Moving from a bank to fintech: It's not a get-rich-quick scheme
Rupak Ghose hustled to get into banking. When he graduated from the School of Oriental and Africa Studies (SOAS) in London, he got a job as an equity research analyst at Credit Suisse after a summer internship. Many of the other people on the internship were from the French grandes écoles or from institutions like the London School of Economics. Ghose - who was raised in a single parent family in London - says he stood out for sheer determination. "I was hungry and I really wanted it. I had one shot. At university, I might have slept in late, but on that internship I had a huge work ethic. It was hard work, and it was passion that got me the offer."
Ghose stayed at Credit Suisse for over 12 years. "When I was 24, I had my name on the top of research reports," he recalls. He spent four years covering media stocks and then began covering financials. Ghose was a top-ranked financials analyst, but at the top of his game in 2011, he quit.
Since then, he's done the two things that many people looking for exit routes from banking jobs consider: he's worked in corporate development and he's worked for a fintech. With the benefit of hindsight, he says the banking get-outs aren't as easy as they seem.
"A lot of people think that fintechs are this get-rich-quick scheme," says Ghose. "But it's a lot tougher than they imagine."
Working for a fintech start-up looks glamorous, but it's a hard grind, he says. It's not only that you have fewer support staff and are often on a strict budget, but you have to work harder to get things done. "When you're at a bank with a big name, people return your calls just because of your employer," says Ghose. "You don't get that at a small fintech firm."
When Ghose worked in corporate development, it was for Michael Spencer at ICAP, during a period of intense change. He was head of corporate strategy both for NEX, which was acquired by CME in 2018 and for ICAP, which was acquired by TP in 2017. Ghose was working for Spencer directly and while he has fond memories of the job, it wasn't an easy option: Spencer was a founder, CEO and shareholder and the company was his baby.
However tempting it can seem to sidestep jobs at major banks altogether, Ghose advises against it. A decade at a big bank will set you up for life, he says. It's not just that it pays well and builds wealth, but that it teaches you how to comport yourself: "It's a good training, and you learn from the best. At these institutions, you are surrounded by extremely high quality people who will shape your career."
It's often precisely that network from a major bank that's of interest to a fintech, says Ghose. "The challenge for people moving from banks is what they bring to the start-up table. Do you have relationships? And if you do, are they transferable? Will people still return your calls at a smaller organization? Do you know how to hustle? Succeeding in a fintech is about your network and your ability to take that network outside the major players."
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