service providers that deliver more responsive and affordable solutions that are better tailored to their needs.

While the availability of advanced technology is contributing to this change, we believe it is the emergence of a young, forward-thinking workforce that has proven to be the most significant change in the industry.

This young, forward-thinking workforce approaches problem-solving differently — with a technology-first mindset.


Young people have grown up with technology permeating every facet of their lives. For them, innovation is a constant. They adapt more easily to change and bring an innate curiosity and different way of thinking into any organisation they work for.

But businesses must be willing to embrace this new way of thinking and working.

Of course, this is not to say that the financial services industry does not have a place for experienced people who have specialist skills. It is only the knowledge in outdated legacy systems and practices that can be seen as surplus to today’s fast-moving requirements.

Reinventing financial services

If financial services organisations want to continue growing and remain relevant, they need to overhaul their investment and banking platforms. This overhaul requires a combination of new technologies; young developers and data scientists.

And with disruptive technologies like the cloud, blockchain, and artificial intelligence being more readily available, a small team of young and technically-minded people is best equipped to build large, scalable, and secure applications that compete with those from more established platform providers.

Young thinkers are more accustomed to learning new technology and are naturally inclined to find whatever skills they need online. They are more comfortable with the pace of change in a digital world and have no ‘legacy knowledge’ that limits their thinking.

We have seen that large institutions are not able to respond as quickly to customer expectations as more nimble startups. It is a result of a combination of the pervasiveness of legacy systems and the sheer number of people working for them that make change difficult to manage.

For the most part, it is possible that young talent will get lost more easily in a workforce of 10 000 employees as opposed to a company with 50 people on the payroll.

Growing faster

Overall, young people are more comfortable with unknowns and will be more proactive with acquiring skills. Typically, they do not wait for companies to begin with training programmes. They prefer to go online and proactively learn the skills needed to overcome a specific business challenge.

This is a massive advantage when starting a new company and driving innovation and change in a specific sector.

Younger people, who are used to instant or near-instant gratification, might underestimate the complexity of a specific task or system. This can sometimes lead to ‘reinventing the wheel’ because there is a tendency to action rather than sitting and thinking a problem through.

This same tendency can lead to issues when patience and perseverance is required. So, whether it is starting a new business or innovating in a specific area of finance, there must be a team in place that combines young talent with experienced professionals.

No financial services institution, or any business for that matter, can ever discount the advantage of experience and knowledge, but in a digital economy, there is no doubt that innovation is a young-person’s game.

This article is written by Sipho van der Putten, Chief Technology Officer at Invictus Capital

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Featured image: William Fortunato via Pexels



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