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Shaping the future of finance

My top 5 tips for fintechs and finance

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I was interviewed the other day by Jason Hartman for Authority magazine for some top tips for fintechs and finance. Worth a read but it you cannot be bothered clicking, here is the interview!

As part of my series about the “How to Navigate and Succeed in the Modern World of Finance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Skinner.

Chris is an award-winning speaker, bestselling author and independent commentator on financial markets and fintech through his blog, the Finanser.com. A prolific author, Chris has penned 18 books covering everything from European regulations in banking through the credit crisis to the future of banking. He is a sought-after speaker, delivering powerful keynote speeches at conferences and events; a visiting lecturer with Cambridge University; as well as a TEDx speaker. He is a non-executive director of 11:FS and on the advisory boards of many FinTech and financial firms including WebAccountPlus. In recent years, he has been voted one of the UK’s foremost fintech observers by The Telegraph and one of the most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News and Thomson Reuters. He has also been recently added to The Mad 33 List for Inspirational change and transformation leaders — making a difference — making the future a reality, as well as receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Payments Association.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’ve worked in technology in financial markets for most of my life, starting out with IBM and moving across various companies serving the banking and insurance firms.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

These days I present as a professional around the world, but the first presentations I ever gave were awful. I always remember telling a joke that was risqué at one conference and no one laughed. The take away is read the room folks.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

My newest project is the book, Intelligent Money, which is all about generative finance and how AI integrated with money changes the world. The book will help anyone interested in their bank account to get the most out of it.

Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the central focus of our discussion. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started what was its WHY, its purpose?

My company has always had one focus: what is the future of finance and technology? We cannot change yesterday or today, but we can change tomorrow. How do you want tomorrow to look?

Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?

Well I self-govern my business and therefore the principle is: only do something that your neighbour would do. I know that’s one of the religious rules, but love thy neighbour and don’t be nasty. They are my drivers.

If a fellow business leader would ask you for advice about whether to bootstrap or to look for VC capital, how would you help them weigh the pros and cons of that decision?

I would say that this is fine, but that many VCs will drive hard bargains. After all, they are investing in you and your business, and that’s not for free. In early days, it is often better to work with a community of friends than with those who are purely looking for returns on investment and an exit.

What measure do you use to determine the value of a company? What advice would you give to other leaders about how to get an optimal evaluation of their business?

The primary determinant is whether the business has spotted a market opening and can fill it. If the business is purely rubbing up against a marketplace that is already filled, then I am hesitant. Equally, the value is determined by the leadership team and whether it has the right balance of vision and experience. I always look at the executives and measure their depth.

What would you advise to a founder who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

Change the model. It is too easy to do business as usual and, if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you get the same results. Innovate to succeed.

What are the most common finance mistakes you have seen other businesses make? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

The biggest issue for all early growth businesses is the run rate, cashflow and ability to invest to grow. If the business is reaching a financial precipice, it’s too late. Plan early, ensure capital cover and that the tools and resources are in place to keep the business running for the next year.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to succeed in the modern finance industry? Please share a story or an example for each.

That’s a big one. Five? I guess I would start with understand the business. Get qualified. Finance is not a simple industry. There are thousands of rules and regulations. To succeed, you need to understand them. Second, get networked. If you think you can make it on your own, you’re a fool. Make friends, get connected and make sure your name is known. Third, work out what you want to achieve. It’s too easy to just get on with a job without a goal. You need goals, objectives and achievements. Without them, you have no direction or purpose. Fourth, be nice. I always remember the anecdote that you need to be good to people on your way up so that they don’t treat you like dirt on your way down. Whatever you achieve, there’s always a moment where it might end, so be a good person. Finally, don’t take anything for granted. You only get what you get. Always be hungry and ambitious. Don’t take anything for granted.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I would probably add to the points made before that the best way to avoid burn out is to have a release. Mine is running marathons and walking the dog. What’s yours?

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Give everyone on Earth a smartphone that is paid for and free. The reason? If everyone can connect to the network and trade, transact and talk, that will change the world.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I blog every day at thefinanser.com, and am also very active on X (Chris_Skinner), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmskinner/) and other social media.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

 

 

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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