As we’ve entered 2023, we sat down with Storm2’s VP Tom Marks, who is leading the Australian Team and chatted about the challenging but exciting times ahead for the FinTech space Down Under.
1. Tell Us a Little About Yourself and Your Background.
I studied electronic engineering at university and tried my hand at being an engineer for a couple of years but it wasn’t for me. I “fell into” recruitment, as they say, in 2014. This job truly changed my life and I fell in love with how much I was able to positively impact the lives of the people I was working with, both externally as a consultant, and internally as I moved into management and mentoring. I was working in London and built out a few successful teams there. Eventually, I was asked to move to Singapore where I continued building successful teams from scratch. The opportunity to join James Brown on his journey with Levin presented itself and I immediately knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. The pace at which Storm2 and Levin are growing is unparalleled, and what we’ve been able to achieve in such a short time is amazing. I was very happy to step into this role and lead the business into Australia.
2. What Are You the Proudest of Professionally?
I have led people that come from similar circumstances to mine: not always the most well-off, or who come from a background of have-nots. What I am most proud of is to have mentored, trained, and guided people in their recruitment careers to a point where they have been able to change their lives for the better. The reason I knew I loved management was that I got way more excited when someone in my team did a deal than I ever did about my own.
3. What Is Storm2’s Mission? And what is your mission as VP of Storm2 ANZ?
Our mission is to connect FinTech talent to hyper-growth, disruptive technology companies within the FinTech space. We want to be the number one partner for FinTechs, both starting up and scaling up everywhere in the world. Australia is the sixth biggest FinTech market globally, which is incredible when you think about the fact that Australia only has a population of 26 million. One of the ongoing challenges for Aussie FinTechs is access to talent. This means there is a genuine need for what we do: finding the right person for the right company, no matter whether they are or aren’t looking. Our mission is to become the one name Australian businesses think of when it comes to FinTech recruitment.
4. Are There Any Particular Areas of FinTech That Excite You the Most?
Decentralized Finance is super exciting to me. It’s about time we have more options when it comes to who we bank with and who we get our loans from. Accessibility is key here and this is even more exciting when you look at historically underserviced populations, such as rural communities in Australia. I think it’s incredible that there are now options that weren’t accessible previously.
5. What’s The Biggest Challenge for FinTechs Currently in Australia?
There are two major challenges we have reported on a lot because we hear about them constantly when speaking to clients. The first one is a decrease in funding, which is a fallout from the pandemic. Before last year, companies were getting very high valuations. Now, the market is correcting itself somewhat. Companies are getting more conservative valuations but a by-product is that there has been a huge slowdown in fundraising or in achieving favorable terms for the businesses when they do get funding.
The other challenge is talent, a topic that has been widely reported on. FinTech companies, most of which are all actively hiring, are struggling to find the right people for their business.
6. How do you see the Australian FinTech sector developing in the next 10 years?
FinTech is one of the more mature tech sectors in Australia because the country has a mature banking system. The really exciting thing about Australia is that it is a country of early adopters when it comes to tech. Australia was one of the very first countries to adopt contactless payments, for example. FinTech Down Under is seen as a safer space for tech investors because there is domain expertise; you can see where the value lies and what the return is going to be.
Australia has created a very stable environment for FinTech startups to emerge and for companies to develop their businesses in that sector. Famously, Australian Unicorns have hit the world stage, such as AirWallex. I have no doubt there will be many more to follow. In terms of job creation, I think it is clear that there is an urgent need for more talent. The Tech Council of Australia has created a roadmap to get to 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030. The next decade will be an incredibly exciting time for FinTechs in the region.
7. What’s Your Advice for FinTechs on Attracting and Retaining Top Talent?
Simple: Use us! Seriously, it is very competitive out there: there is such a tight pool of talent, companies are fighting over the same candidates, there are really not enough people in Australia to fill these roles, and it is very difficult for foreign talent to get into the country and fill vacant jobs right now. I believe companies need to be more flexible in terms of how and where they should be sourcing their talent from and they must be more creative in their hiring strategies.
8. What’s next for the Storm2 Australia team?
To get there physically! We are currently going through the process to get our feet on the ground. We are determined to build our business there so we can better service and support the Australian Fintech industry as it continues to grow.