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Who should be the CEO of a fintech startup? Finance expert, Technology expert or not an expert?

Over the past few months, I’ve been reading and interacting with a lot of fintech startups. It is indeed an interesting and fascinating space, with so many innovations and disruptions which have the potential to transform the world of payments and create new paradigms of experiences. Since human behavior and leadership fascinate me a great deal, I always tend to be curious about the CEO of a fintech startup. I tend to read up about Who are they? Where do they come from? How did they get these uber cool ideas? What is their big dream and goal for their idea? I'm always left with an insightful perspective and phenomenal learning! 

Many times, I wonder and ponder on “Who should be the CEO of a fintech startup? The finance expert, the technology expert or not an expert?” A million dollar question, you'd think? 

One school of thought opines that the financial services business and industry is complex, rapidly evolving and multi-disciplinary. Hence an in-depth understanding of the industry, coupled with knowledge and experience is key to even make in-roads into this space. And perhaps rightly so! 

A second school of thought suggests that technology is king in today's era. No matter what industry, it is but technology which makes things happen today, so if you don't know how to make technology work for you, how to use technology to solve your business problems, how to leverage the power of technology to create unparalleled customer experiences, there is nothing a finance expert can truly do in today's day and age. Again, perhaps rightly so!

Edword de Bono put it well when he said "An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgements simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore." I agree.

The only issue I have had in my personal interaction with finance and technology experts is that many times they pay attention to what should be ignored and ignore what needs attention. Agreed that they are experts in specific subjects, and due respects for that.

BUT does that necessairly mean that they are experts in running a startup? Obviously NO. Running a fintech startup needs more than expertise. It needs an idea, a passion to turn that idea to reality against all odds, and most importantly it means believing in power of the team rather than the knowledge and expertise of an individual - which truly boils down to the question "How great a leader are you, and not how much of an expert are you?"

As I sign-off, I leave you with a few words of wisdom..

“When you start a company, it's more an art than a science because it's totally unknown. Instead of solving high-profile problems, try to solve something that's deeply personal to you. Ideally, if you're an ordinary person and you've just solved your problem, you might have solved the problem for millions of people.” Brian Chesky, Airbnb.

Honestly, I don't know if the finance and technology experts are wired to think like this. So, would love to hear your thoughts on Who should be the CEO of a fintech startup? The finance expert, the technology expert or not an expert? Leave a comment to let me know..

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Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 07 October, 2015, 09:34Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes I think it is not more about the type of expert (technology / finance) but more about the vision and the consistant dedication to realise a dream. I find in general people who does not have the expertise in the specific topic tend to be more daring and challenging the status quo and this is distruptive.
A Finextra member
A Finextra member 09 October, 2015, 16:41Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

A wave, It will just pass! 

Nischala Murthy Kaushik
Nischala Murthy Kaushik - Wipro Ltd. - Noida 24 October, 2015, 03:20Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Amru - Yes the dream, the passion and risk taking appetite are important.. But I find in the fintech space - there is a need for understanding the market because it is a lot more complex... Just a big dream with no real execution plan will take longer to operationalize - unless you have unlimited funds, which is rare in today's day and age.. There is little time for trial and error.. since things are changing so rapidly..