How to position yourself as a FinTech ninja?

A field full of opportunities

It is exciting to work with fintech: new business models appear, IT specialists climb up the ladder to join management committees, more people get access to user-friendly financial products, and apps really work. A new generation is realising that the financial world is important to and influences all of us, and a range of people are getting involved in banking who you wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Exactly 10 years after the financial crisis, there is a growing intolerance of large banks, which since 2008 have shelled out more than $300 billion in fines as compensation for breaching regulations, and another $200 billion on consultants to ‘rediscover’ the role of the bank. Yet until now the status quo has been maintained, and there has been no real change; inspiration sprints disappear without being followed up and disruption features on the ExCo agenda, so where is the real change?

Researcher Tine Holvoet has devised playful labels — BANKER, TECH, HYPE and NINJA — which challenge both traditional bankers and not-so-typical financial professionals to take a position in the financial sector. These labels help to critically react and focus on interactions between banks, fintech start-ups, supervisory bodies and end users.

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Today, masterplans such as PSD II, MiFID II/MiFIR and GDPR have been implemented to open up the financial industry to competition, and to make citizens aware of their rights. Open API opportunities ensure new products and services are developed in co-creation. From this perspective, supervisory bodies and traditional bankers are the first to explicitly state that no challenge is mono-disciplinary. They have invited new parties to the fintech table.
SUPERPOWER: creating a platform for complementary innovation.


We can speak of two different tribes: Suits and Jeans. Bankers fly business class to the next digital symposium, while those in TECH travel with Ryanair. These TECHIES call themselves ‘researchers’, wear hoodies and share pizzas. And while BANKERS are juggling with financial discounts, they are playing with lots of ‘swag' and ‘bug bounties’.
SUPERPOWER: in-depth analysis and make-it-work applications.


The HYPE label pulls in new people. This type of person is also typically involved in other hypes, such as the internet bubble, cleantech, regtech, edtech, etc. As managers rather than experts, they tend to make links between BANKER and TECH. By simplifying both sorts of jargon, and vulgarising it, they make fintech tangible and sexy.
SUPERPOWER: catalysing mutual challenges and stimulating interest from investors.


BANKER, TECH and HYPE can develop into true fintech NINJAs. Whoever takes up the role of NINJA feels emboldened to take collective action. NINJAs courageously break away from so-called ‘legacy’ banking, thus helping to overcome the main challenges.
SUPERPOWER: achieving engagement and sustainable solutions.

Keys to successful collaboration

By analysing the collaboration between these groups, one skill emerges as particularly important: the ability to speak each other’s language, cutting through acronyms and jargon. Since 2016 we have tested these labels in fintech boot camps at Vlerick Business School. The labels were designed to symbolise personal and meaningful positions. The poetry that is hidden behind BANKER, TECH, HYPE and NINJA helps those working in financial services find a new sense of pride. Together with more than 150 Master’s and MBA students, we have zoomed in on the new profiles that the emerging fintech ecosystem is generating. Many of these students can’t wait to start realising real change.

Tine Holvoet is valued for her multidisciplinary approach. She focuses on innovation and disruption. Tine believes that finance must be an invisible and integrated service, offered by global, cross-industrial ecosystem players, where financial inclusion is crucial. She teaches entrepreneurship & key financials to a wide range of people, from social designers to music producers. Tine sits on the board of FinTech Belgium.

Discover our expertise in financial services

Want to know more on what we can offer you on financial services? Because the financial services industry is multi-faceted, our Vlerick Centre for Financial Services adopts a broad approach. We connect closely with different industry players – from banking to insurance and market infrastructure – and cover a broad range of management domains – from financial management and regulatory compliance to business and operations management and FinTech. 

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