When we started developing our new Certified Fintech Practitioner course in September last year, we had a broad idea of what we wanted to create, but it would be fair to say that we didn’t have a linear view of how it would actually turn out. As is often the case when you sit down with a blank sheet of paper, it starts with doodles, scribbles and mind maps, and then suddenly it all comes together ready to be shared with a curious cohort.
We had (and still have) a strong belief that, as the impact of technology in banking and finance continues to grow, there is a need and thirst for high quality learning on the subject. And we were also convinced that, in LendIt Fintech, we had a partner who shared our passion for providing meaningful insight and learning to the industry. We knew we had to rise above the noise and make ourselves heard and we thought that a new programme, combining LIBF’s experience of delivering high quality education and LendIt Fintech’s compelling and highly relevant content, would offer something new and powerful.
So, just like so many fintech startups and partnerships, we started building and iterating together. We decided early on not to make this a tech-heavy programme but rather to focus on fintech strategies and business models and their impact on the wider industry. We felt that practitioners in fintech and in financial services more broadly, would benefit from developing this wider view to help them make better and more informed decisions.
Our biggest challenge was how to fit all of the learning we wanted to deliver into just 6 weeks, with so many areas to cover and so much content available. This led us to create a blended learning experience of live virtual classrooms with pre-reading, and research combined with flexible self-paced study allowing the students to explore the areas of content they were most interested in.
Above all else, we also wanted to make sure that the students were able to relate the learning to their work. One of the ways that this came to life was in the form of completing a learning journal, where students were asked to reflect on what they had learnt and apply it to their role or organisation; an integral part of the process.
Of course, our final challenge was finding a group of willing participants! We were after ‘digital pioneers’ who were excited about coming on the learning journey with us and prepared to form the first cohort. We were delighted that, through LIBF and LendIt Fintech’s combined networks, we were able to recruit an incredibly diverse group – with students from the US, Europe, Africa and Asia representing fintechs, incumbent financial services and even academia.
Once we had programme lift-off, the process of iteration continued. By listening to our students and through observation of what worked well, we were able to refine the activities and enhance their value even further. It became clear quite early on that the group wanted the learning to be as real as possible and not just focus on the theory of fintech but also how it was playing out within organisations. So, as the course progressed, we invited industry guest speakers onto the live lessons to talk about their experiences. We also found that the diverse views and experiences of the group added a richness to the discussion in the virtual classroom that was way beyond our expectations – to the point that, combined with the extra guest speakers, we were constantly challenged by not having enough time to cover everything the group wanted.
Overall, the feedback on the first edition of the CFP course has been fantastic with many students commenting on how engaging the live lessons were, how much they valued the guest speakers from industry and the quality of the self-guided content and learning materials. As we move into the second session of the programme we’ve taken the first group’s feedback and our own observations on board. ‘CFP II’ will feature longer live sessions, more guest speakers and updated content that reflects the fast pace of change in the sector.
Creating the programme has been an exciting, challenging and sometimes nerve-wracking experience. What started out as a spark of an idea and an enthusiastic conversation between us and the fantastic team at LendIt Fintech has turned into a positive and impactful learning experience that has made a real difference to the participants. We are very much looking forward to taking our next group through the programme and continuing to learn ourselves about how to make the programme even better in future.