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S3E14: Top Tips for Partnerships in the
Fintech Space

Show Synopsis

This week, on the EMEA Partner Channel Podcast, the voice of the EMEA channel. Join Palmer Foster who has a conversation with Alan Walsh, Global Head of Partnerships at Trade Ledger and a mentor on Accenture’s Tech Innovation Lab. 

Together they talk about:

  • Partnership ecosystems within the Fintech space
  • Top Tips for Partnerships

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The Script

Welcome to the new EMEA Partner Channel podcast, where we sit down with the EMEA channel leaders who share their stories to help those of you just starting a partnership role, the channel experts looking to revamp their program or anyone in between.

Palmer Foster: Welcome, everybody, to the new EMEA Partner Channel podcast. Though at this point it’s not so new But anyways, I’m Palmer Foster, the account director for EMEA at Allbound. And joining me today for this series is Alan Walsh, the global head of partnerships at Trade Ledger. I’m very excited about this episode just because I have a personal connection with Alan. We used to work together, so I know he’s got a vast amount of knowledge with channel and partnerships, so this is going to be a cracking episode. But Alan, welcome. It’s great to have you here. Um, you know, rather than trying to talk through your background or kind of give that brief introduction, I think it’s probably a bit better to let you do that just given the extensive knowledge and experience that you have.

Alan Walsh: Well, thank you, Palmer, and thanks for inviting me here on your podcast today. Much appreciated. So yeah, quick intro from myself then, as you say, Alan Walsh, head of partnerships at Trade Ledger. Uh, Trade Ledger is a lending as a service platform that we license to banks to effectively help them get capital out to businesses faster than what is currently happening in that sort of ecosystem space today. So I’ve been doing that with trade ledger for about 15, 16 months or so now, but my sort of background has been in commercial banking where I was at Barclays and then GE and then Amex, American Express for over about a 15 year period in different commercial roles from marketing, Bizdev partnerships, marketing. I mentioned marketing twice. But yeah, that’s a big a big driver for me, the marketing piece as well. Um, and then I guess after that I moved into the start up fintech space probably about seven years ago now. And a big driver for that was I was seeing lots of people leave sort of corporate space to go and start in these start ups, whether themselves or join as early, early followers, if you like. Um, and I just started to look into it as part of my role at American Express, where I was director of digital strategy at the time. And it just fascinated me how quickly the likes of Monzo and Starling in these days would just sort of really ramping up with a really sort of community fostered agenda around how to drive a business and specifically a bank. And then I moved into start up space very early stage as part of the founding team of a business called Bud, which is in the open banking space.

Palmer Foster:  I’d be very interested to understand before you really start moving into kind of the the ecosystem space, did you have much involvement or touching of of that area before or was it something that was foreign to you? Because you think about anyone moving into that type of role, they’ve probably never been exposed to it. So I’d be really curious to understand kind of what was your. Knowledge or kind of understanding of that space before you even moved into it?

Alan Walsh:  Like I say, really the first the first one I really remember was actually Tandem Bank, okay, which almost predated Monzo and Starling just just ever so slightly. But I remember reading about it and being really fascinated about the approach. And like I said, it was very community led. So you became a member before a customer, if you like, with ideas of how you could help drive the product roadmap, etcetera, with ideas of what you wanted a current account to do, for example. Um, but like I say, as part of my role within American Express. I was sort of privy to some of these businesses that was coming up at the time, and a lot of banks had just started to create sort of innovation hubs.   American Express, again, one of those, and there would be a number of people that would tend to be down in a basement with lots of whiteboards around the office. And these were the days where in corporate banking everyone was wearing suits and ties still. But the innovation team were allowed to wear jeans and t shirts type thing so you could really notice them from everyone else.

So that certainly stood out, I guess, at the start. And I started to do some work with them and was just very interested at how quickly they could spin up an MVP or a proof of concept. I guess the challenge then, and I have spoken about this in the past as well, is for a bank to get something off the ground internally still took a significant amount of effort, resource and time, So it’s probably a more cost effective way to follow a Challenger bank. 

See what products work and really resonate, and then copy the success and see that it’s a tried and tested idea, if you like.

