Niklas's blog

Goodbye, fintech workplace

2023-06-18-goodbye.png AI interpretation of 'A technical writer who's leaving their fintech job for the last time.'

Where is the madness that you promised me?
Where is the dream for which I paid dearly?

The Magnetic Fields, 'No One Will Ever Love You'

I've worked for a fintech2 company for one and a half year. I've just come home, having finished my last day at the company.

I'm drinking a huge glass of water, looking through my kitchen window. I feel good, which is strange.

I'm writing this as I listen to a playlist that I created today:

Listening to ANOHNI is a massive experience. What a voice. Her words, paired with a deep-toned guitar tremolo, melt through my ears.

Now that I'm almost gone
The sliver of ice on my tongue
In the day's night
It tastes so good, it felt so right
For the first time in my life

ANOHNI, 'Sliver of Ice'

I feel good. That feels strange. How come?

Well, I've been on a kind of farewell tour for the past couple of weeks. Ever since I resigned, three months ago, I've heard 'Oh no! You're leaving us?' over and over again.

I get why people say that. 'No, why? Don't go.'

It's sweet, in a way. It's very sweet. They care. Affections matter. Most people who've told me that have also said they think it's a shame that I'm leaving the company, that they'll miss me. People have shown me kindness in ways that truly touched me.

I arranged a little drinks-after-work thing on Thursday. A lot of people showed up and one person held a speech that made made me cry; the speech was funny and beautiful. I really couldn't handle it. It was so very nice.

Leaving a workplace is similar to breaking up a relationship; there are reasons for why you once gelled, just as there are reasons for why you break up.

I hope my next job will bring plenty of joy and challenges. For nearly two years, I've worked solo. At the next job, I'll work as part of a team. I'll no longer be the only technical writer. I'll have peers. I'll have people to speak with about things that we will all understand profoundly.

I'll go from writing about constantly changing software in a very broad finance environment to mainly create reading materials on hardware, such as pumps, drills, and compressors.

I almost don't know what a compressor is, but, as every technical writer knows, to completely immerse yourself in a subject is to know the subject, and, ultimately, enables you to describe it in a way that makes sense to the reader. This is glorious. Even from the start of my IT career, more than 25 years ago, I loved helping people. To write something that lives on its own to help the reader, a guide that lets a reader quickly scan it to find what they need, is, to me, lovely and deeply satisfying.

I hadn't worked in the world of finance before I joined a fintech company. It opened new worlds.

I used to work in a company in another industry. It was one where I was part of growing from around forty to around 900 people; it was quite a journey. The company went from being a collaborative Norwegian-Swedish company to becoming an awful American horrorshow, filled with snakes, ladders, and hierarchies. I saw a lot of awful shit go down. Ethics didn't truly exist: the almighty Dollar ruled.

The best things in life are free
But you can keep it to the birds and bees
I need money
Oh, that's what I want

Jerry Lee Lewis, 'Money (That's What I Want)'1

One memory from that company comes to mind. One day, the CEO started talking about how 'ethics' was going to be the lodestar of the company. Now, ethics is a collection of morals; morals are principles related to right or wrong. The CEO of the company claimed that they were 'ethical'; the company had customers like Honeywell, a company that built calculators and computers. They also build 'bombies', which are bombs disguised as toys, created with one sole intent: to maim children. Other customers, for example, Lockheed-Martin, created stealth planes that dropped tonnes of bombs over many different countries.

There were no morals, never mind ethics, to speak of.

Nat West-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds
Black horse apocalypse
Death sanitised through credit

Manic Street Preachers, 'Nat West-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds'

The fintech industry is fast-moving. There's a lot to say about the market, where the company I worked ruled. There are many other companies, but the one I worked for is at the peak of its powers. It was bought by a major credit-card company and is now breaking into the USA.

Money, money, money. New ways of making money.

In marketing copy, this is 'increasing conversion', a term that means 'to make sure that as many end users as possible successfully finish a fintech-enabled journey'.

It's been interesting to write copy that people from 10-120 years of age, who are from anywhere on Earth, who probably don't use English as their first language, should be able to understand. It was, initially, like hitting a brick wall. I'd no idea that I'd be helping customers write copy as well, even going as far as helping some of the biggest companies on the planet understand why 'select' is a better word to use than 'click'. It's been wild.

The way you're treating me leaves me incomplete
You're here for the day, gone for the week now

The Isley Brothers, 'This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)'

Ultimately, what made me leave was the options that my new gig leaves me. I'll miss writing docs-as-code, which is my favourite way of writing docs with developers, but my new position isn't about writing for developers, at least not a lot; if there's something that writing's taught me, never assume too much. Especially when jumping into a new project. You never know what's behind the next door.

Being a technical writer is so often about being proactive. You'll never find your best sources unless you reach out to them first, is my motto; ask the Support department what customers complain about the most. Ask the people who install stuff for customers what docs should be changed and altered to best suit them. Speak with account managers. Stay close to the UX and Product Designers; they know how the products should work. Trust the Product Managers but also speak with Support to verify what's said. A lot of documentation fixes stop with Support and never makes its way to customers, so it's up to you to make sure that those tips and tricks do make their way into documentation.

The most important thing: speak with the actual customers. Do customer interviews. Also, set up meetings with people who've never before used your company's products but could, let them use your docs to complete different things, record them, and ultimately use what you've found to improve everything. There's always something to change, improve, remove, or create. Think outside the box. Arrange hackathons to have people create and dig into new stuff.

I'll miss a lot of people, in a lot of different ways. I'll forever be grateful to my colleagues that I've now left behind; some of them I'm confident that I'll stay in touch with for a long time. Some of them I'm proud to call my friends.

Onward and upward.

  1. Written by Bradford/Gordy

  2. The term is an abbreviation of 'financial technology'. A fintech company operates in the financial world and either creates technology or/and delivers services.