Home Fintech Alex Johnson, Creator of Fintech Takes — The Inventive Course of and a Fintech 2023 Fast Hearth | by Andrew Janssens | Wharton FinTech

Alex Johnson, Creator of Fintech Takes — The Inventive Course of and a Fintech 2023 Fast Hearth | by Andrew Janssens | Wharton FinTech

Alex Johnson, Creator of Fintech Takes — The Inventive Course of and a Fintech 2023 Fast Hearth | by Andrew Janssens | Wharton FinTech


In at present’s episode, Andrew Janssens sits down with Alex Johnson, Creator of Fintech Takes, a biweekly e-newsletter bringing considerate takes and deep dives on the trade.

Alex Johnson has been working within the fintech trade for 15+ years and is revered as one of many trade’s most considerate commentators. In addition to publishing Fintech Takes since 2019, Alex has labored at FICO (the credit score scoring bureau), Mercator Advisory Group and Cornerstone Advisors.

Firstly, a particular shout out to Alex for answering our cheeky request to hitch us on the podcast by way of Twitter! In case you don’t observe Alex there, it’s best to.

On this content-packed episode, Andrew and Alex focus on:

  • Whether or not he’s nonetheless writing Fintech Takes as a coping mechanism

“I undoubtedly began the e-newsletter as a coping mechanism. As I stated, I used to be making an attempt to sort of sustain with every part that was taking place in FinTech. And it was simply shifting so quick that I used to be like, “Okay, if I don’t drive myself to have an opinion about all of this information, and new bulletins and new VC rounds which are being raised, and new product launches, and partnerships, like if I don’t drive myself to have an opinion, I received’t be capable of sustain with this.”

In order that was my authentic thought course of for the e-newsletter, it has undoubtedly advanced. I suppose I’ve discovered how to deal with FinTech simply form of naturally, it’s sort of in my DNA, and the rhythm of my week is simply form of maintaining with every part. In order that’s much less difficult for me. And now, I feel my larger problem is to attempt sort of like a VC would, I suppose, form of regularly formulate, after which break down after which construct new hypotheses for a way the market is evolving, proper?

Like, I’m at all times making an attempt to form of at a 30,000 foot stage perceive, , properly, what’s an excellent thesis for what’s taking place over on this area? Or how is that this market evolving? Or like, what are the dynamics right here and going again and going, oh, , I believed this six months in the past, however I feel I used to be fallacious. And right here’s why. And simply continually being sort of introspective and virtually educational about, like a view into the FinTech area and the way it’s evolving. And that’s the place I feel most of my form of psychological vitality nowadays goes and what the aim of the e-newsletter for me is.

  • On the deserves of an out of doors perspective and being prepared to ask the dumb questions

“[I definitely have]an out of doors perspective, proper… I’ve been doing this now by way of the e-newsletter for developing on 4 years, I’ve labored in monetary providers for, , 15 plus years, however I really feel like I’m nonetheless asking a number of dumb questions on how issues work, proper? Like how does this half work and sort of coming up to the mark on that, and on the identical time, coming up to the mark on form of the lifetime of an early stage startup and what that appears like, and among the issues that go on in there — I didn’t know whatOKRs have been for a extremely very long time.

There’s simply these items that you just don’t know, from an out of doors perspective. Similar factor with banks, banks are these fascinating, monolithic firms. And I’ve labored round banks for a very long time. And I really feel like I do know them pretty properly now. However , I went to a neighborhood banking convention earlier this yr, and was simply dazzled by the like, variety of like phrases and acronyms that I used to be like “Oh, my God, I don’t even know what this implies.” So I feel for me, my path in FinTech has been outlined by form of making an attempt to determine it out from the surface.

And I feel there are a number of challenges to that. And positively, in case you learn my e-newsletter record on my podcast, you received’t have any hassle discovering the elements the place it’s like, oh, he doesn’t actually really feel like he is aware of what he’s speaking about there. He appears to have a number of questions on this. However I additionally assume that having that exterior perspective will be useful and might form of make issues extra accessible to others.

And I feel one factor that occurs in FinTech rather a lot is all of us form of fake like we all know every part that everybody is speaking about when actuality is like, we every know most likely one or two issues actually deeply and tremendous properly. And the remainder of it, we’re simply sort of making up and sort of nodding our heads. And so I attempt to be open in regards to the issues that I don’t know and ask dumb questions. And hopefully others get worth out of that.

It’s one thing I discovered really once I was going to varsity and I went to highschool to develop into a trainer. So my background is in schooling. And I scholar taught at an area highschool right here and spent a while within the classroom with bored youngsters who take a look at me like , they hate me and might’t wait to get away. And one factor I discovered doing that’s that there’s a trick to getting individuals to grasp issues are to clarify issues and a giant a part of it’s being weak and saying the issues that you just don’t know we’re going hey, that’s an excellent query. I’m really unsure. So I feel that’s sort of been the defining attribute of my journey and fintech self.

  • The evolution of the Fintech Takes e-newsletter, and why it at all times pays to observe your curiosity

“It’s advanced rather a lot in case you return, and you may nonetheless return to my previous substack, the place my previous posts are, and take a look at those from July 2019 And September 2019. And people are totally different than what I do at present. Proper? Undoubtedly rather a lot rougher, shorter, , and way more simply form of like, it was virtually sort of just like the e-newsletter model of like, quote, tweeting, within the sense that, like, there’d be a chunk of reports and I’d add my prefer to second opinion on high of it. After which I actually wouldn’t like enterprise my opinion, way more than that.

