If you’re looking for a way to build a career in fintech and to actually succeed rather than becoming one of the many entrepreneurs who end up working 80 hour weeks for almost nothing, J.P. Morgan has got a few pointers.
Euromoney says the U.S. bank has chosen to sponsor six out of 400 companies who applied for its in-residence fintech program in London, managed by Oli Harris (a former Accenture consultant and employee of Tony Blair). Of those, Euromoney names three: H4Documents, Mosaic Smart Data, and Droit Technologies.
Now, the founders of these companies have one very important thing in common: they all worked in investment banks themselves. And they weren’t all technologists.
Joe Seifert, the CEO and co-founder of H4 was a former equity and debt capital markets banker at J.P. Morgan before moving into private equity and then fintech. His co-founder Nick Harrold is another ex-J.P.M DCM banker. Only the CTO (and co-founder) Dusko Jordanovski is a technologist.
Matthew Hodgson, the founder and CEO of Mosaic was a former Yen trader at Salomon Brothers (now Citi), then a rates salesman at Deutsche, then global head of Deutsche’s rates platform and FICC data strategy.
And Satya Pemmaraju, co-founder and CEO of Droit, is a former MD of fixed income currencies and commodities trading at UBS, while his co-founder, Brock Arnason is a former executive director in fixed income e-commerce at Morgan Stanley.
If you want to set up a fintech firm that gets sponsored by J.P. Morgan, therefore, it seems that you need to work in a bank first. You can’t go straight to fintech. You have to pass go and do your years in finance (and you can’t just quit at analyst or associate level, all these people were very senior).
Most importantly though, J.P. Morgan’s founders suggest you can set up a successful fintech firm if you’ve been in sales, or trading or IBD. You don’t need to start in tech. In fact, based on these examples, have a pure tech career with no banking experience won’t get you far when you go to a bank looking for sponsor money.