Making a career change during a pandemic is no easy task, however, it is one that this VP not only managed, but thrived from. Ilana Fass is a FinTech Banking executive passionate about supporting her clients, the continuation of FinTech innovation, and being a supportive player in the resurgence of New York City. Ilana opened up to us about her career, and how she has developed professionally alongside the FinTech industry.
"Giving everyone ownership over the products and systems that control their financial lives is a personal passion, which means my team and I work hard to reach and finance founders from all backgrounds."
Full name: Ilana Fass
Current job title: VP, FinTech Banking
Current company: Silicon Valley Bank
Current location: New York City, New York
Works from: Home
Favorite hobby: Exploring NYC’s food, art, and fashion design scene.
Ilana Fass started her career in FinTech at Barclays, on a team set out to build an Open Innovation platform that would allow them to partner with emerging Financial Technology startups in four key locations. Her role was to validate this proposition for the bank, by launching and building innovation hubs in Tel Aviv and New York, and making them come to life with strategic programming, memberships, and value driven communities. By creating a home for FinTech in these key locations, Ilana found herself to be on the cusp of financial innovation at a time of critical change. Since then, FinTech has gone from a niche, sidelined vertical into the mainstream of both business banking and consumer facing finance.
“I’ve been lucky enough to mirror the arch of my career with the arch of the financial technology industry, and I’ve moved from supporting the cutting edge of FinTech into the financing of it.”
This past fall, Ilana transitioned from the Barclays Innovation team to the FinTech Banking team at Silicon Valley Bank, where she specializes in debt financing solutions for FinTech companies. “Silicon Valley Bank is an outstanding bank for entrepreneurs, and the products and partnerships we are able to offer out to startups is a dream come true as the next step in my FinTech career.”
Ilana works on a specialized FinTech banking team at Silicon Valley Bank, working with clients following their Series A funding. Ilana’s job is to first make sure her clients have a full understanding of the financing and banking solutions SVB can offer to propel their company forward. Holistically, her role involves utilizing the full platform at SVB- which over the past 10+ years has truly developed an outstanding FinTech offering. From debt financing, to merchant services, payment enablement, and Warehouse solutions, Ilana gets to liaison between her clients and internal experts and builds personalized tech, capital, and banking solutions that work for each client and their business models.
“We commonly quote that 78% of Forbes FinTech 50 bank with SVB, which is just one indicator underscoring the caliber of the clients we get to work with in New York City. The quality and scale of these amazing companies are truly unprecedented, and I take daily inspiration from the amazing clients I get to bank.”
Ilana strongly believes in the power of innovation to democratize technology and allow people from all backgrounds to create products that directly serve their communities. In FinTech, this enables a more inclusive financial future for all. “New York City is leading the way in this space- from investment platforms to gig economy financial solutions, I get to partner with founders building for those largely omitted from the traditional financial narrative and empowering those traditionally disenfranchised by the financial sector. Giving everyone ownership over the products and systems that control their financial lives is a personal passion, which means my team and I work hard to reach and finance founders from all backgrounds.”
When asked about current work projects, Ilana is very excited to be preparing for New York City’s ‘comeback’ this summer.
“We have a couple of amazing initiatives in the works, and I’m so excited for them to launch this spring. There is nothing like a New York City FinTech founder- add hustle, drive, and a no-nonsense New York attitude together, you’re going to get the secret sauce needed to make your company soar. Supporting those founders, and doubling down on New York City during the pandemic, has been extremely rewarding.”
Ilana notes that more and more of SVB’s clients are slowly moving back to the city and setting up their teams for a post-COVID world.
“Having been in New York throughout the whole pandemic, I’ve seen the city go through a crazy transformation, and I think the version of the city that people are returning to is more affordable and ripe for new incumbency of talent and disruption. There is still a lot more to do to make sure that talent comes back to the city, and I can’t wait to be part of the comeback effort.”
During our interview with Ilana, she couldn’t help and reflect on how this past year was a challenge for all of us in so many ways. Having joined the SVB team during the pandemic, she overcame starting a new job in a remote environment. Ilana is thankful that SVB did a tremendous job ensuring a smooth experience for all of their remote employees.
Fortunately, Ilana did not have to face the struggle of joining a new firm during COVID-19 alone. “Thanks to a great personal and professional network, including my supportive manager, fantastic colleagues, various business mentors, and my New York City FinTech network, I’ve been able to hit the ground running. I’m still extremely excited for our return to office and being able to meet our clients in person again. Looking forward to doing my part in rebuilding New York City’s tech scene one coffee meeting at a time!”
Ilana lives in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood with her husband Jonathan. She is originally from Tel Aviv, Israel.
5:45 am: Time to get the day started! My husband usually goes running outside, and I get the Peloton to myself.
7:00 am: Over breakfast, I always do a 30-minute personal finance check in, where I review my accounts, my budget for the month, and my portfolio. I also do a review of the NY Times and Wall Street Journal.
8:00 am: Start client calls. We have a lot of clients and prospects with joint Tel Aviv/New York headquarters, so our calls tend to start pretty early.
10:00 to 11:30 am: Time to catch up on emails and BD. One of my main projects is to strategize and execute business development initiatives for our national practice. This makes CB Insights and Pitchbook essential, and I usually spend a good chunk of time on both throughout the day.
11:30 am: I do a lot of mentorship and career coaching- because I’ve worked in both Tel Aviv and New York, I can answer a lot of questions for people who want to work in FinTech in both ecosystems.
12:00 pm: husband and I have both scheduled in a daily walk on the High Line during lunch. We don’t miss a day!
12:30 to 2:30 pm: New prospect calls - I love hearing about new initiatives from repeat founders and to meet new clients. We start by talking through the SVB offering, and I start to structure a personalized menu of debt and banking solutions that best fit their needs. Our FinTech team also has a dedicated compliance and KYC lead, which allows us to work with FinTechs at a competitive speed compared to the market.
2:30 pm: Today I have a diligence call with an investor in one of our companies. We first catch up on the VC partner’s thoughts on the future of remote work, and then dive into my questions about the company.
3:00 pm: An ice coffee break, even in the dead of winter.
3:30 to 6:00 pm: Then it’s time for internal calls and existing client check ins! We have a few great new debt proposals out, so I check in with clients to see if they have any questions. I also review a few pending proposals with our awesome Credit Solutions team. I’ll do a few back-to-back internal calls, and do a final sweep of emails at the end of the day.
6:00 to 7:00 pm: Depending on the day, I’ll either jump around a few Clubhouse conversations, or join a virtual networking event. Expanding my network despite the remote environment is extremely important to me. I also love hosting events (our next one for SVB is coming up on April 21st!).
7:00 to 8:00 pm: Time to watch TV and relax. My husband and I met in the Foreign Affairs/Strategic Division of the Israeli Military, so our love of political science and government will always be something that unites us. Though we could probably just watch Veep on repeat for the rest of our lives, our current favorite is a Danish political drama called Borgen. It follows the rise and corruption of an idealistic female prime minister - outstanding!
8:00 to 9:00 pm: While watching TV, vaccine research has become a personal hobby of mine. During the past few months I’ve helped family and friends navigate the crazy world that is vaccine appointments. I spend this time catching up on vaccine regulations and update the guide that I put together for appointment bookings in New York and Florida (where my parents live).
9:00 pm: Time to virtually catch up with friends, organize the house, and get ready for another day of Fintech banking.
Reach out to Ilana on LinkedIn.