Palmer Foster: Well, exactly. And both you and I are aware, having worked in that space of a lot of these challenger banks, are associated to the more traditional players. So they have that kind of testing ground or sandbox environment to kind of go out and figure out, okay, is this actually going to work? Is it going to resonate with our with our clientele? But obviously, they’re testing new things. And with everything, you know, you know, the whole point of the podcast is to talk about partnerships and partnerships for a certain industry. Look like, you know, type A versus another industry. It’s type B and it might not seem like there’s crossover, So obviously the fintech space especially, you don’t often think of kind of a channel program, but they very clearly exist. And you’ve, you’ve found a fantastic niche there and what you’ve been able to accomplish, not just at trade ledger, but previously. So it’d be great to understand kind of how you initially got into that. I know you kind of made the move into fintech from Amex, but you know, where did partnerships kind of start to come into the picture for you?

Alan Walsh: Yeah, I almost feel like it’s something that probably happened as a kid where if I if I really think back, I almost feel like partnerships is where it’s like trading. I need something. You’ve got it, but I can’t pay you for it. If I think about as a poor kid with very little money but trying to do something, you would try and it would be as simple as, I don’t know, swapping cards or whatever it may be, or being quite entrepreneurial as well. I remember we used to buy packets of chewing gum and sell little pieces of them at a 10 pound piece of, for example, I.

Palmer Foster: I remember selling, I think soda on a on a bus to it on a school trip once. I was the only one with drinks and I figured I might as well make some money. 

Alan Walsh:  I think that was it. There was always something there with a, there was that sort of collaboration piece and I think and I’m obviously biased, haven’t been in partnerships probably the last six seven years now but I believe businesses certainly in the enterprise space in banking but also specifically in fintech are a lot more collaborative than they ever used to be. And I speak from example whereby whereby even in the banking world where historically you would have Chinese walls up effectively, so you would have a big part of the business. So for example, at American Express, you would have one part, which was the proprietary cards, which is your traditional sort of green gold black type card, and then your co-branded cards, which would be your BA, your virgin, your Costco, etcetera. And those two sides of the business could sort of never really speak to each other, even though they were both trying to deliver the same message. As far as the core values of the brand, for example. And those walls have been massively knocked down now through things like sort of open data where actually it’s much more powerful to know the individual, even though they may have multiple products. And again, a an example I used to always give was when I worked at Barclays, I had a mortgage, a credit card and a loan or a current account with them, but I was effectively three different customers. Those three different divisions were three different businesses didn’t speak to each other. So I would get three different pieces of mail and it was just massively inefficient. So the partnership piece has happened as much internally within organizations as it has externally within the ecosystem.

And I think certainly from my experience, fintech has been a massive, probably advocate and early proponent of that, whereby it’s a David and Goliath story. If you’re a small fintech, you’ve got very, very limited funds, limited resource, etcetera, versus a big bank, a Visa, a MasterCard, Amex or any of the sort of main banks, if you like, as well. So you have to hustle. And by coming together, one plus one equals three, that old cliche massively helps. I actually think it’s gone a step further now where you have almost co-opetition, where competitive brands historically have come together for the better good. And again, that goes into every industry. And I’ll give an example whereby if you look at people like Sky and Netflix and Prime and Disney and all the rest of these, they’re all vying for your attention. But for the common good of the customer and the user experience, they’re they’re now allowing you to sort of see on your sky homepage now all the different programs that are on because they realize that people go to look at different content on different platforms, whereas it’s just it was always very much boxed in those walls, like I mentioned earlier, in the banking situation. So it’s been a huge way that that’s changed and obviously a huge supporter of that and trying to drive that. And I think the value in that is how you can find that common good for the customer is going to drive both businesses on even if you are somewhat competitive there. And that’s something certainly that I look to drive. 

Palmer Foster: Do you think the customer has been the catalyst for it or do you think challengers of fintechs have been the catalyst or are they the results of the customer being the catalyst because they can create change faster like we were talking about earlier, versus a legacy player coming in and trying to quickly change things?

Alan Walsh: Yeah, interesting question. I’ve not really thought about it like that before, but it’s probably there’s probably been a bit of a parallel where they’ve come together. So the, the customer has had a lot more voice. With the advent of social media, there’s a lot more power that comes back to you. But with your question, you’re right. It’s almost like that’s happened and given an awareness to the problem. But the businesses have not been able to react to that, possibly until startups, fintech and the sort of tech scene has come along. And I think what the fintech scene has done. And now other brands and sort of big enterprise clients are doing is using that voice of the customer. In fact, it’s on a lot of metrics on sort of reports, board reports, etcetera, voice of the customer management, etcetera. How. Listening to your audience and reacting to that in a timely fashion is going to be more beneficial to you as your business and your bottom line and everything else that comes with it.

