“Finance needs innovation”, Susanne Chishti, CEO of the Fintech Circle

To give a short personal impression: Let us know what are your top 3 books everyone today needs to read (except your best selling “The FinTech Book”) and top tech gadget one needs to have?

My top 3 books at the moment are:

  • “Originals – How non-conformists move the world” by Adam Grant, a great book which resonates a lot and also encourages me as parent to be inspired by my children’s originality
  • “Reset – My Flight for inclusion and lasting change” by Ellen Pao, a great book about the VC sector in the Silicon Valley. Ellen was brave enough to expose the sexist culture which many women unfortunately still face today in finance.
  • “The Silk Roads – A new History of the World” by Peter Frankopan, an excellent book explaining how power is moving from the West to the East and that China & India will once again take centre stage in global politics and business.

In terms of tech gadgets, I only really need my phone with all the apps such as LinkedIn, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat and Instagram which I use daily.

There has been a lot of media attention lately on the finance industry. How do you estimate the state of the industry – especially the fintech ecosystem?

In terms of fintech ecosystem, it’s booming because finance needs innovation. Banking and Insurance need to be reinvented – to offer better financial services at lower costs. That’s only possible with disruptive innovation, new business models and bold management decisions. We also see lots of demand for fintech education among bank employees. That’s why we launched the FINTECH Circle Institute with more than 30 online fintech courses (all self-paced, 1 hour long) to learn about enterprise innovation & startup methodologies, fintech sub-sectors (such as Wealthtech, Insurtech and Regtech) and how technologies such as Blockchain and artificial intelligence are applied to finance. The Abu Dhabi Global Market Authority has also selected us to conduct fintech trainings in the United Arab Emirates. 

On the 24-25 May we are holding our 1st Blockchain Innovation Bootcamp called Crypto Valley Tours in Zug, Switzerland with the brightest minds in Blockchain and Crypto Assets. I will moderate both days together with the B Academy in Zug. So really looking forward to that – at the end of the day fintech is about personal connections which determine whom you work with going forward.

A lot of traditional companies are struggling to adapt to the rapid changes we witness today. In your opinion, what do you think are the biggest challenges for traditional companies to use the digital transformation? What are the biggest hurdles?

The biggest challenges for financial transformation are mindset, knowledge, relationships and personal agendas. Let me explain:

  1. Mindset: In innovation “big is not beautiful” – big teams, big organisational structures can actually slow or stop innovation altogether. That’s why startups begin with only 1-3 founders normally who are agile, willing to test and to fail and pivot until the find product/market fit
  2. Knowledge about fintech, about what can be done with “off the shelf” technology today is important to appreciate what could be done by combining different technologies to solve real problems. In the past, technology was seen as a cost-center in banking, the CTO would never have become the CEO. However, that’s changing and digital skills will be critical moving forward.
  3. At the end of the day it comes down to relationships. If you are a bank building a  fintech platform, it helps if you know who the best fintech companies are and that those fintech firms see your institution as a reliable partner to prioritise you over other competitors. If you don’t have the relationships of the fintech ecosystem in house, you need to partner with those who have them.
  4. Finally, personal agendas often inhibit innovation. Leaders who retire in 3 years are not likely to overhaul the complete legacy systems and architecture as this would be seen as career suicide. People who don’t like change will find reasons why change is not good. 

What are your Top 3 Do’s and Dont’s for a c-suite, that understands that he or she needs to act soon? 

Top 3 Dos:

  1. Complement your Board with Fintech & Digital Transformation Experts
  2. Have the courage to make bold decisions. If you know that your old legacy architecture (run on COBOL) will make your company go out of business in 10 years time, start doing something about it now.
  3. Take an innovation portfolio approach – work on several innovation activities at the same time and accept that not all work out. 

Top 3 Don’ts:

  1. Don’t delegate innovation to an innovation team but empower the Innovation team to make innovation a responsibility across the organization.
  2. Don’t forget about cultural change. If your culture is slow, risk-averse and prefers the status quo, start changing that.
  3. Don’t assume that innovation will ever be completed. If you stop innovating, you will fall back..

In 2016 you organized the crowdsourced “FinTech Book” and made it to an global best seller. Could you tell us more about your approach and why did you do it?

Anybody who has worked in financial services, knows how much domain expertise is required to understand the different business areas from retail, to corporate to investment banking, insurance, investment management, transaction banking, payments, FX etc. Now add a 2nd axis which is the business model ranging from B2C, B2B, B2B2C or platform based business models. Finally, you can add a 3rd axis in terms of which technology is being used from artificial intelligence to blockchain. Nobody in the world can claim to be an expert in this “fintech cube” across these 3 axis – that’s why we launched The FINTECH Book, crowd-sourcing the best fintech experts from more than 20 countries to provide the first globally comprehensive knowledge on the fintech sector in one volume. We are really pleased that the book has become a global bestseller across 107 countries in 5 languages. You can follow the book on Twitter @TheFINTECHBook to get the latest updates, too.

Subsequent to “The FintTech Book” you publish “The InsurTech Book” and “The WealthTech Book”. What do we have to expect from these books? And where can we order them?

Both The InsurTech Book and The WealthTECH Book offer updates, critical thinking and actionable insight globally from start-ups, incumbents, investors, tech companies, advisors and other partners in this evolving ecosystem.  The InsurTECH Book explains innovation by insurtech firms in detail and enterprise innovation best practise across the insurance sector. The WealthTECH Book is focused on enterprise innovation models for investment managers,and private banks and also showcases the latest fintech tools to reduce costs while increasing performance with higher “alpha”. Finally, we also cover robo-advisory business models and how to empower investment advisors with wealthtech innovation. Business models, value chains, customer engagement and even what Insurance and Investment Management is for, is never going to be the same. Both books can be pre-ordered on Amazon:

 Pre-order The InsurTECH Book:

Order in the UK here

Order in Germany here

Order in the US here

Order in Spain here

Order in France here

Order in Italy here

 Pre-order The WealthTECH Book here


Susanne Chishti, CEO of FINTECH Circle and the FINTECH Circle Institute shares her top books, her passion for financial innovation and insights from The FINTECH Book Series. The new books, the WealthTECH and the InsurTECH Book will be published by Wiley in May 2018. Susanne left her banking career in 2014 to launch FINTECH Circle and the 1st angel network in Europe focused on fintech investments. Within 3 years she has built a platform for more than 120,000 fintech entrepreneurs, investors, financial services professionals and finance visionaries. 

Beginnen Sie Ihr erstes Gespräch mit mir