The Future of Banking - From FinTech to TechFin

In our data-driven world, the commodization of technology is a driving force behind the financial technology (‘FinTech’) space. Yet, for over 40 years, the mantra “follow the money” has been the traditional brick-and-mortar upon which financial firms stand. With the likes of Uber, Amazon, Samsung, and Ant Financial disrupting the financial services market, it’s time for banks to be ‘data-driven’ or risk falling by the wayside.

While the speed at which Big Data, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are making waves is impressive. It is the increasing number and variety of new entrants into the financial sector making the current period of FinTech stand out. It’s these new entrants, typically non-financial service organizations with customer bases on financial law and regulation, which have set the bar for data-driven businesses in the financial sector.

Loosely known as TechFins, established tech firms entering the world of finance can often be characterized by their ability to leverage data. They’re bridging the gap between immense amounts of data once gathered simply for marketing purposes toward a more customer-centric experience within the frameworks of their primary business and into financial services.

What TechFins Are and Are Not

It may seem logical to assume TechFins are simply an enhancement of FinTechs, but they’re progression is more complex. Rather, it is an entirely new type of market altogether. Originating in the tech space with a focus in e-commerce environments, these organizations are connected to a number of clients both consumers and business. Very often they have blended the roles of marketing and finance within the well of data available to them to enhance their customer experience offerings.

As TechFins grow, their established international networks and the data they already provide to financial services firms may showcase opportunities to offer services directly to their customers. Their ability to reduce transaction costs, provide a more comprehensive dataset, and thereby improve decision making results in increased inclusion for those previously outside the scope of larger institutions. This change in the financial services environment puts SMEs, consumers, and those in the developing and developed world who are struggling on a more even playing field.

In cautionary measures, TechFins may unwittingly put established regulations at risk. For example, discretion over client assets, taking deposits, pooling assets, or simply the solicitation of clients may fall out of the scope of financial service regulations within the TechFin sector creating confusion as to whom the rules apply.

Leveraging Data in the Financial Services Sector

While customers may balk at giving away information in some sectors, they give it freely in the world of TechFin. The value of traditional production is exceeded by the value of data in which data is the new currency. This new valuation creates a pressing need to adequately regulate ‘data intermediaries’ both in the TechFin and the FinTech space to protect current and future customers.

It is a balancing act, according to one thought leader in the digital space, who posits the digital world has the right infrastructure to manage data. But, financial institutions need to reinvent themselves by letting go of distribution through paper channels and moving to distribution of data.

Risk and Reward

Risk analysis from regulatory inquiry reveals systemic risk because TechFin data is essential for a financial institution or if it provides data for several institutions. To guard against leaks, hacks, and other reckless or criminal misuse of data, systemic risk prevention measures must be considered and applied.

For many banking institutions, a data-driven strategy may fall outside their comfort zone. However, many banking leaders understand what’s happening and what needs to happen to lead their institutions in the TechFin space. This includes recommending banks have a strong data management program behind the scenes.

Other thought leaders in the financial services industry know data and analytics insights are the defining piece of the space. They understand the need to map and capture customer’s intended and actual behavior across products and channels to improve the customer experience and design what it is the customer wants.

The sentiment of the changing face of the financial services and tech within the space, may best be defined by Anthony Thompson of Atom Bank who said, “Everything we do will be driven by data. Using data analytics and predictive technologies, we will help customers know what they want before they even think about. We are in the data business as much as we are in the banking business.”

While many thought leaders in the banking and financial industry, understand and are driving the conversation, it’s interesting so many institutions have not found consistent ways to create a data-driven culture. Do you want to help change that?

Take a look at our latest Credit Risk jobs here.

For the East Coast and Mid-West teams please call 212-796-6070, or email

For the West Coast team call 415-614-4999 or email


Harnham blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

Visit our News & Blogs portal or check out our recent posts below.

Download our 2018 US Salary Guide

We are thrilled to announce the release of the 2018 editions of our market-leading Salary Guides for the UK, US and Europe. Having spoken to thousands of Data & Analytics professionals across the globe, we gained invaluable insights into key industry salaries and trends across a wide variety of specialisms and sectors.  Our surveys are created for analysts, by analysts, and offer a detailed, on-the-ground look at what’s concerning talent in the industry. As with the last few years, 2018 has shown us that the data industry continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing, with demand for analysts still easily outstripping supply. You can download our US Salary Guide here, including salary and trend analysis across five key specialisms: Data & Technology, Data Science, Digital Analytics, Marketing & Insight, and Risk Analytics. 


