Earlier in my career, I enjoyed several years as an operating executive at financial technology vendors. My focus was always on how to execute on our growth strategies. Through a wide range of markets-served and mission-critical solutions, I learned ways – good and bad – to convert what the growth strategy intended, to the daily details that would realize the growth.
Ten years ago, I started KGA Advisory to serve fintechs, both incumbent and emerging. I’ve applied methods, best-practices, and deliverables to help clients overcome those growth execution frustrations that I had experienced.
Here, then, are the biggest growth execution challenges from the last 10 years, the first 2 of 5. Only a couple are newer…each one of them is still a challenge for most fintech vendors.
1. Capital Markets
Immediate Shift to “Growth with Scale”
Rising interest rates have increased the cost-of-capital for all fintech vendors. They must conserve cash vs. the last decade. Investors demand that businesses create scale, not just expansion.
Most younger products must first prove buyer demand. Sales occur in whichever markets will buy. The result is a couple (or more) deals in multiple markets with multiple product editions.
Vendors must now prioritize their investments. Sales and marketing resources are being spent in several markets, and development occurs on several products. The business is doing too many things that are not repeatable. The rate of cash burn is unacceptable.
Simple, proven methods exist to deal with this challenge. They involve:
- Identifying the combinations of existing / new markets, products, and use-cases that are or could-be the near-term focus, and those that will not be a focus
- Estimating the payoff, effort, and likelihood-to-succeed of each of these potential sources of revenue, to prioritize and phase them over the planning horizon
- Developing focused improvement initiatives to capture the revenue, by phase.
2. Vendor-Vendor Partnering
Easy to Establish, Hard to Get Right
Two vendors coming together to serve a market is not new. However, the pace of innovation via more-recent tech stacks has made it hard for any vendor to cover every buyer need.
Partnering has become more urgent to (1) enhance product capabilities via another vendor’s, and/or (2) accelerate revenue via another vendor’s market access.
Most fintechs portfolio of existing partners is underperforming. Most were put together to enable a single deal. These partnerships become reactive and the value to the FI buyers suffers. Additionally, fintechs look to establish new partnerships and are unclear how to ensure mutual success.
Best practices to overcome these dynamics include:
- Detailing the interests of the partners and the buyers
- Documenting a Partnership Operating Model™ to define what each partner will do to serve the buyers, and
- Defining how the partners manage each other to achieve mutual benefit.
These best practices are implemented for a class of partners, not for each partner. For instance, the same details can apply to all core vendors, merchant processors, or digital banking providers.
In our next blog post we’ll cover the last 3:
- Ecosystem Partnering – Great Promise, Poor Execution
- Buyer Intimacy – Without It, Fintechs Guess
- Whole-Product Design – It’s Not the Software