Following the forming of the Fintech & Payments Advisory Network (TFPA), a venture created by veterans in Fintech and Payments, we spoke to Roger Bracken, one of the group’s Founding Partners, on the firm’s significance within the payment ecosystem.
Payment Expert: Firstly, can you tell us more about what led to the formation of the TFPA?
Roger Bracken: The six Founding Partners have met and supported some high growth fintech’s in recent years to commercialise. These organisations have seen problems in the industry and found a better way of solving them than incumbent companies, often delivering far better solutions with cloud technology at a fraction of the cost of legacy players. They’ve offered greater flexibility, easier integration and brought faster speed to market. However, many have assumed that their technology will sell itself and the prospective client will figure out how best to make use of their capability.
They’ve often underinvested in sales and marketing and haven’t thought through their value proposition and made their technology easy to ingest for their target customers. Often as a new/emerging business it’s difficult to know where to start, which market segments will be most receptive and it’s easy to be too optimistic on the length of sales cycles with enterprise clients. As a collective, we formed TFPA to help scaling fintech address these challenges and fill a gap in the market.
The TFPA team also includes people who have been on the client side at the most senior levels. This enables us to provide input on direction and challenge thinking as it will be challenged by the market. This adds invaluable insight to the process of developing genuine client empathy.
PE: Does the TFPA underline the importance of collaboration within the industry as it continues to grow?
RB: It does. One of the things we often spot is the opportunity for a fintech to augment a larger, more established player and for the fintech to leverage the scale, distribution and brand of the incumbent, while it brings a game-changing solution to the incumbent.
We pride ourselves in supporting businesses to unlock these kinds of collaborations, and thereby helping industry players to join the dots. Our experience of having worked for and developed successful commercial relationships with enterprise scale clients is something that can add real value to a fintech in establishing these relationships and navigating this world. It’s a major step up for many of them, and sometimes the first time they have experienced the cycles, processes and complexities of companies of that scale. Our experience helps lower the barriers to successful market entry and mitigate the risk of expensive mistakes.
PE: From the outset of the formation of the group, can you tell us some of the key priorities?
RB: We’ve focused on bringing our skills and expertise in the strategy, sales and marketing, and enterprise selling space to scaling fintechs. We also focus on the practical side of entering new geo’s, something the Partners have all experienced in small, medium and large businesses before. We have found a rich seam helping our clients move across the Atlantic and into Europe, which is a real strength for us as we have Partners on both sides of the pond.
Our connections also help us assist companies in attracting and meeting potential sources of funding, where we can support and guide our clients through the expectations of the various funding organisations, and how best to present the case for their own business. Our network of service providers from recruiters to marketing firms means that we unleash the know-how to breakthrough at pace.
PE: How crucial is it going to be to the continued growth of fintech to tap into some of the gaps in the market and build on experience?
RB: This will remain very important in a relatively new but high growth sector. We are still at the early stages of a fascinating journey of opening up the financial services sector and defining financial interoperability globally by digitising our financial lives. Finding pure whitespace is hard but reengineering existing value chains and applying new ideas to these value chains is also a great way of creating a new market.
As an example, we are only at the start of blockchain technology being deployed to reengineer our financial infrastructure. Leveraging the experience of others is key to accelerating adoption and building a client base quickly. What is also fascinating is the number of companies looking at innovative ways to solve existing problems currently addressed by products that are perhaps outdated and outmoded; so though not exactly white space, we do see this innovation creating its own space in an existing framework; for example the use of AI and ML to build better, more agile, cloud-based fraud and risk systems.
The move away from legacy systems is a challenge for the industry and one that creates significant opportunity. The global experience of our team helps our clients develop effective GTM programmes established around a clear and concise value proportion that engages prospects and focuses activity in the most effective way.
PE: What are some of the key projects that the group will be undertaking?
RB: We’ve worked with a range of fintechs, some at an earlier stage and others with more funding and momentum. They’ve been based across Europe and the US. We’ve worked with a great Cards as a Service business on internationalisation, we are supporting a wonderful fintech front and back-office outsourcer enter Europe, we are bringing a powerful availability insight tool for payment gateways to Europe as well and we are helping a European Immediate Payment business build and execute a global go to market plan, which includes enterprise partnerships.
Interestingly, through the breadth and depth of our associate network, we have also been approached to help our clients understand the demands of regulators in some markets and assist them in developing the knowledge to make decisions about how best to engage.
We are also supporting the investment community. Payments and fintech is an area investors are seeking to engage with. Our team can help them understand the potential of companies, as well as some of the pitfalls that are only obvious after many years operating within the industry.
PE: The fintech sector has endured a period of relative toughness, what can be done to ensure it maintains growth and progress?
RB: Valuations have dropped dramatically in both the public markets and private markets. Funding has tightened as a consequence but there is still plenty of capital available from the investor community for good businesses.
For B2B businesses, getting to revenue, building ARR and showing a solid path to profitability is even more critical than ever. Being able to articulate what you do in a simple and digestible way for the investment community is also important. If the sector focuses on these items it will be well-placed when the capital markets swing back.
PE: Tell us more about the steps that were taken when deciding upon partnerships for the group?
RB: The partners bring a broad network across fintech and payments so adding partnerships that are accretive is usually straightforward. We have some strategic relationships in the investment community, the payments industry and in fintech and are also happy to extend that to support a client opportunity or meet an emerging need.
We also see synergies with some of the Fintech firms we have supported to join forces to create a more holistic capability faster. This is where M&A advice has evolved in our offering along with advisory roles on boards. And finally we have a trusted network of recommended professional services companies from compliance to marketing and recruitment that we can bring with us as part of helping companies to break into new markets.