This Monday was Labor Day; a tribute to the American worker. Established over a century ago as the Industrial Age got under way, the holiday was meant to showcase their strength, freedom, and leadership. Now, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution ushers in a new age of robotics, automation, and digitization many workers may wonder how they’ll fit into the new workplace. These concerns are being addressed in a land known for its startup and innovation culture. San Francisco. For 3 days, the city will host an Artificial Intelligence Conference focused on how to use emerging AI techniques in real-world implementations. Will Robots Take My Job? Movies and books tend to offer cautionary tales of problems which might occur if rapid changes go unchecked. It’s unlikely, however, that you’ll find yourself fending off a group of Androids or Terminators any time soon. AI, like all forms of progress, is intended to help improve the quality of human life. Imagine, for a moment, life before washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, and mobile phones. Not only were these items intended to improve lives, but to give people more time for other things like creativity and cognitive thinking. At the AI Conference in San Francisco, Adam Cutler of IBM Design is taking a deeper dive into how human and machine can form meaningful relationships. It is one thing to respond to machines like Alexa or Siri, who are boxes with voices, but what about when there are more Sophias in the world? Sophia is the first ‘robot citizen’ created by Hanson Robotics. She looks, talks, and reasons much like we do. Though repetitive jobs such as manufacturing may be more affected as robots will be able to make things for longer, at a faster pace, there will still need to be oversight. Even here, there will still be a need for humans to make higher level decisions. Humans are able to gauge reactions whereas robots will look only at the data.   How Businesses Can Integrate AI into their Enterprise In the world of startup cultures, AI may be seamlessly integrated and built into the culture or around it, but what about legacy companies? Those who have been following the same patterns for 25, 50, or 100 years? In Taming dragons: a breakthrough approach to AI for business leaders, the discussion focuses on how to implement enterprise AI into businesses. Every new technique we introduce is nuanced and massaged to make the pill of change easier to swallow. But, if we grab for every shiny new toy without fully understanding why we need it and how it can help us improve our bottom line, we risk either misusing it or tossing it aside because it didn’t deliver as promised.  What Can I do to Futureproof My Job and Myself? Ultimately, the key is to always be learning. Understand the deeper changes and effects of AI in the marketplace and figure out where else you might be able to use your skills. Diversify. Get creative. Determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. See if you can’t spin those threats into opportunities.  Technical skills are high priority, of course; computer science, Data Science, and Natural Language Processing are all woven into the tapestry of today’s job market. But, as AI capabilities continue to grow, it’s skills such as communication, creativity, empathy, and leadership where humans will continue to have the edge. Want to learn more and see if we have a role for you? Check out our current vacancies. See where Harnham can take you. For our West Coast team, call (415) 614 4999 or email us at For our Mid-West and East Coast teams, call (212) 796 6070 or email us at

Data Engineers: The Foundation of Your Data Team

Road crews lay the foundational infrastructure of our roads. Foundation plants are the basis on which a local habitat can thrive. But, when it comes to the infrastructure of our data, it’s the Data Engineers who lay the foundation.  As one of the hottest emerging jobs on LinkedIn and around the globe, businesses are now waking to the idea that Data Engineers are key to their teams. Data is now one of a company's most valuable assets, next to people and infrastructure, and Data Engineers are key players who can help your business break away from the competition. Why Data Engineers Are Essential for Your Team Data Engineers are the designers, builders and managers of information. As the value of data has risen, so has their importance, with increased visibility and broader a broader set of skills now sought by employers. The balance between highly technical and soft skills makes finding skilled Data Engineers difficult but critical for businesses.  At the top most level, Data Engineers act as your ‘Chief Problem Solver’. Their understanding of data pipelines’ infrastructure, coupled with familiarity of data sets and programming languages, helps them creatively solve problems.  Armed with a firm grasp and understanding of procedures, standards, algorithms, code, and how they all work together, Data Engineers have a full comprehension of the latest business currency: information. But, to solve problems and run efficient processes, first Data Engineers must build an infrastructure. Here are just a few examples of the myriad of services they can offer: Experimentation: A/B testing and experimentation frameworks are often critical to a company’s analytics and involve a significant Data Engineering component. Sessionization: Pipelines specialized to understand a series of actions in time, allowing analysts to understand user behaviors. Instrumentation: Analytics starts with logging events and attributes related to those events. Data Engineers have vested interests in making sure high quality data is captured upstream. Metric Computation: Frameworks to compute and summarize engagement, growth or segmentation related metrics. Route to the Role of Data Engineer As important as education is on the route to the role of engineer, there are some essential skills you can’t learn in school, such as communication.  It may come as no surprise that technology-centric roles dominate LinkedIn’s top 20 emerging jobs. New Machine Learning and Data Science roles and skills indicate a shift in the types of technology we can expect to be using in the near future, as well as suggesting what professionals should be preparing themselves for.  Data Engineers have grown in visibility and influence as enterprises realize that the future of computing lies with how their underlying data and infrastructure are handled. Like many Digital Analytics roles, demand is high for Data Engineers. Nearly half of all executives surveyed in the U.S. and Europe estimate analytics and Big Data skills will soon be the most important digital capabilities at their companies. Some of the biggest names in business are ramping up their digital recruitment efforts estimating an additional 15 percent growth rate by 2024. If you’re looking for a cutting-edge career in Big Data and analytics, our specialist Data Engineering consultants may have a role for you.  Check out our current vacancies or contact us to learn more. For our West Coast Team, call (415) 614-4999 or email For our Mid-West and East Coast teams call (212) 796 6070 or email

