GET women boardroom

In celebration of International Women’s Day, editor Joy Macknight surveyed six female CEOs about the state of the fintech operating environment and how to navigate the challenges ahead.

The past year was a tough environment for the global fintech community due to rising interest rates, high inflation and turbulence in the crypto market. According to KPMG’s Pulse of Fintech report, the global fintech market attracted just $164.1bn across 6006 deals in 2022 — a 31.3% fall compared to 2021.

However, 2022 was not a poor year overall. KPMG reports that it was the third-best year for fintech investment ever and the second-strongest year for deal volume. Areas such as paytech and regtech generated a lot of investment interest, with the latter being the only sector to buck the downward trend.

In terms of regional growth, Asia-Pacific climbed to a record high of $50.5bn in 2022. However, Europe, the Middle East and Africa saw the largest decline in fintech funding year-on-year.

For Iana Dimitrova, CEO of banking-as-a-service platform OpenPayd, one of the six women fintech CEOs who participated in our recent virtual roundtable, 2022 was “sobering and refreshing”, but also an opportunity to redefine what success looks like. “For many fintechs, this is their first experience of a restrained venture capitalist environment,” she says. “The fintechs that are going to do well this year are those with strong fundamentals and the agility to adapt quickly to changing market conditions.”

“Undeniably, 2022 was tough, with challenges ranging from team morale through to fundraising,” says Catherine Parry, founder and CEO of compliance chat solution DeepView. “However, persistence and the determination of everyone in the team paid off, and I’m delighted to say we are now thriving.”

In addition to the tightened funding environment, the cohort identified talent acquisition and management as a major challenge for fintechs. As Diana Paredes, CEO at regtech firm, Suade, says: “Engaging with and hiring the best talent is, and has always been, a priority at Suade. We are keen on bringing in the right people, at the right time of growth, to be part of our exciting journey.” She sees the upcoming downturn as a great opportunity to attract top talent from the market.

Gabrielle Patrick, CEO and general counsel, Knabu, a blockchain company building new clearing infrastructure, emphasises the importance of the whole people ecosystem. “Having the right people, customers and backers at the right time in the organisation, who are a balance of integrity, experience, creativity and flexibility, remains a challenge, especially for fast-growing businesses,” she says.

While sourcing talent is a common challenge, many have successfully built out their teams in the past year. In response to a huge increase in demand from borrowers and investors, CapitalRise, an online platform for prime property lending and investing, made new hires across its lending, marketing, product and investor relations teams — “a 22% increase in the number of employees”, reports Uma Rajah, founder and CEO.

Despite the tough environment that many believe will continue in 2023, the women were optimistic about their business plans in the coming year. For example, Marina Goche, CEO, Sentifi, an alternative data analytics provider, plans to “continue to address key financial market problems for both institutional and retail investors, including the need to stay ahead of market rallies and crashes, the lack of transparency around risk in digital assets and the inability to assess environmental, social and governance performance dynamically.”

To read the full roundtable, please click here.


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