Have you invested before? No, there wasn’t an app good enough yet, so I’m helping to build one 🔥
He’s helping to build our backend from scratch, from code quality to bank deposits & withdrawals.
I studied Computer Science at the University of Liege, my hometown back in Belgium.
After my degree, I took a gap year to travel across North America, somehow stretching the lifespan of my worry-free student life. But all good things must come to an end, and eventually it was time for me to rejoin the ranks and make my long-awaited entrance into the professional world.
So I went home and ended up joining Proximus, the largest telecom company in Belgium. I started as a backend engineer, and worked mainly on developing new services to manage client information and link it up to all the different products across the company.
I had an amazing run there but eventually came to the point where it was time for me to move on if I wanted to keep improving and developing new skills. So I went looking for a new challenge on the other side of the Channel (Hello London!).
I knew I wanted to get into fintech for a couple of reasons. First, there’s a lot of energy, excitement and investment. But I also see a really interesting, natural relationship between computing and finance. As an engineer in another industry you might be really engaged with the tech but kind of disconnected from the business as a whole; in fintech you get to learn and engage with every aspect of what you’re building.
I also wanted to help build something from the ground-up and take a really active part in making a new idea happen.
Unlike many other members of the team, I wasn’t part of the Freetrade community. I went through a recruiter who matched my profile with the backend engineer role here. After a Skype call with Andre (the CTO), I was invited to interview at Freetrade’s offices in Soho. Since you’re reading this interview, you can probably guess that it went ok.
The last step was the easiest. As a young fintech startup with exciting challenges and huge potential growth ahead, Freetrade ticked all my boxes. I accepted the offer and after 6 weeks notice and 2 hours on the Eurostar, I was ready to start my new job here in London.
Working at such an early stage startup gives you amazing possibilities.
You don’t just get to learn about new and exciting technologies, you have to truly master them because you’re responsible for their implementation and use within the company. Coming from a big company where everybody has a set role, I really appreciate the breadth and diversity of the work: the opportunity to develop new skills everyday.
Building a zero-fee stock-broker, you also end up learning a lot about the financial world and investing, which has been fresh and interesting.
The size of the company also makes it very easy to interact with other members of the team and share knowledge across fields.
I’m mainly working on automating the different processes that will get our code into production in a secure, well tested manner.
This will prove very useful when it’s time to roll out new features to our customers ASAP or if we need to fix the odd bug (should they happen, obviously).
My most significant other job right now is developing the backend service for depositing and withdrawing client money when the app comes out. This is a pretty interesting engineering challenge. I’m also working more and more on migrating existing code parts to a serverless architecture using Google Cloud Functions.
Switching from a publicly listed company with thousands of employees to an early-stage startup, you can imagine the differences are big and many.
The first thing you notice is how quickly you can get things done once you get rid of all the bureaucracy imposed in big companies. It doesn’t mean that decisions are rushed; the level of professionalism and care is even more important given how impactful your actions are.
You can’t hide, but it makes you an important part of the company, and that makes it so much more rewarding. You can really feel that everyone is truly involved and working towards achieving a common goal.
Building something from the ground up comes with a lot of challenges.
Every decision you make is potentially important, so you have to be agile and build something that works now, while also making sure that it’ll stay viable in the future. It’s a fast paced environment and you probably will have to give the job a bit more of yourself, but I think it’s worth it in the end, for everything it brings you from a technical and personal point of view.
Apart from all the engineering challenges I mentioned before, I’m really excited about the product. I can’t wait to see how the audience will respond to it and if we can really start up a new trend of share investing across millennials in the UK and beyond.
It’s been cool getting to know the pub and restaurant scene over here, there’s so much diversity and excitement, especially around Soho, near our offices.
No, there wasn’t an app good enough yet, so I’m helping to build one 🔥
We’re hiring! Do you want to scale Freetrade to millions of customers? Work on our upcoming Android app? Launch new markets? Check out our careers page for new engineering positions & more.
This should not be read as personal investment advice and individual investors should make their own decisions or seek independent advice.
When you invest, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
Freetrade is a trading name of Freetrade Limited, which is a member firm of the London Stock Exchange and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales (no. 09797821).