Helping vulnerable customers prepare for digital banking

05 February, 2024Joshua Downes

Natalie Sutherland works on Monzo’s vulnerable customer team and recently completed LIBF’s Certified Fintech Practitioner programme. We sat down with Natalie to discuss her experience studying with LIBF, as well as how she sees fintech shaping the future of banking.

Can you tell us a little about your current role? 

“I work in the vulnerable customer team, offering specialized support to underserved,IMG_0070 resized vulnerable customers. They may be vulnerable for various reasons – mental health, physical health, homelessness, things like that. These are people who need access to finances but perhaps can't manage them or need to be supported in doing so. For example, they may have lending products and are defaulting, so my role involves providing in-depth support for such things. So, it’s customer service, but very specialised.”

How did you get started with fintech?

“My background is actually youth work, mostly as a sound engineer and workshop creator and facilitator. As I was affected quite badly during the pandemic, I had to pivot into another field. So, during lockdown, I started to study.

I did the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification and started really learning about cloud structure. So that’s what really got me going with fintech. I’m very much from the analogue era, but tech really suits me – being able to learn, grow and not be left behind.

Working in the banking sector appealed to me because it was an opportunity to work with new technology as well as with people.”

What made you decide to further your fintech education with CFP?

“Throughout history, there've been these kind of evolutionary jumps, and it feels like we're literally on the precipice of another one with digital technology. Although I am on the start of my journey, what I'm seeing is there's likely to be a wave of challenges before this can happen for everyone.

In my role, I've gained more awareness of my lack of education in certain areas – my understanding of fintech, in particular.

My organisation offered training as part of our introduction and Certified Fintech Practitioner was one of the courses that was suggested. I started to look into it and thought: this looks interesting.”

How did you find studying CFP?

“It was quite interesting because initially I booked on the course and figured out my study time, but then I was deployed for the vulnerable customer position, so I also needed to do the training for that.

So, I had to completely reschedule my study plans for the fintech practitioner course and study in my own time.

Fortunately, the way the course was delivered – the structure, the user interface, the resources, everything – was perfect for the way I learn. So, I just took the four hours I had set aside and shifted to the evenings.”

What were the highlights of studying CFP?

“The way it's structured made it easy to study – so long as I stayed on top of things. I consider myself neurodiverse, especially in the way that I process information. But the way the coursework was broken down made things easier for me. Some of the speakers were also really engaging, which helped.

I was surprised how eye opening and interesting the content on fintech’s potential was when it comes to sustainability. I have to say that the module on the environmental factors that are impacting the development of digital finance and fintech completely blew me away. I was hearing both my personal and professional feelings around the underserved and their access to fintech, reflected back to me in a way that completely shifted my mindset and really helped me to understand the scope of things and just how much potential fintech has.”

What advice would you give to students or those looking to start a fintech related career?

“My advice would be one start to look at the different areas that you can work in, as fintech is a broad field. Doing a course like CFP is a good way to get an understanding of what’s what. You’ll have access to materials and speakers who can go into more depth, so you can start looking into the different areas that interest you.

That's why I think the timing of the Fintech practitioner course worked really well, as it gives you a good overview whilst being broad enough that you keep your options open.”

How do you see fintech shaping the future of banking?

“When it comes to working with vulnerable customers, technology presents some challenges. Of course, there are things like cybercrime, phishing, and crypto scams to consider, but it’s also important that vulnerable customers are supported in the use of new technologies, like open banking, that might offer additional services and can make a positive impact on how they manage their money.

It will be important for banking professionals, especially those in customer facing roles, to have an understanding of fintech and how it fits into the bigger picture, so they can better serve their customers.

There are already so many amazing things from the digital era and, if we can meet the challenges, there are plenty more to come.”

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Read more about our Certified Fintech Practitioner programme