Monthly Archives: June 2016

Career in Your Future

images-22Last year Inc. declared it to be one of “the most promising industries of 2015,” but have you even heard of it? We’re talking about fintech, and it’s revolutionizing how banks do business. In fact, the field is experiencing such rapid growth that US banking regulators are calling for new regulatory measures aimed at promoting “responsible innovation.” Is a career in fintech in your future? Let’s take a closer look at this game-changer in the financial industry, along with why a career in fintech may be right for you.

A portmanteau of the words “financial” and “technology,” fintech has been defined as “a line of business based on using software to provide financial services.”

Typically the domain of startups, fintech largely focuses on disruptive innovation.  (Although some argue that fintech is more augmentative than disruptive in nature.) Fintech sub-industries span everything from algorithmic asset management to peer-to-peer lending. Additional fintech sub-industries? Thematic investing, payments, digital currency, credit scoring, education lending, cyber security, working capital management, and others — all sharing a common theme: the imperative to improve the efficiency of financial markets and systems through technology.

But is fintech truly worthy of all the buzz it’s been generating? The numbers speak for themselves: According to a report from Accenture, global investment in this sector spiked to $12.2 billion in 2014 — tripling the prior year’s $4.05 billion. And while the US tops the list in terms of fintech investment, it’s on the rise everywhere from Asia to Africa with Europe exhibiting the fastest rates of growth.

In short, fintech is transforming the traditional business model. And with that transformation come near-endless opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start businesses as well as for existing companies looking to expand.

Why Fintech Matters

For many years the financial industry rested easy. While new technology might have penetrated its operations, banks ultimately retained control over how and when new digital financial products and services were introduced to the market. The combination of fallout from the 2007-2008 financial crisis and increasingly sophisticated technology has dispersed the power beyond banks thereby restoring balance and reshaping the industry.

In other words, fintech is changing the finance world for the better. From lower costs to more options, the potential of data-driven lending is not only huge, but uniquely profound in that it serves a previously underserved constituency: consumers.

Is Fintech Right For You?

We’ve already established how fintech is making a difference, which might leave you wondering whether you should add your talents to the effort.

If you are thinking about a career as a financial technologist, there’s good news: there’s a major fintech job boom underway. Consider London, for example, where experts are predicting that the sector will add more than 46,000 jobs in the decade between 2014 and 2024. The takeaway? If you’re looking for a job that combines security and financial payoffs, fintech is well positioned to offer both.

Fintech is also uniquely suited to Millennials — not just in terms of the fact that the products and services offered by fintech speak to their particular sensibilities, but also in terms of their role in driving the market. After all, Millennials are not only the first truly digital generation, but they also witnessed their parents bear the brunt of the financial collapse. It follows that, according to Fintech Week, “Many of the younger generation have completely lost faith in the banking world – and who are we to blame them? They need an alternative solution, and what they understand is technology and relentless innovation – a gap in the market which Fintech has now filled.”

For some younger people, meanwhile, the allure of fintech is also a very personal one: With student debt crippling the futures of many of today’s grads, fintech’s potential impact on the student loan refinancing market — both in terms of the creation of new products and serves as well as in prompting the banking industry to raise its own game in response– is particularly compelling. Imagine a future in which student loans are inherently affordable. Fintech may hold the key.

The best part? Not only is the fintech industry alive, well, and ripe with opportunities, but there are many ways to get in on the action. From formal business and finance studies to a foundation in engineering and technology, a multitude of avenues lead into this red-hot field — all with the potential to change your life, and maybe even the world, too.

Master Thesis and an Internship

You’ve got one camp telling you that an excellent thesis will help you make a name for yourself in your field. Another waxes on about the value of having an internship for landing a job. Given these dual imperatives, it hardly comes as a shock that many driven master’s students find themselves performing a daily juggling act. No one said graduate school was going to be easy, but it doesn’t have to feel like you’re always one dropped ball away from disaster. Let’s count down four ways to successfully balance your master’s thesis and internship.

1. Schedule Daily Time to Write
The fact that your boss expects you to be at your internship everyday provides meaningful motivation to show up. Unfortunately, the same element of external accountability is missing from the thesis scenario. The unhappy result? It often ends up getting moved aside and pushed back — ultimately leaving you in a bind when the deadline is suddenly bearing down and you’re weeks behind where you’d hoped to be by now.

The best way to avoid the last minute rush? Rather than letting your thesis become the thing you do when don’t have anything else to do, make it your priority by establishing a regular writing routine. Not only will this help keep you on track, but it can also get your brain in the habit of writing. Like any other form of “exercise,” the more you write, the easier it becomes. In fact, in committing to write every day, you’re likely to experience all new levels of productivity.

2. Prioritize Your Productivity
Do you work best in the earlier hours of the morning while it’s still dark outside? Or perhaps you thrive in the wee hours after everyone else has gone to bed? Do you find working in a coffee shop surrounded by hordes of other people invigorating, or do you need a more solitary environment in order to concentrate?

Not everyone finds inspiration in the same environment. Understanding where you find yours is extremely beneficial when it comes to promoting peak productivity. After all, making time to write is only part of the “big picture.” Also critical? Maximizing that time.

3. Keep Your Employer In the Loop
One of the good things about internships is that they’re often designed to accommodate student schedules. In most cases, your employer will be more than happy to work with you to come up with a mutually agreeable work schedule which allows ample time for thesis writing, as well. If you end up in a position where you need to cut back on your internship hours to devote extra time to work on your thesis, open lines of communication are key. Just be upfront in expressing your needs from the start in order to avoid confusion and/or bad feelings in the future.

One additional thing to keep in mind? If you’re planning on continuing to work for your current employer after you graduate, the completion of your thesis — particularly if it’s germane to the work you’re doing — can add to your marketability.

4. Accept Multitasking as a Myth
While much has been made of the benefits of multitasking, a growing body of research not only suggests that doing multiple things at once may not only be all it’s cracked up to be, but may actually lead to decreased productivity.

A recent study from McGill University indicates that in constantly shifting from one task to the next, the body uses up its oxygenated glucose stores — the very same fuel which would otherwise be used to focus. Concludes researcher and professor of behavioral neuroscience Daniel Levitin, “That switching comes with a biological cost that ends up making us feel tired much more quickly than if we sustain attention on one thing.”

While multitasking may no longer be of use to you, something else can be: Scheduling regular 15-minute breaks. Stepping away from your work — whether during your internship or while writing your thesis — can actually help you be more productive, but only if you let your mind truly wander. Just don’t let it wander over to the internet, however, as research also shows that online distractions can be particularly destructive. The takeaway? In order to make the very best of your time, stop checking your social media and shut off all of your automatic notifications.

While it’s easy to think of your internship and master’s thesis as warring entities, the fact is the two can be surprisingly symbiotic. Rather than focusing on how they’re working against each other, shift your mindset to acknowledge what they can help you accomplish together.