Culture is as important as tech for creating successful Fintech partnerships

The last decade has seen a shift in hiring philosophies. Talent, skills and experience alone are not enough to make a good employee. How a person fits in with and affects company culture is just as important — if they bring down morale or don’t work to the same values, teamwork, productivity and even profitability can be affected.

This idea of cultural fit is a principle that can be more widely applied and will become more important as partnerships become a core focus for much of the Fintech space. So, other than technology compatibility, what else is needed to build a successful, healthy partnership?

Partnerships in Fintech

According to new research, around half of the UK’s financial services companies plan to increase investment in Fintech through acquisitions and partnerships over the next year. It’s clear that the future of financial services is a mixture of cooperation and competition — no one business will be able to stand alone. While there will be some consolidations, acquisitions won’t always make sense, and simple vendor-customer relationships may not be appropriate either.

Financial service providers will be looking for partners with the right technology, and the ability to integrate and be able to scale. But a good partnership has to be more than a marriage of technology.

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Good partners make good partnerships

A good partnership takes more than just openness and a good relationship, though those are also important. It takes a culture that is dedicated to mutual success. Some of the pillars that support that success will look familiar to any relationship counsellor:

  • Communication — A partner needs to be able to pick up a phone or send an email and know that they will be able to speak to the right person. This isn’t necessarily C-level to C-level, but more that if there is an issue to be addressed, whether big or small, the right people can communicate to resolve it. Being responsive, trustworthy, and approachable is vital — a spirit of openness and honesty is a necessary part of building mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Problem solving — Problems that affect the partnership are owned by the partnership, not just one partner. Challenges have to be faced as a single team, and even if one partner technically has the responsibility, give and take and mutual respect means that solutions can come from anywhere. This is a key difference between a vendor and a partner relationship.
  • Mutual understanding — It’s not always easy for a business to figure out how it will be successful, or even what success looks like. But it’s important that they do, because a good partner needs to understand it too. By understanding the whole business model, that of each partner and the partnership, it’s possible to see where there are gaps, and where these can be filled, whether it’s by technology or people. Access to another business’s understanding and contacts can be an effective way to create a better business.

Aiming for mutual success

True partnerships, those that will thrive, are about working together for the benefit of the customer…even if one of those partners is directly customer-facing. B2B businesses can no longer think about themselves purely in that way — the end-user may never interact directly with their technology, and never even know the partner’s name, but that can’t work both ways. Any partnership has to be focused on the customer, and build their products and functionality around that, not build things and hope for the best.

It’s also important that each partner feels comfortable putting the other in front of prospective clients. They need to be able to say: this is our company, this is our technology, these are our employees, and these are the companies we partner with to ensure success. Partnerships should be used to add credibility, not hidden away because they are merely there to shore up weaker parts of a business.

Ultimately, partnerships need to be about aiming for mutual success. If businesses are simply integrating some technology, or buying a few services from another, this is a vendor relationship and needs to be described as such. Partnerships are driven by a completely different attitude, where businesses are aligned enough to work towards their partner’s future. These are the fruitful relationships that will deliver the future of Fintech.

Written by Alex Reddish, managing director at Tribe Payments

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