What Makes Up a C-Suite?
FinTech firms require a range of skill sets at C-Suite level to prepare for the disruptive nature and changes that FinTech industry brings along. With a strong C-Suite, it helps to drive transformational change and disruptive vision from the top. FinTech firms are digitally driven and require leadership with elements of authority-based and high-performance. A C-Suite helps to provide sound, key decisions and additional expertise based on the firm’s needs and market trends.
C-Suite is commonly used as a term to describe high-ranking executive titles of an organization. With the ‘C’ in C-Suite representing Chief. The common C-Suite roles in a FinTech company, besides Chief Executive Officer are:
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
- Chief Operating Officer (COO)
- Chief Commercial Officer (CCO)
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
- Chief Product Officer (CPO)
- Chief Data Officer (CDO)
- Chief Risk Officer (CRISK)
They are considered the most influential members of the organization as they set the strategy, make high-stake decisions, and oversee day-to-day operations. They are also the most costly and difficult hires in a FinTech company. The C-Suite roles mentioned above each oversee a specific function of the firm as one of the highest-level decision-maker.
Chief Financial Officer
CFO oversees the finance function of the company and is normally responsible for financial decisions relating to the company. However, it is not common to have CFO in Seed and Pre-Seed FinTech firms as they are normally still in the ideation stage of the product. A strong CFO can be costly for startups in early stages, and they tend to outsource CFO for the necessity to keep finances in shape.
As startups grow into matured companies, there is a strong need for a CFO to be in-house as it would take on the role of setting up financial infrastructure, strategic planning and optimize business costs or profits. We noticed that Series A companies start to make the hire of CFO after the ideation stage of the product, and they move on to focusing on making profits. At this point of time, it would be ideal to have a CFO in-house to ensure the financials are healthy.
At least 50% of Series A companies have a CFO.
Chief Operating Officer
COO takes on the role of overseeing the administrative and operational functions of a business. The role would be focused on the executional of the business plan as compared to a CEO who might be more involved in the planning stage of the business plan.
While the responsibilities of a COO might be fluid depending on the company’s needs, it is a critical role as it complements with the CEO when company scales and grow bigger, and the CEO might have to offload certain responsibilities. Often, CEO has the responsibilities of a COO. Thus, it might be redundant and costly to hire a COO at early stages (Series A or earlier). In our research, we noticed that it is at Series B funding stage, when companies start to scale or move into new markets, the CEO would have to delegate some responsibilities to a COO.
More than 80% of Series B companies have a COO.
Chief Commercial Officer
CCO is integral for the commercial development of a company, especially within the FinTech industry. Commercial relates to the generation of revenue, it can cover a mix of services such as sales, customer success, marketing, and PR. COO helps to execute the supervisory responsibility of operations and is critical in scaling and global expansion. They lead the development and commercial strategies of businesses while helping to define the company on a commercial level and ensure that annual budget and profits are in line. It is a critical role at the point when the company is intending to promote and expand its activities which will help create sustainable growth for the company, this is common at the Series B funding stage of the company when they fundraising to scale up.
More than 50% of Series B companies have a CCO.
Chief Technology Officer
In a FinTech firm, it is extremely common to have a strong need for a CTO in early funding stages as they are focused on the technology stack that the company is using and aligning technology-related decisions to the company’s strategic goals.
In our recent research, we noticed that CTO is viewed as a crucial hire in companies in Series A funding stage or sometime even earlier to utilize their expertise in navigating technological roadmap. In initial stages of the company, CTO is knowledgeable in their field of specialization and communicate the company’s product to potential investors and target market well because of that.
79% of Series A companies have a CTO.
Chief Product Officer
CPO is the main strategic executive for the company’s product strategy and direction, which can include product vision, innovation, design, development, project management and product marketing. A CPO helps to deliver value via the excellent digital product experience to customers.
In initial funding stages, CTO hires tend to take precedence over CPO as the product has not been fully developed. However, it is common at Series A stage when product is typically ready for the market to hire a CPO would be brought in to build a strong product-market fit and refine the product further with a strong user experience and interface.
57% of Series A companies have a CPO.
Chief Revenue Officer
CRO, sometimes known as Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) has a critical role as the influencing figure for the company’s outlook, its main responsibilities can cover bringing in new businesses, securing client base, partner strategy and taking charge of growing the business by driving revenue.
At Series B stage, that’s when companies are stable enough to rapidly grow the business and execute global expansion plan. Thus, a strong demand for a CRO arises as they are fundamental in leading the development and commercial strategies.
55% of Series B companies have a CRO.
Chief Data Officer
CDO manages data-related functions to help improve product performance and further boost the competitive advantage of the company. Some responsibilities of a CDO can include:
- Ensuring data quality
- Oversee data management, data analytics and data governance
- Spearhead data and information strategy
A strong CDO will be able to take the company’s data and turn it into value (increase revenue or cut cost). A CDO is not common in all FinTech companies, CDOs might not be viewed critical as an immediate hire, but as businesses continue to work with vast amounts of data, this role will become crucial in the continued success of APAC startups.
More than 30% of Series C companies have a CDO.
Chief Risk Officer
CRISK oversees the risk and compliance function of the company. At times, its main responsibilities can encompass both ‘Risk’ and ‘Compliance’. Our recruitment specialists emphasized that while the Risk/Compliance function of the company is not necessarily view as a revenue-generating business unit however, it is one of the most important functions of a company. As a business, risk exists everywhere and with the prevalence of technology and the nature of the FinTech industry, businesses would face greater challenge in mitigating risks. CRISK is not common in companies in early stages (Series B or earlier), and the team often has one of the smallest headcounts in the company.
More than 70% of Series C companies have a CRISK.
C-Suite Structure at Each Funding Stage
The above infographic is a rough guide on the ideal timeline for C-Suite/senior hires to ensure the success of your FinTech firm. In our research, we used the funding stages of each company to understand the timing of each C-Suite hire. C-Suite hires are typically a reflection of a company’s total headcount, team size and funding stage, as with larger firms often require more C-Suite roles to distribute the workload and align strategic goals.
At each funding stage, your company would be working towards different goals. For example, in Pre-Seed and Seed stages, startups are focused on product ideation and would require a CTO to guide the technological roadmap to a completed product. While at Series C funding stage, we noticed that successful FinTech companies would have its C-Suite roles fully filled up and focusing on securing funding and growing team sizes.
As the leading FinTech recruitment firm, Storm2 knows how important and critical a C-Suite hire is for FinTech companies. We specialize in connecting the perfect FinTech professional to lead innovative FinTech businesses to success. We can help your company succeed in this rapidly evolving industry with our strong pool of skilled FinTech talents. Connect with us now to find out how we can help you on this journey.