Dive Brief:

  • Partnership-oriented positions at the top ten payments firms climbed to nearly 13% in 2022, from 7% in 2012, according to a report from executive search firm SpencerStuart released this month.
  • Also increasing were the number of roles tied to product development. The payments companies had essentially no chief product officers back in 2013, but as of last year, nearly two-thirds (60%) had hired such executives, according to the report. The share of product roles among total industry hires also increased, jumping to 21% in 2022, from 7% in 2012, according to the report. 
  • “While the killer apps may not yet be known, all payments companies should ensure they have right talent in place to monitor the relevant developments and determine how best to make use of these technologies as they emerge,” the report cited Max Bardon, a former head of payments for retail and tech behemoth Amazon, as saying.

Dive Insight:

“We are seeing several trends, including accelerating adoption of leadership roles in product and partnerships, new routes up to the CEO role and shifting talent flows within the industry, as payments companies seek to build leadership muscle in new areas,” the report said.

As context for the report, SpencerStuart listed Visa, Mastercard and American Express as the top three payment companies, based on market capitalization, both in 2013 and 2023. Some companies, including First Data and TSYS, disappeared from the list of those studied, as a result of being acquired. Other upstart paytech companies, including Square parent Block as well as well as Stripe and Adyen, jumped onto the list, given the industry’s increasing digitalization. 

“New generation payments companies with agile operating models and differentiated technology stacks have built formidable businesses, some of which are now among the largest payments companies in the world,” the report said. “At the same time, incumbency can be powerful, especially when combined with a commitment to innovation and technology.”

While roles for product development are well-defined, partnership roles are emerging as a new class of jobs in the payments industry.

“The proliferation of fintechs has enabled legacy payment companies to add new capabilities via partnerships instead of building them from scratch,” the report said. “Entering into joint ventures or strategic partnerships with innovative fintechs can sometimes pave the way for investing in or even outright acquiring them in the future, creating new pathways toward industry consolidation.”

Meanwhile, the C-suites of major payments firms have changed during the past decade. Gender diversity among the top payment CEOs shifted from all male CEOs in 2013 to 90% male CEOs in 2023, the report found. 

In 2022, as demand for top payments executives was accelerating, candidates for product, operations, risk and marketing positions were in high demand, and compensation for such positions was rising too, according to interviews with recruiters at that time.

Demand for such roles has continued to grow over the past year, as retaining employees has become a challenge, according to executives at some companies.


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