Hearing from: Yasmina Siadatan, Chief Revenue Officer of Dynamic Planner

Home  ❯  Interview   ❯   Hearing from: Yasmina Siadatan, Chief Revenue Officer of Dynamic Planner

21st February, 2024 Chantal Swainston 1 Comment

With ‘The Apprentice’ in full swing on the BBC, we got to sit down with 2009 winner Yasmina Siadatan. Yasmina has gone from restaurant owner to celebrity business icon, to working her way up the ranks at Dynamic Planner, a leading fintech company.

She shared the highs and lows of the journey with us here today…

Tell us a bit about yourself, and your career so far?
So I’m Yasmina, and I am the Chief Revenue Officer of a fintech company called Dynamic Planner. We help match people to suitable investment portfolios so they can fund the things they need in life.

What kind of customers are you working with – is the goal to make financial planning more accessible to the average person? 
We’re predominantly a B2B2C organisation and we work with financial planners and wealth managers to help them service the end customer. That end customer could either already have a financial plan in place, or it could be someone who wants to access a financial plan. 

There’s a huge untapped market in this space, and it’s still quite expensive to deliver because the technology hasn’t caught up. But that’s what we do. We’re helping to give the industry technology that lowers the cost to serve and open up access to financial advice for millions of people.

And how long have you been with Dynamic Planner?
Eight years! Sometimes I can’t believe it when I say it out loud but the reason I’m still here after that long is because every year the business has changed and my role has changed. So I’ve had a different role almost every year since I started. We’re in a completely different phase of growth and we’re a completely different organisation to the one I joined eight years ago.

What were you doing when you started and how has that changed? 
So I started as a marketing consultant, when there was very little marketing or sales being done. Then it grew to be head of marketing, then marketing director, then I became sales and marketing director, and then I took over client success. Now I’m CRO and I have marketing and sales directors that report into me – so that’s been my progression really. I’ve got the responsibility for the whole go-to-market function.

Do you think it’s easier or harder to do your role having been in the trenches of all the steps before?
There’s definitely two sides to that coin. While I have lots of knowledge about our customer and our business, and a deep understanding of our product – what I don’t have is experience in how to scale a SaaS business. So I’m recruiting and working with people who are much more experienced there than me there, and I’m learning so much and still really enjoying it.

How did you get into fintech and what do you find most interesting / exciting about it?
I’ve never worked in financial services or technology before this role, but I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve worked in completely different industries my whole life. I really thrive in learning completely new things, but I find you can apply the same basic “common sense” which is ultimately focusing relentlessly on the customer, to most roles. It just so happens that it comes really naturally to me, and I’m glad that that’s useful!

I studied Economics at University, and when I graduated a lot of my friends went out and got what I would consider ‘proper jobs’ in things like management consulting or investment banking. I remember watching them all and thinking, I don’t even understand what that is! I didn’t have a clue about any of it, but I thought “wouldn’t it be nice to have a ’proper job’”. 

And that was the extent of my ambitions for working in finance and tech, I just thought it was something for other people.

What sort of jobs did you take after University?
I had my own restaurant for years in Caversham in Reading, and that’s where I first started running businesses. Back then, it was nowhere near as trendy and cool as it is now to run a restaurant. I did it because I needed a job and I wanted to run a business. It was very much focused on giving myself a role rather than a deep rooted passion for food.

(As a side note, The London food scene has mushroomed so much and it’s been amazing, and it’s just fantastic as a consumer because we get to eat really nice sourdough almost everywhere whereas 15 years ago you couldn’t).

And then I went on to win ‘The Apprentice’ in 2009…

I was in my late twenties and I almost quadrupled my salary overnight and enjoyed some fun parties along the way. But I didn’t go into it wanting to have a career in media, so the aftermath after I won was quite overwhelming. 

Suddenly I was being asked to talk on stages about how women are hitting glass ceilings, and how they should be planning their career paths. Whilst I’ve got an opinion on absolutely everything, I felt like a fraud because all I had done was win a TV show! It felt a bit uncomfortable to me.

After that, I went to go and work for James Cahn, and it sounds a bit show-bizzy but it wasn’t at all. My mum was a housekeeper, and from that we ended up having a chance connection to one of James’ colleagues who’s now a good friend of mine. He introduced us as part of some work I was going to do, but James ended up saying “Don’t work for him, come and work for me”.

So after I’d had my children, instead of a relaxed entry back into work I hit the ground running in a private equity house in Mayfair. It was so much fun and James is a brilliant character.

We were approached by the government at the time to start up an extended version of The Princes’ Trust (a charity which provides loans and mentors for underprivileged people who want to start businesses). They would lend money and find mentors for these people and David Cameron wanted to essentially open it up, and give that entrepreneurship support to anyone who wanted to start a business (within reason, no millionaires!)

I worked on that for a few years but then my relationship broke down and I became a single parent very quickly. My priorities changed, and I wanted to find a job that was a ten minute drive from my kids’ school gates. I went out and found Ben’s business and I’ve stayed because I love it (Ben Goss is CEO of Dynamic Planner). The kids are now at secondary school and I could go off and do whatever I want, but I genuinely want to be here doing this.

We focus a lot on public speaking at The Heard. How do you find public speaking and what has been the biggest or best speaking opportunity you’ve had to date?
I love it. I love it, I think it’s an absolute privilege to be honest and I’d never really done it before The Apprentice, the most I’d ever done was stand up in front of a class of other undergraduates at university. I would always be really nervous, and in fact back then I absolutely hated it like most people – I don’t think anyone is born with the ability to stand up and speak without bags of practice.

So with The Apprentice, I got absolutely thrust into having to do it and in the final it was the most terrifying thing I’d ever had to do. I had to stand on stage in front of 400 people and I was pitching a retail product, so I had the CEO of John Lewis, CEO of Sainsburys, Lord Sugar, and Nick and Margaret and everyone in the room as well as four camera crews that were all pointed at me. I knew it was going out on the final, and I knew about 10 million people watched the final at that time, so I knew whatever I was saying was going to be listened to by 10 million people.

But I did it, and I ended up winning so I think I did alright (Margaret told me I absolutely nailed it thank god!). But what it’s done for me is immediately given me this experience where I can always look back and say – if I did that on The Apprentice I can do this. 

I still get nervous now, and I have to give myself a pep talk, but I still see it as a privilege.

What’s been the biggest win of your career to date?
Genuinely my biggest win is that I have two beautiful children, who I think I’ve mothered as best I can. I’ve been there for them, and also had a really fulfilling career, and one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that it’s actually quite difficult to achieve that. You either have to go one way or the other, and having both is a real privilege. I think I’ll always look back and see that as a huge win.

What’s your best advice for women wanting to get into fintech?
Just go for it! I know it’s such a cliche, but I’ve worked with and been friends with and interviewed and seen so many amazing women who don’t feel like they’re as good as they really are. 

I absolutely understand it, because I felt like an intruder all of my teenage years and at university, I just didn’t think I was good enough. But once I won The Apprentice I remember thinking, “you’re actually alright, you’re worth it you can do stuff”!  I feel so blessed to have that lesson so early in my life. 

And then my other advice would be: always ask for more, always strive for more, and never think there’s any reason why you can’t do it.

One response to “Hearing from: Yasmina Siadatan, Chief Revenue Officer of Dynamic Planner”

  1. Sini Boateng says:

    Thanks so much for sharing Yasmina. Recently, having also been thrust into working with dufferent industries (which includes fintech), it’s really reassuring to hear that common sense is a great base to have and challenge that imposter syndrome creeping in!

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