Vasyl Soloshchuk
12 March 2019

An ABC Book of CTO Challenges

In most cases, the general opinion on what aspects of a project the CTO should be responsible for is… everything. Phew! Surely you shouldn’t be writing the code yourself or adjusting the infrastructure. But you have to manage and review every single process in a startup. It’s little wonder that the problems a CTO faces could form their own encyclopedia. We have come up with an “ABC” of the top problems bothering CTOs. Interested? Here we go.

Talent Acquisition

Talent AcquisitionFinTech is evolving too dynamically for slow-paced learners, as well as those that aren’t proficient in cutting-edge tech. The perfect employee portrait is pretty precise, but the range of available matches is nominal, according to most survey respondents of the Top CTO Challenges for 2019, where CTOs like you rated how much every challenge drives them mad  (average rating is 3.53 out of 5).

Given this staffing gap, hiring people for startups in finance often involves some kind of trade-off. Well, that’s enough for a startup to get off the ground but can destroy the business once it has already got serious.

Sometimes the company’s location matters in hiring FinTech pros—Mark Worsey, EVP of Technology at MyVest, says that they are lucky that their office is located in an area in which the talent pool has exactly the set of skills they require. For those FinTechs who cannot move their offices, talent acquisition is still a problem.

Bulletproof Security

Security is the second-highest problem irritating CTOs off in 2019, according to the survey (average rating is 3.49 out of 5).  While FinTech companies store tons of useful data and are exposed to numerous compliance laws, CxO peers and the Board usually forget about this. That is, perhaps, until they get a summon on a huge sum of money. Well—we all know who’s responsible for the security stuff, so don’t forget that it’s your job to keep reminding them about security! Also, take all the necessary precautions for your project; for example, introduce TDD to ensure the security of each piece of code at production (Steve Mays from Trizic compares this to Legos).

Finally, just do what you do but don’t expose yourself to problems such as the one LPL Financial faced last year. Their third-party platforms were attacked and exposed the personal information of numerous clients. Earlier, Voya Financial Advisors was charged a $1 million penalty by the SEC for cybersecurity weaknesses. In a nutshell, there are too many aspects of security keeping you up at night!

Time Consumption

The third-highest issue facing CTOs is time management (average rating is 3.45 out of 5). Many respondents we’ve had the chance to speak to also admit that they struggle to prioritize their activities.

For example, a CTO can spend plenty of time on roadmapping or meetings with the Board, but leave themselves without any time to engage with urgent team issues. Others, in reverse, dive deep into team operations and “‘how to do” while losing sight of “what to do” or “why to do.” However, achieving a balance is possible, and those who’ve managed to do so are able to really make the product (and project) work.

Personal Career Development

Your path to a higher salary might have been clearer when you were a programmer. Reading books, reaching personal career milestones—you may even have had a manager who gave you advice on what to do to be professionally successful. Now everything concerning your personal career has sunk into obscurity. In the survey 3.15 out of 5 points went to personal career planning, so you’re not alone.

There are no other criteria by which to compare two CTOs regarding their efficiency than the total revenue they manage to bring in. Obviously, that isn’t the sort of info that can be disclosed in a resume. Instead, one can share their styles of management and troubleshooting. With this in mind, we started our CTO Club to provide an effective medium for communication and experience sharing to help you level up your personal success.

Engineering Team Motivation

Sometimes it turns out that that just working with money is not enough to motivate engineers. Hiring a team can be likened to cultivating a plant—it requires care, warmth, watering, and so on. According to the survey, CTOs estimated team motivation as 3.21 out of 5 points.

On a personal basis, motivation translates into a means by which your team can transform their work into something more rewarding and less exhausting. It helps minimize work-related stress and burnout while keeping you out of risks.

Along with standard perks and teambuilding, a FinTech team leader can offer his or her team something new and worthwhile—financial wellness and literacy. For instance, WealthBar has a mandatory savings account set up for every employee that the company funds as part of the employees’ compensation, according to Chris Nicola, its co-founder and CTO. This account is a flexible group or retirement-savings plan. The aim of the program is to put developers in the shoes of the company’s clients by making them use the platform they work on. Through this experience, it becomes easier for them to understand how saving and investing money into a portfolio works. And what’s more, they get a real sense of what they do for their clients.


…to be continued

Yes, there are many more letters in the alphabet—we’re working on the next installment, so stay tuned to read more! If you have any ideas about what challenges you’d like us to focus on next or what letter they might fit, your feedback is welcome!