Many of the Fintech Finance 35 — those ranked by Institutional Investor as the leading financiers and facilitators of the ongoing entrepreneurial explosion in financial technology — have "partner" in their titles. Their firms are structured as partnerships, but all on the list are partners in a practical, day-to-day sense. They are as much strategic advisers and collaborators as they are funders; "partnerships" are what they offer to companies they invest in and usher toward growth and maturity.
Take, for example, General Atlantic, a venerable growth equity firm whose financial services sector team made more than $1 billion in investments over the past 12 months under the direction of Jonathan Korngold, No. 1 in this year's ranking. A transaction announced in May with Argus Media, valuing the market news and data enterprise at nearly £1 billion ($1.2 billion), was characterized as a strategic partnership, with General Atlantic contributing its "expertise in the information services and Internet and technology sectors."
General Atlantic also stressed partnership in leading a $325 million Series E funding late last year for marketplace lending platform Avant, with Korngold joining the company's board. Another Avant director is James Robinson III (No. 4), general partner of RRE Ventures, who says that "what we have to offer" comes first in conversations with prospective portfolio companies.
Although there is, by definition, a collaborative element in any investment or advisory relationship, the sector that has come to be known as fintech has special needs. The culture of a start-up is very different from that of an established financial institution; even if the latter wishes to be more nimble and embrace new ideas and technologies, its procurement and compliance bureaucracy can get in the way. Hence the emergence of ecosystems designed to lower such barriers. Eighteen-year-old FTV Capital (Brad Bernstein and Richard Garman, No. 7) pioneered in this regard with its Global Partner Network, which includes major financial companies that invest in FTV funds and thereby gain insight into new developments.
In recent years regional hubs have sprung up as meeting places for entrepreneurs, incumbents, and funders, among them the New York FinTech Innovation Lab (see Partnership Fund for New York City's Maria Gotsch, No. 12), London's Innovate Finance (Lawrence Wintermeyer, No. 28), FinTech Hong Kong (Janos Barberis, No. 32), and, in Singapore, a "smart financial center" spearheaded by the central bank (Sopnendu Mohanty, No. 34).
"We are beginning to observe much more of a push toward collaboration — a shift from complete independence to an interest in building tools with established players that happened really quickly in this sector," notes Vanessa Colella (No. 18) of Citi Ventures.
General Atlantic's Korngold agrees that there is "increased collaboration between fintech companies and more traditional financial institutions," along with "a more grounded and realistic view of what each side can bring to the table, which is creating great partnership opportunities."
The Fintech Finance 35 ranking was compiled by Institutional Investor editors and staff, with nominations and input from industry participants and experts. The evaluation criteria included individual achievements and leadership at the respective firms; influence in the community at large; and the size, reputation, and impact of the respective funds and institutions in the financial technology industry — and particularly in the current wave of fintech financing. To view the individual profiles, click on the names below. On the profile pages, last year's ranks are shown; newcomers are designated PNR (previously not ranked).
The Fintech Finance 35 will be honored at the iiFintech Awards taking place on December 1. The awards program was designed to bring together the honorees of the Tech 50, Fintech Finance 35, and Trading Technology 40 to explore how financial technology will continue to transform the industry.
This ranking was compiled under the direction of Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were written by Kutler, Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng, Senior Writers Frances Denmark and Julie Segal, and Staff Writer Jess Delaney, as well as by former Editor Michael Peltz, Content Editor Anne Szustek, Associate Editor Kaitlin Ugolik, and Assistant Editor Jen Werner.