On Episode 3 of The Disruptive Mindset Podcast we had the pleasure of sitting down with Panagiotis Kriaris, the Head of Business Development at Unzer. He’s had a fantastic career, starting off in banking and then moving across to the FinTech industry. With a deep understanding of the relationship between technology, this is a man who works hard and plays hard, in business and sport. We picked his brain about the state of the FinTech industry and his insights into its future. Read on for some of the highlights from our conversation! 

Within the industry there’s been a slowdown, like somebody has turned the tap off overnight. What’s your perspective on that?  

We are living in maybe the most challenging macro situation of incineration in the UK. I think this is influencing not only the FinTech space and financial services, but everything in general. The whole economy is affected. Now, you could say that this is something that was done overnight, or that was not expected, or that was taking place in a short amount of time, because the industry has been experiencing a boom. The only way seemed to be up, right? And then all of a sudden, you have a pandemic. After the pandemic, you have the adjustment, which is causing some problems, and all of a sudden you have a war, then you have inflation. If you had tried to describe to somebody a couple of years ago that you would have a global pandemic so nobody would be able to go out, you would have inflation to double digit numbers, you would have a war in Europe, they wouldn’t believe you. Despite that it’s still happening and it’s influencing all sides of the economy, including FinTech.  

We are now experiencing a sort of a period whereby you have to go back to the basics. When you go back to the fundamentals, growth still remains a factor. Profitability and sustainability for companies has now become much more important, whereas financing is much more selective. On the other hand, that’s a challenge for everybody. For the companies who have a sustainable and viable plan, they might benefit from this, but it goes without saying that within this journey, or within these chains, a lot of companies are going to go out of business. Companies might have to change the planning, or they might have to pivot, as we say, but at the end of the day, that’s something that you cannot do a lot about. The only thing that you can do is to adjust to the new reality. It’s not the strongest that are going to survive, but the ones that are most able to adjust. I think that’s what the industry has been experiencing over the past months. 

What advice would you give a company or candidate, looking at the road ahead? 

If you look at companies, the challenge now is to look at their business model and try to understand if this is a fit for what they’re now experiencing. It might have an effect a couple of years from now, or it might have been affected during the pandemic, but might not be fit for right now. The question is, how long can you survive without changing your model? How can you change your metrics from from a growth based approach to a profitability based approach? Many of the things that you would do to expand or add other products or segments might have to take a backseat at some point. So I think this is a point where you have to review your plan, your strategy, your clients and your product. Now you’re sitting in a very different macroeconomic situation, and we don’t know if this is going to last. Decide what kind of changes are needed for you to make progress, then at some point, you’re gonna have to make decisions that are not easy. You might have to restructure. It’s going to affect the employees. You’re seeing many companies that are laying off people because they don’t need them anymore, or they cannot afford having the same codebase as they used to have before.  

Now, on a personal level, this is also something that one has to take into account when considering a change. On the one hand, it might be a bit more risky because the macro situation has changed, so there is no guarantee that things are going to continue going up. The option of going down now is a real one. Of course on the other hand, you have opportunities, right? For some people the crisis might be the trigger that they were missing to jump and to change places, because they have maybe been thinking of doing something or seeing an opportunity in a certain segment, but they have always been very reluctant in taking certain initiatives. The crisis might be the trigger that they needed to do something that otherwise they might not want to do. It depends a lot on the personal situation, but that might be one of the considerations happening right now. 

What’s going to take your energy moving forward for the next year? Where are you going to focus? 

I spend my days solving problems. It might be something that came up as a challenge or that it’s not working well, and somebody has to deal with it. You take up the job, or let’s say you take up an initiative, or you might want to start on a new product, or a new service for a segment that is not addressed by the company right now. It’s about solving a problem for the company, right? At the end of the day, it’s how you look at it, but for me, it’s mainly about improving things and addressing pain points. It can be on a macro level such as the changing economy, or it can be on a micro level such as a process in your company. If you spot something that needs improvement, you need to take action. It might be something that is not working on a bigger scale. I am doing my best as far as I can to influence things, but I usually don’t worry about things that I cannot make sense of. Let’s say you’re spending energy and resources on something that is fine, right? If you’re trying to hit a wall that is not moving, then you’d better realise that it’s a wall. Then you can go and spend your resources and energy on something that you can impact. Go and open a door instead. If you don’t have a key, you just have to look for the key. Solve the problem.  

To hear more of Panagiotis Kriaris’s insights into the current state of the FinTech industry, tune into the full episode of The Disruptive Mindset Podcast on Spotify here and Apple Podcast here 

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