Banking heavyweights jump ship to fintech

Digital banking is providing a fertile ground for fintech start-ups Keystone

Marco Abele is one of a growing number of finance professionals to leave a cushy job in the traditional banking world to try his hand at fintech. What makes him a bit different is the high-ranking role he left behind: Chief Digital Officer at Credit Suisse.

Abele has founded the Tend start-up to better allow passion investors to indulge in their luxury desires. 

He follows Oliver Bussmann, former Chief Information Officer at UBS and now head of his own consultancy and President of the Crypto Valley Association, as a big-name defection to the choppier waters of fintech.

“A lot of senior and very experienced banking managers are thinking: ‘Let me go out and try it’,” Abele told swissinfo.ch. “Ten years ago, that was unthinkable, but now we have a very nice environment where they can try their luck. They want to live a more purposeful life. They don’t want to work just for money anymore, they want more fulfilment.”

Part of the appeal of fintech is the feeling that a new idea could have a profound impact in a short period of time.

Another attraction is escaping the constraints of the slow-moving, highly structured environment of big banks – some of whom may be fearful of perceived negative regulatory consequences of moving outside their comfort zone. 

Hardly any Swiss bank will have anything to do with cryptocurrencies, for example. Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam recently called bitcoin the “very definition of a bubble”. He added: “Most banks in the current state of regulation have little or no appetite to get involved in a currency which has such anti-money laundering challenges.”

Fintechs are hiring from both the worlds of technology and finance at pace. And Abele thinks they will attract more big names from established banks: “There will be more to follow, I am sure.”

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