Upon finishing my Bachelor's, I never imagined I would find myself in the crossroad between the digital lending market and software engineering, with the former being just a part of the broad Fintech domain. I settled into frontend development with no prior knowledge on the tools that I am using today and although it has been only almost one year since I am developing for CardoAI, I would like to share my thoughts and experience on what it means to be a software developer in a Fintech startup.
You will not be able to understand everything at once
There are a lot of business and financial terms that will take time until you are accustomed to and being a developer, you should start to distinguish between different data visualizations and how to best display this 'odd' financial information that you are just starting to learn. However, this is part of the process as you get to immerse yourself in the world of Fintech, so just give it some time because you will not be able to understand everything overnight, even if you possess some previous background on finance and economics.
Ask questions A LOT
Always ask questions. Everyone has distinct learning paths so I do not think there are any wrong questions. Especially when it comes to developing in a rapidly changing market with the latest technologies, you will be judged for not asking questions. I have found pair programming and productive brainstorming sessions for discussing a new requirement to be particularly helpful in sharing knowledge between team members.
Put your customers first
Being part of a startup is a significant experience that provides to the team another mindset on how to approach the product and most importantly: your customers. Customer-Centered Approach is highly emphasized and it is the cornerstone in creating positive and meaningful relationships with your customers. The entire planning process and the development cycle will be adjusted to serve your customers' needs: what they prioritize and what would give them a competitive advantage in the market. Once you start thinking like the customer and once you embrace the product as your own, you will start to identify problems and even hidden opportunities - leading to proactively improving the software without waiting for a customer request.
Challenges will help you grow
A software developer in Fintech should always expect the unexpected. There will be challenges waiting for you at every corner, but this should not demotivate you; quite the contrary, accept the new challenges coming in your way and use them at your advantage as an opportunity to grow. Having to deal with the look and feel of the application, a new challenge may also help you unravel your inner creative spirit and force you to think out of the box.
Being part of a startup in a Fintech environment means that nothing is certain. The market is extremely volatile and everything is changing rapidly. Although a software developer would not necessarily be interested in the business side of doing things, in this case I think that the involvement of the tech team in better understanding the business requirements is one of the greatest strengths a startup could have. As we recognize this constant change in the Fintech domain, we as developers are one step ahead to deliver highly demanded features and perceive the importance of them by putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers. Flying Airplanes While We Build Them - the catchphrase of CardoAI best summarizes the challenging environment we face.
Nevertheless, as in any industry there will be opportunities to capitalize on and also challenges waiting to overcome. Most of the things, as a developer, will be learned through the 'hands-on' approach, however there are gaps that could have been filled if the universities prepared their students better on what to expect upon graduating. In my opinion, it is important that the curricula is updated and adapted around the latest technologies most companies are working with, as well as making general financial and accounting courses compulsory for engineering degrees.
Having said that, newcomers should not be frightened to join, quite the contrary, there are plenty of chances to learn and even with limited knowledge and skills there will always be people willing to help.