Alana Levine is a founding member and the CRO of Fintel Connect, the Vancouver-based specialist in performance marketing technology for the financial industry. She has experience across multiple niche verticals servicing 50+ markets worldwide, with a passion for partnerships, marketing, and business development.
Levine previously held leadership roles in both SaaS technology and fintech businesses and holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology and a post-graduate degree in finance from McGill University. We caught up with her to find out more.
Describe your role - and your journey to it. Is there a story to be told?
My role combines all my favourite things into one, so I could not be luckier to do what I’m doing. I started my career in marketing, which quickly evolved into sales and business development (for those who know me, I love talking and connecting with others) and growing opportunities for the business I worked for.
Now, in addition to these areas, I have the privilege of driving strategic partnerships and finding paths to growth for our business, our clients, and our partners. Our latest partnership with MeridianLink is an exciting one because it means creating exponential value for our mutual clients looking to grow more efficiently online.
What attracted you to the fintech space in the first place?
Financial services is the backbone of all industries; touching financial services means touching a whole range of areas, which is exciting. It is also an area ripe for disruption. While there is already a ton of innovation happening, there is still plenty of progress to be made, and it amazes me the new niche solutions that pop up every day to solve real problems.
As a female founder and CRO, what's your experience been like in the fintech space so far?
As I have more and more exposure in the industry, it has been interesting to see where the most diversity happens. Many of the roles in marketing (one area that we directly support) are held by women and its a privilege to see them drive innovative strategies within their organisations.
We see marketing having a seat at the “table” more than ever before, as it holds an increasingly impactful role in driving meaningful growth via scalable digital channels. That said, when I get on stage to present or pitch as a fintech founder at conferences, I do still feel a bit like the odd (two)man out!
How can the industry attract more women into the space? What is needed to improve the gender balance?
It is really a collective effort and needs to come from both the top-down and bottom-up. By this, I mean leadership and capital can work harder to support and fund women-led organisations within the space, as well as internally, organisations that encourage women to step outside their comfort zones and have the courage to take on challenges they may not feel ready for.
From the bottom up, there needs to be a willingness from women to walk through these open doors and see the opportunities to have influence, create community, and support others in being successful. There are some collectives like the ‘Most Powerful Women in Banking,’ which create valuable platforms to showcase those that have paved the way and allow women to share their stories to create connection and relatability while inspiring others.
All that said, it also depends on where you look. More often, you are now seeing women take on more responsibility and senior positions within their organisations – especially in areas like strategy, partnerships, and marketing.
Female-led fintechs typically have a tough time attracting investment. But Fintel Connect is having success in this area. Can you tell us about this, and about your investment strategy?
There were certainly several factors to consider. Track record is a big component. Nicky Senyard, our CEO, is a previously exited entrepreneur with a history of success in bootstrapping and scaling her last business – and in the SaaS technology space.
Our founding team also has a long history together, having worked together for 10+ years. We also approached the fundraising by looking at strategic partners that share and align with our core values, believe in our vision, and would be able to create exponential value beyond just capital. We also worked hard to build relationships in the space prior to fundraising, so had already started to build our credibility and traction by the time we went to seek investment.
Don’t be shy to ask for help with things like pitching, presentations, and introductions – this goes for any founder!
What differentiates Fintel Connect from its competitors and how have you leveraged that advantage?
The key is really understanding the customer you serve, and the specific pain points your solution can solve. To do this well, diving deep into a niche really makes all the difference. This is a key differentiator for Fintel Connect.
Our solution is purpose-built to serve the financial industry and its unique challenges to growth. This includes scaling acquisition efforts cost-effectively and efficiently, all while having transparency, market intelligence, and ensuring marketing compliance. It is also turn-key and serves all types of businesses – from scrappy fintech start-ups to community financial institutions to enterprise banks. Brands can unlock features of our app as they need them and then have the infinite ability to scale, which makes it an accessible solution for any organisation in the space to use to grow online.
What new products and services can we expect from Fintel Connect in 2023/4
We’re excited to be rolling out our commercial Check solution for Banking-as-a-service (BaaS) providers. With the evolving regulatory landscape, BaaS banks need an efficient way to monitor, manage and proactively support their fintech partners’ activities, and our platform automates and removes the heavy-lifting and manual effort of compliance and risk teams managing those relationships currently, to free up time for more strategic inputs and remediation where needed. Stay tuned for new features being rolled out throughout the year in this area!
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