"Career walk" interview with Michael Jaiyeola of Erlang: Fintech Marketing post 2008

What’s it like to be a fintech marketer? In our “Fintech Career Walks” series, we’re revealing the career stories of some of the most inspiring and successful marketers in the sector. Subscribe to the Fintech Marketing Monthly Digest here so you don’t miss any of our future stories.


Career walk interview with Michael Jaiyeola of Erlang Solutions

I just feel that fintech is in such a great position at the moment but one with significant responsibility to get things right. So much that might have taken another 3 to 5 years to happen has been accelerated in 2020 and fintech is at the heart of it. There are going to be many more innovative digital tools and platforms being launched to address pain points in the new normal of financial services - it couldn't be a better time to be talking about and marketing these products.

Michael Jaiyeola might appear quite young on his LinkedIn profile pic, but he’s been around the marketing sector for over 15 years now. He’s made his first steps in the financial industry while he was still at university in its glorious days before the 2008 crisis. After that, he moved to one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies and gained experience across various sectors and categories like high-end fashion and energy providers before he entered the tech startup space in 2018.


Since 2019, Michael has been working at the global tech provider of fintech infrastructure solutions, Erlang Solutions. He initially joined the company as a Content Manager and now he’s been promoted to a Fintech Marketing Lead.


Erlang Solutions is a specialist tech consultancy and experts in building sustainable, reliable distributed systems which can scale to billions of users in the financial services industry and beyond. Part of the global Trifork Group, Erlang has been operating for more than 20 years and is serving global fintech leaders like Mastercard, Visa and Klarna.


About his experience at Erlang, Michael says “Working for Erlang Solutions has been great because we retain much of the startup ethos which I find very inspiring but are part of a much bigger group called Trifork which brings together a lot more diverse talents and technologies that we are able to leverage on bigger projects.”


What’s different between modern fintech marketing and financial marketing pre-2008, what 2021 has in store for marketers in the sector, and what Michael believes to be his biggest career successes and failures so far?


Find the answers to these questions and more in Michael’s complete story below.



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Tell us about your career start? How did you end up doing marketing for a fintech?


I have come full circle from working at the Lombard Group (part of NatWest) in Direct Marketing during the placement year of my degree to time spent working on big brand campaigns at media owners in the entertainment industry and then in tech startups to where I am now working at Erlang Solutions where we work on the deep tech which power many leading fintechs and big banks systems.


What’s unique about marketing a fintech? Can you define the term “fintech marketing” in a few words? What’s the biggest challenge for fintech marketers nowadays?


Well as a software solutions provider whose goal is to enable our fintech clients to concentrate on what they do best, delivering value to their end-users, we are one step removed from the consumer side of marketing financial services. From a B2B perspective, I have found that fintech marketing is quite special in that there are just so many exciting products and solutions that you can bring to clients to solve important problems. Therefore, the scope and variety are immense. I define fintech marketing as creatively ensuring that your target market is aware of and understands just how your wonderful app or technology will measurably improve their business and/or their customer's lives. The biggest challenge has got to be standing out in the crowd - the growth of the sector over the last few years means you can't stand still with what you're doing in the industry from a marketing perspective or a nimbler more agile competitor will eat your lunch.


Prior to your current role at Erlang Solutions, you worked in legal tech. How is your legal tech experience helping you in your current fintech marketing role?


It helps tremendously, law tech is similar in that you have to be very on point in all your marketing activities or you risk losing trust or running foul of the authorities at some point. Obviously, when your dealing with lawyers and legal issues the day to day scrutiny is even greater so it gave me a great foundation for working with the financial services sector again. Ant the whole thing of challenging perceptions of what was traditionally quite an unglamorous industry has so many parallels between the two.


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What do you love the most about your job at Erlang?


Working for Erlang Solutions has been great because we retain much of the startup ethos which I find very inspiring but are part of a much bigger group called Trifork which brings together a lot more diverse talents and technologies that we are able to leverage on bigger projects. From a marketing perspective, it means I can run campaigns to almost any segment of fintech in any location of the world to solve any tech challenge - that is tremendously exciting to be a part of.


What has changed about marketing a fintech from your early days in the sector?


If I were to compare it to working in personal finance and POS credit back in the noughties, things could not be more different now. The biggest thing was how the 2008 crisis sparked the change in financial services. Back in the day, the marketing we did was very aggressive and intrusive, we played a numbers game, to be honest, and didn't mind annoying and alienating large chunks of our client base to maximise the revenue from the others, I was never entirely comfortable with that type of approach especially after I spent a day shadowing the customer services team and hearing the customer calls they dealt with. FinTech is just so refreshingly different in that most people genuinely are looking to make a positive impact on people's lives and improve their financial options while, of course, being commercially successful as a business at the same time.


What’s your favourite fintech marketing campaign?


Hard choice - there are so many great executions in the space. I would go with some of the Snoop Dogg ads for Klarna for two reasons; one, I love the way they push the boundaries on what financial services ads can look like and secondly, Klarna also uses Erlang technology to build their systems. Honourable mention for the new Habito visual identity too which I found really impressive.


What will the fintech industry look like in 2021?


We're just about to publish a whitepaper on this very question on the Erlang Solutions website around mid-April. We spoke to a whole bunch of thought leaders in the industry and some of the biggest and up-and-coming fintechs on how things have changed for their business models over the last year and what they expect next. Overall, I just feel that fintech is in such a great position at the moment but one with significant responsibility to get things right. So much that might have taken another 3 to 5 years to happen has been accelerated in 2020 and fintech is at the heart of it. There are going to be many more innovative digital tools and platforms being launched to address pain points in the new normal of financial services - it couldn't be a better time to be talking about and marketing these products.


What do you consider to be the biggest achievement in your career so far? What about a failure?


Spreading the word about Erlang and Elixir (it's a related programming language), which for so long has been a real secret sauce for the backend systems of many financial institutions and fintechs has been great. Working with partners at firms such as Klarna is obviously a lot of fun. Not so much a failure, as a work in progress, but securing some case studies with the big global banks and payment providers that we work with without compromising our NDA agreements (which we would never do of course) is something I'd love to get done.


What advice would you give to anyone considering starting a career in fintech marketing?


There is more than one way to market finance - leverage your skills and know-how from other sectors to challenge the norm.



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