And I feel it most likely took me an excellent six months, possibly sort of experimenting with the e-newsletter initially. And this was, within the days when nobody learn it. I feel my dad and mom have been possibly the one subscribers to it. I wasn’t actually sharing it on LinkedIn or Twitter. And I used to be simply making an attempt to get form of a really feel for like, what’s my voice? What do I wish to say? What’s my distinctive contribution to the FinTech area from a content material perspective?

And what I found out was that, for me, the one issues I’m actually good at writing about are issues that I personally am enthusiastic about. And so I in a short time form of disabused myself of the notion that, hey, FinTech takes goes to be a spot the place we at all times have the most popular take, or we at all times have the most well-liked submit on no matter sizzling subject is occurring proper now. That simply by no means labored for me. And I feel it was as a result of even once I would attempt my hardest to put in writing about, , regardless of the sizzling subject was on the time, like Neobanking three years in the past, or would purchase now pay later began exploiting Purchase now pay later, no matter it was, is that my form of fast takes on these matters that have been extra form of pushed by like a need to get clicks or need to form of be part of the dialog that was taking place on Twitter. They by no means ended up working as a result of I don’t assume my coronary heart was actually in it. And I really feel like one factor that and also you most likely discovered this too on the podcast, too. It’s simply actually exhausting to pretend enthusiasm or curiosity. Proper?

And audiences, possibly if it’s even on form of a unconscious stage can sort of inform while you’re form of phoning that in. And so what I ended up doing and sort of pivoting to with the e-newsletter, and I feel what’s sort of its defining attribute at present is I simply observe my very own pursuits, and I’m sort of a generalist. I’m fairly enthusiastic about a broad vary of various issues inside fintech. However I’ll write about stuff that I shouldn’t have like no viewers for it in any respect proper?

Alex’s lengthy tackle mortgage servicing

Like I did an actual deep dive into the mortgage servicing area, which is horrible and area of interest. And there’s solely like 15 individuals who even perceive the way it works. And like, it’s simply terrible. There’s no motive anybody must be enthusiastic about it. However I form of grew to become fascinated with it as a client and like, the expertise is sort of horrible. And like, why is paying my mortgage so painful, that is ridiculous. And I simply form of saved pulling on that thread and pulling on that thread and pulling on that thread. And I ended up writing a pair items now in regards to the mortgage servicing area and attending to form of dig into that area, I received to know just about all of the FinTech founders who’re constructing within the mortgage servicing area, there’s not many we have now like just a little membership the place all of us get collectively and speak about how horrible our lives are. However like, it’s enjoyable to love, get to fulfill these different individuals.

And, , it was a extremely good piece, and it really carried out rather well. And so what I’ve discovered is to simply form of observe my curiosity wherever it might go. Typically it hits typically it doesn’t. However normally, at a minimal, I stroll away having discovered one thing, and if nobody reads it, nobody cares. However I nonetheless really feel like I discovered one thing. It was an excellent time.

How VCs can really assist promote variety within the fintech ecosystem

Alex describes this because the MOST essential piece he’s ever written— go learn it!

“I’m so glad you requested about this. It’s a very powerful piece I’ve ever written by far. And it principally factors out that the truth of the state of affairs is, in case you’re an individual of colour, otherwise you’re a lady, and also you’re elevating funds to fund an early stage FinTech firm, you principally haven’t any probability in hell of elevating any cash. And significantly in case you’re a lady of colour, like, simply neglect about it, proper?

I imply, like, the stats are so laughably unhealthy, there’s simply no probability you’re gonna be capable of elevate cash. And, , clearly, there are success tales, there are many nice numerous founders on the market who’ve continued by way of this. And so what I needed to put in writing about on this piece was, what was their expertise, like, and to your level, like, I’m a white man, I’ve by no means had any issues with any of these items.

The trade’s been completely accessible to me. And I used to be painfully conscious of that. And so I needed it to slowly be reporting on the experiences of these individuals who’ve not had that have, and who’ve been extra challenged and elevating funds and gaining access to these networks which are so useful inside fintech. They usually shared their experiences with me, I undoubtedly encourage everybody to return and browse that article, it’s nonetheless pinned on the high of my Twitter account, if that’s the best place to search out it. And the purpose of the article was to principally ask, , VCs are at all times saying, , let me know what I can do to be useful. Okay, properly, we are going to let , what are you able to do to truly be useful for founders of colour and feminine founders, when making an attempt to form of break previous this barrier, and really get funding. ”

  • A Fintech Fast fireplace together with Alex’s ideas on:
  • — How rising rates of interest will have an effect on the fintech ecosystem
  • — Why fraud is so prevalent in Fintech
  • — Which Banking-as-a-Service mannequin he expects to do greatest within the subsequent few years
  • and an entire lot extra!

Take a look at the Episode on the platform of your selection right here

Spotify | Soundcloud | Apple Podcasts

About Alex

Alex Johnson publishes Fintech Takes, one of many main newsletters in Fintech, twice every week, and commonly groups up with Jason Mikula (and others) on the month-to-month “Fintech Recap” podcast.

Alex has spent his entire profession in Fintech together with stops at Zoot Enterprises, Mercator Advisory Group, FICO and Cornerstone Advisors.

About Fintech Takes

Fintech Takes is a e-newsletter masking among the most fascinating (and area of interest) matters in Fintech. Every Fintech Takes e-newsletter features a lengthy take (a deep-dive into a particular subject) and three quick takes.

In regards to the Writer

Andrew Janssens is a second-year MBA Candidate at The Wharton College, the place he’s a part of the Wharton FinTech Podcast group. He has a ardour for the nerdy corners of economic providers, enterprise capital, and all issues FinTech. Don’t hesitate to succeed in out with questions, feedback, suggestions, and alternatives at ajanss@wharton.upenn.edu.

As at all times, for extra FinTech insights and alternatives to collaborate, please discover us under:

Wharton FinTech:

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