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Sorry, but work-life balance is not better in a fintech startup

That people work long hours in banking is well known. It's equally well known that the fintech sector is more accommodating of remote work and innovation. But if you suppose that this means people in fintechs have a better work-life balance, you're badly mistaken. 

During a roundtable for an eFinancialCareers fintech event, attendees dismissed the notion that fintechs are the easy option. Working for one can be more arduous than working for a bank. 

Huy Nguyen Trieu, a former managing director and head of macro structuring who now runs fintech e-learning platform CFTE said that fintechs, especially in the early stage simply, "don't have the resources” to compete with banks on aspects like “9-5 jobs and good salaries.” 

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Shawn Rutter, a headhunter at Excelsior Search, which specialises in fintech placements, agreed that “the working hours can be quite grueling” in a fintech, and said fintech jobs can be pressurized with tight “deadlines for building and deploying.”

Both Rutter and Nguyen Trieu agreed that nobody comes into fintech with an easy life in mind.  The real draw is “working with new technology,” said Rutter. Nguyen Trieu said that the workload “doesn’t mean people hate working for a fintech. They usually love it, that’s the reason why they do it.” 

Not all agree with this, however. At the 2023 Sifted Summit. Louisa Süsserott, head of talent advisory at VC firm Cherry Ventures, says, when working in fintech, she would "typically start around 10:30, then walk the floor at 6:00 and there was nobody in the office." There are a select few roles that are more "intensive", finance departments being a particular slog.

There is a lot of variation between fintechs, even those doing similar things. In a previous court case for the UK's Starling Bank, chief administrative officer Matthew Newman was deemed to value "employees working long hours in the office," and to have criticized Starling's deputy company secretary for "leaving work at the end of her contracted hours.” Rival digibank Atom meanwhile gives its staff Friday's off.


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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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