Palmer Foster: Yeah, and what’s so interesting about it too, especially when we were working together, is to see some of the projects that you don’t normally think of as partnerships like Santander and their business onboarding, how they were able to use multiple partnerships to vastly reduce that that processing time, or somebody like Tide where they are a challenger, but using other solutions to kind of build that out and reduce a lot of friction for people. But something I’d be curious to to ask you and I know you’re not so much in the insurance space, but it’s kind of that second player in the space where you see things going on with the financial services and they’re a bit ahead of kind of where insurance is. Do you see because again, it’s a case of with financial services, you don’t normally think of partnerships or or a channel program ecosystem however you want to think of it. Do you think that will have the same effect on insurance or is it already happening? 

Alan Walsh: It’s already happening, but exactly like you say. Palmer at a much slower pace. And but an example, I guess, of where things like that are happening. In my opinion, and as a customer of vitality, I get rewarded for being healthier. I will get discounts and things like that. There’s a long way to go, no doubt about it. But there’s still a long way to go in the banking space, both retail all the way up to sort of private and and commercial as well. And that’s why I mentioned open data earlier. There’s so much more to be uncovered with that understanding, the different categorizations behind that of how someone behaves. Insurance is a really interesting one, though, as well, because technology is evolving so much. And I remember reading about a few years ago, Smart Toilets, where you’d go to the toilet in the morning and it would take almost like a test of your sample, connect to your phone and tell you if you’re sort of diabetes level is up or if you need a checkup on this or what sort of nutrients you need in your diet.

Palmer Foster: I don’t know if that’s brilliant or horrifying.

Alan Walsh: It sounds very scary, But I mean, again, if you were to know 20 years ago that you would have something in your pocket that would be able to sort of do everything it does for you as well, you’d be horrified at that or that someone could find out wherever you were at any moment in time type thing. But it’s all to me, it’s all about the value exchange. So what do you get back in return? So if you’re subscribing to, let’s say, for example, that intelligent Toilet, what’s the benefits of that in the long run if it’s linked to insurance and oh God, if every time I go out and have a drink and go and have fun with my friends, my premium is going to jump up, then possibly not. But if it actually it’s going to help indicate to get your life and your health back on track or for your kids, for example. Very, very interesting to to look at how that works. But there has to be a lot of trust. Yeah, I think that’s where we are as a country. There’s a lot of trust that’s been eroded anyway.

Palmer Foster: And I think a lot of countries are probably going through that. But that’s a completely different road that we probably don’t want to go down, but and it’s funny enough that you’re talking about the smart toilet because yeah, it ties to insurance, but then you start thinking about, well, there’s a lot of medical technology going on. And so then you have that bridge being crossed. And so it’s quite easy to quickly see how these, these ecosystems or partnerships, however you want to define that label it start to build out. And it’s funny you mentioned vitality because it’s quite easy to overlook something as simplistic as that. Not that it’s simplistic, but the fact that you can get what is it you can get Amazon Prime benefits, you can get cinema, cinema and stuff on there, and that is a partnership. And you just kind of overlook it because maybe it is so natural now that it’s that’s what you expect from things. And it’s quite easy to see those partnerships, but you need to take a moment to stop and think, Oh, this actually is a partnership that I’m benefiting from. But bringing it back to kind of trade ledger and what you’ve been up to, I know you’ve do a lot of things with accelerators and kind of trying to urge that sense of, hey, look to partner, build out ecosystems. What’s that journey been like for yourself?

Alan Walsh: So there’s been a number of things, I guess, that have changed. And it was probably during the pandemic where you’ve got a bit more reflective reflection time. And so with the accelerator that you allude to there. Palmer So I’m a mentor on the Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab, and that’s come about because I went through that in 2016, 2017 with Bud. So have experience of sort of going through the three month program and then have been helping out for this is my third year now. So we have about 20 companies every year that go through the program and it’s effectively helping guide them with whatever different skill set you have. Obviously mine being sort of the partnership piece. Um, for me, it’s just a really good way to a give back, which I know sounds really cheesy, but it’s something I genuinely enjoy doing and I think it’s because I genuinely love joining dots together and because part of the value to me and part of my role at Trade ledger is understanding what’s happening in the ecosystem. This is a great way for me to keep abreast of new businesses, new trends, new technologies that are coming into the fray.

