This week we had the pleasure to interview Janos Barberis (CFTE Boardmember). A Millennial in FinTech, Janos is recognized as a top-35 global FinTech leader by Institutional Investor Magazine. His expertise, developed with his PhD at HKU, is focused on looking at the best approach to regulate technology in finance whether delivered by start-ups, traditional banks or tech companies. He has founded 3 ventures to date: SuperCharger (Fintech Accelerator), FinTech Book (Publication) and FinTech HK (Research).
His wide field of expertise and wealth of experience across multiple disciplines puts Janos in a very small group of individuals who have a 360 perspective of Fintech disruption.
The Expert Perspective with Janos Barberis
As a respected leader, how do you see finance in 10 years?
It is hard to project 10 years into the future. Truth is technology can greatly accelerate the inflection point. For example, I recently moved to Austria and ordered myself a Revolut card while in the kitchen. The point here is that it was a very natural behaviour, which three years ago I would have found incredible. Now I take it for granted.
In 10 years I expect banks to still exist, from my perspective a bank is simply a name given as a result of performing a specific activity (i.e., deposit taking) therefore if tech firms (i.e., Amazon, Alibaba) or start-ups (i.e. Neat, Loot, etc.) start performing this they will be classified as bank. Le Roi et Mort, Vive le Roi.
A company you like in Fintech?
If I can only choose one company, I would say Neat. It was the first company that joined SuperCharger; I love everything from the vision of the team to the actual solution they provide. They have an SME Business solution, which I opened remotely in 10min.
Now that corporate account is used to run the company, and each of our team members has their expense card. It’s incredibly useful especially when you need to do your accounts & audits – all receipts and transactions are matched – it saves use one month of account reconciliation at least. Huy wrote an interesting article on the topic in his latest blog post and more recently highlighted the issue once more here.
Your best advice for someone working in the finance industry: how do they start to build their Fintech skillset?
I have a different background in the sense that I’m doing my PhD at university and running SuperCharger, therefore, I do not have a corporate experience per say. I would say, don’t join a start-up if you want to learn new skills. It will be a difficult re-adjustment for you and the start-up.
Instead, consider mentoring a start-up for six months+. You will learn by proxy this way. However, if you want to build a start-up yourself, then don’t wait and go for it. Reality is that most likely you will make mistakes, so make them early, learn and adjust…. along the way find people that wish to “pay-forward” and that are giving back because they themselves received help when they started.
Advice to a 20-year-old who wants to be in Finance?
I am very passionate about this, the average age of the SuperCharger team is 23 years old, and it’s often a discussion I have when new team members join. As a 20-year-old, you should still have one year to go until your graduation for the bachelor – therefore to pay for your university you have two choices: work in at Starbucks or in a Start-up. In both cases, you should have flexibility and salary won’t be amazing. However, in the start-up, you will learn much more and if you like it, most likely land your first job after graduation. If you don’t like the experience while at uni, then join the corporate.
However irrespective of your path (start-up or corporate) you need to know that the industry is changing. A lot of people working in traditional corporates from banking to consulting are themselves looking at what to do next. You need to understand what their position: the industry is changing and they need to develop the new skills for finance 2.0.
Could you share an interesting article, piece of content, blog post you have read recently? Why did you choose it?
I still believe that the Economist special report on Data in the New Oil is a fascinating read. In terms of HKU, I would pick the future of regulation is found at the intersection of Financial Regulation co-written with Prof Douglas W. Arner and Prof Ross P. Buckley.
The focus here is really on digital identity and data management. Today the large tech companies have understood how to extract value from data but the lack of clear property rights constricts market development and thus the benefits that could potentially accrue to individuals (beyond the convenience of service). However, GDPR is opening a door, let see what happens.
A source of knowledge for our readers that would help them on their journey to adapting to Fintech disruption?
I will be very biased on the content side, CFTE has brought together a number of high-quality experts who are doing great things, here’s are some highlights:
- White Paper: The KPMG Pulse of FinTech quarterly reports are very number driven but gives an excellent executive summary of global trends. Otherwise, the research report published by Citi and their research lead, Ronit Ghose (CFTE Board member), is great
- Book: The FinTech Book– mainly because its the overview of knowledge of 60 experts globally
- Blog: The Disruptive Finance Blog– a lot of Huy’s analysis remain pertinent today, especially the notion of Hyperscalability and the change happening in insurance
- Academic: SSRN is a useful resource for academic paper – a simple search for FinTech or Regtech will give a series of papers