Speaking on a panel at the Intersekt fintech festival in Melbourne on Friday, Mr Smith – who is now chairman of tech incubator York Butter Factory – advised fintech founders to aim high in fostering relationships with the major institutions.
“Look for a visionary in senior leadership and decision maker,” Mr Smith advised. “If you’re in the machine, you’ll be in the machine forever.”
Banks are willing and able to change their behaviour and senior executives are looking to fintech innovators to help them transition to more customer-centric organisations, the former banker said.
FinTech Australia chairman and panel moderator Simon Cant commented that start-ups can often find themselves in either “rapids” or “eddies” when working with banks, meaning they are either escalating very quickly with bank assistance or wading through unproductive bureaucracy.
“Eddie’s not a good guy,” Mr Smith quipped in agreement.
Venture capital investor James Cameron of AirTree concurred that targeted pitching is important when collaborating with banks.
“You need to have the right person opening the door,” he said.