• Hannah Duncan

Building a fintech? Prepare for the stress of managing a team

Building a fintech is seriously stressful, that’s according to a survey of 32 founders conducted by me (yay!).


Over Winter 2021-22, I quizzed as many genuine fintech founders as I could find to see what life is really like. It turns out that managing a team is one of the greatest stresses.


“Getting the right team together” is the most stressful part


Of all the many stresses, the most intense of all was, “getting the right team together”.


One fintech founder also added the category, “motivating the team”. And another contributed with “co-founder challenges”. Which seem to broadly fall into the same monumental stress field.


I’ve noticed this a lot too. There is always a shortage of talented and passionate people who are willing to work for start-up salaries. If you want to be a fintech founder, it seems that you’ve got to be prepared for some real talent-related headaches!


“More people, more problems, you've just got to make sure you have the right people working with you” - Anonymous fintech founder

Having to let go of employees is one of the toughest parts of the job


On the flip side of finding the right team, comes the unenviable task of firing people who are not up to the job.


Many fintech founders reported this as the most horrible bit of the journey. Here were some of the answers:


What’s been the toughest moment so far?

  • “Make people redundant”

  • “Sack employee number 1”

  • “Let go of employees (rare but when it happens it's not very nice)”

  • “Let people go who weren't right for the team”

One founder specifically picked out that firing a mate was the most painful thing they had to do.


“Letting go of friends where the role has outgrown them”, - Anonymous fintech founder.

This is probably something to consider if you plan on hiring your buddies!




… And some employees can be a royal pain in the arse!


One very grumpy participant had this to say,


Most employees now have an unhealthy sense of entitlement, and that is not restricted to a particular generation. The grass is not always greener (as some moaners have found out)”.

This reminds me so much of my grandad. And I bet it’s true.


Something I’ve always been super interested in, is why so many narcissists seem to be attracted to fintech. You do get quite a lot of Elizabeth-Holmes type people (side note: I can’t believe she’s still walking free!). They are really good at bullsh**ting.


One of the founders brought this up too.

Just because someone speaks with confidence, doesn't mean they are right or even know what they are talking about”, they typed. “It's just one perspective, and you need multiple to get a clearer answer to your questions”.

I like this a lot! It’s a good life lesson! Speaking of which…


Fintech founders explain their best life lessons about people…


Fintech founders have picked up some good life lessons on their journey, and many of them are about managing teams or dealing with people.


Here are some of my favourite pearls of wisdom:

👉 “Having people who believe in the mission and the product is critical”.
👉 “Team is everything and making them feel valued is crucial. Agency work can help get you part of the way but having the right resources in house is in-valuable”.
👉 “Don't be arrogant; accept you can learn every day from people around you even if you've done it before”.
Go Team!

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