Why A Work-Life Balance is Better for Business

Contrary to sitcoms, work life balance isn’t about sitting in coffee shops contemplating life and complaining about work. However, there are plenty of jobs where you can work from or in a coffee shop. The rise of virtual, remote, and contractual roles has contributed to the demand for work life balance. But, sometimes, in our tech-led world, where business can follow us anywhere, the balance becomes more about setting boundaries. It’s about putting down our mobile phones, closing our laptops, and dipping our toes into other waters.  Where Does Your Country Fit on the Work-Life Balance Scale? European countries have been leading the way with work-life balance for some time, with the Netherlands topping the list at number one. With the US sitting at number 30 out of the 38 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), what’s tipping the scales? 11.4% of Americans work 50 or more hours per week versus 0.5% of people in the Netherlands work those long hours.  The average American is therefore only setting aside 14.4 hours for leisure and personal care (including eating and sleeping) a day versus those in the Netherlands who dedicate 15.9 hours. Countries in the Nordics work a maximum of 48-hours per week. However, the reality is significantly lower, with the Finnish working an average of 36.2 hours a week, the Swedes 35.9 hours, Norwegians at 34 hours, and the Danes just 32 hours..Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland have become renowned for fostering optimal work-life balance. But, though the Netherlands sits at the number one spot on the OECD, the Danes top the list as the happiest in the world. The Danish welfare model, characterized by quality of life and a good work-life balance offers: Flexible working conditions and social support networks, including maternity leave and childcare facilities. A high degree of flexibility at work – often including adaptable start times and the ability to work from home. Lunch breaks are often at a designated time each day, enabling colleagues to interact, eat together, and get away from their desks. There is a minimum 5 weeks’ paid holiday for all wage earners. The Danish welfare society is characterized by quality of life and a good work-life balance. Work-life balance for the Danes is a healthy balance of priorities. As important as career and ambition is, are is just as important to balance life outside work (pleasure, leisure, family, and health). This understanding of balance not only puts Denmark at the top of the international equality table, it also contributes to a generally high standard of living. Further research shows 33% of working American adults work over the weekend and on holidays. This, in turn, has led 66% to say they don’t feel they have a good work-life balance. One of the main drivers contributing to the need to always be “on” and available is 24/7 technology.  For example, if an employer emails, texts, or rings an employee at dinnertime, the employee often feels compelled to answer straightaway. While 57% of those surveyed feel technology has ruined the family dinner, 40% believe it is okay to answer an urgent call or email at the dinner table. So, it comes back to boundaries and not feeling guilty about ‘switching off’ for a few hours or a few days to ‘recharge’. What Companies are Doing to Improve Work-Life Balance  Nordic businesses remain at the top of the list for best work-life balance. Though much of it is dictated by strict Nordic Labor laws, companies outside the Nordics are beginning to take pages from their playbook.  At a business in Helsinki, Finland, employees are encouraged to go home on time at the end of their day. Often this falls around 5:00pm, though leaving earlier to say, go to a child’s sports activity, is always a guilt-free option.  Like many European businesses, employees also receive five weeks of paid vacation each year. Everyone gets stock options and teams are small with the ability to make autonomous decisions. The theory: this team is closest to the project, they know what is best for it. No management approval required, but only to help share in lessons learned. Many Nordic businesses have shortened hours and a focus on family. By putting family first, businesses report improved productivity and innovation, less absenteeism, and reductions in staff turnover. Other benefits can include: The ability to leave work 30-minutes early to pick up kids from school or take them to sports practice The ability to use sick days to take care of sick children Businesses regularly offer gym memberships, event discounts, leadership classes, and team-building exercises as well as opportunities for employees to take courses and further their education. At one business, in Sweden, for example, employees have access to a leisure center and recreational activities such as fishing, tennis, and swimming. Though everyone has their own definition of what work-life balance means to them, it can be difficult to follow without government mandates, like in some European countries, or if you’re a small business. Our UK and Europe Salary Guide showed that, with over 98% of respondents working full time, at least some flexibility is now expected. We found that 53% of respondents work at home at least one day a week, and 56% have flexible working hours, highlighting that these ‘benefits’ are now becoming the norm.  Harnham Life As a business, we try to both reflect, and the lead the way with, developments that we see across the Data & Analytics industry. From ensuring our consultants leave on time two days per week to participate in pursuits outside work, to offering one fully-paid Charity Day per year, we place emphasis on creating an environment where our teams feel like they have a good work-life balance. By building a culture where a consultant can set up a book club or arrange a night out on the town, we have formed a business where employee welfare is prioritized.  Though everyone has their own definition of what work-life balance means to them, it can be difficult to follow without government mandates like in some European countries or if you’re a small business. The important thing is to do what’s right for you and sometimes turn off your phone, close your laptop, and meet up with some family or friends in that coffee shop.  Whether you’re looking for a role with more benefits or a better work-life balance, we can help. 

Recently Viewed jobs