 I try and bridge the two together as well. And I guess that’s part and parcel of my partnership hat, if you like. And as you know from the Judiel days when I was at Judiel as well, there were a couple of partnerships that came up from going through the lab there as well with the likes of Umaasa, etcetera. Um, so. I guess, like I said, it’s understanding the stage they’re at and being able to help them articulate the way they’re going and if that is the right way or if there’s some tweaks to be made. 

A lot of that probably comes from maybe lessons learned more where you went wrong as opposed to where you went right. Because you probably learned those lessons faster and harder. It’s something that I think the cohort every year in the three years I’ve been doing it are very appreciative of because having been through the lab, they’re a lot more receptive to maybe what I’ve got to say.

Palmer Foster: Yeah, absolutely. I know you’ve got a lot to say and a lot of experience with it. You know, I’ve seen resources you’ve put together and they’re absolutely fantastic. And just given your background one question I personally want to ask you and very curious, because again, when we were at Doodle, it’s it was a different kind of space. But you think of channel programs, it’s always. You typically think of like a reseller or a referral partner. Now, in fintech, that’s not so much the case. You do get that, but it’s usually a kind of different type of partnership. But even in that space, how do you find the harmony or maybe lack of harmony between like a direct sales team versus partnering up with something? What’s the dynamic that you tend to see like at trade ledger? Do you guys have conflict? Is it harmonious? What’s that experience been like?

Alan Walsh: Like I said, I’ve been there about 15, 16 months or so. I would say from a sales and partnership angle together. It’s very harmonious. But that’s because I work very closely with the sales leader there, Roger Vincent, who I had sort of done some projects with prior to joining. So, so that certainly helps. There’s an existing relationship before going into work together. And specifically with Trade Ledger, we’re selling to largely Tier one banks, so it’s large, lengthy sales cycles that are anything between 18 months to three years potentially plus. So for a sales team at a fintech to do that, that’s a significant amount of resource time and labor involved to do so. So we’re partners come in is to help circumvent and speed that process up, add credibility, help with awareness, distribution. This comes back to the marketing piece as well. From the start that the partners we have at trade ledger are hugely successful, huge, scalable international businesses such as the likes of Systems Integration Partners, so our consultancies, KPMG, Accenture, etcetera, and then big tech partners such as Microsoft, Thought Machine, Finastra, etcetera. So, so all of those names are well known around the ecosystem and the industry and the world. They help open doors, they help add real credibility to who we are and what we do. And the value to those partners is they’re buying into the vision that we’re building, which is that piece to get the right capital to the right business at the time they need.

Alan Walsh: And given the current climate we’re in, there has never been such a time needed, which is crazy to say, given we’re in a pandemic only two years ago and it was needed hugely there. But sadly, that’s the state of the world that we’re in. So our technology allows banks to do that, and they’re interested in increasing their loan book and getting that out. The partners are interested in sort of delivering that for for the banks. So it’s that ecosystem coming together where there’s joint value, joint strength and a lot of white space. So there may be some areas where we cross over, but there’s a lot more white space where actually we all massively help each other. And we’re very fortunate at trade ledger in that space because the team have built a significantly powerful product at a time that’s needed. It’s it’s significantly and replicable and scalable. And that’s testament. You can see to the clients we’ve got the likes of HSBC live in in 1213 markets. So. And that, I would almost say is a big from an awareness and marketing standpoint. If you’ve got an HSBC live in 12 markets, that helps the big players stand up and be interested. Um, so, so yeah, we’re in a good place there and there’s certainly a lot more to come.

Palmer Foster: In the fintech space,  everyone’s kind of playing a piece in that puzzle. And everyone’s helping each other, especially now when you think of times of economic recession or, you know, unchartered water like the pandemic. And I guess one thing I would love to understand is, as you have all these players coming together,  would you say their addressable market expands or is it stay the same? Because theoretically you’re all in the kind of overall, say, market of say, fintech, but you’re working together to build a complete piece. Is it a case that, hey, there’s new people you can go after, or is it a case that that pool is still the same? And how do you handle that approach then to signing clients?

 Alan Walsh: So we’re in what we term sort of we’re a bit of a market maker. So if you look at what’s happened with lending in the retail space and we’ve talked about the Monzo’s and Revolut’s of the world, they’ve made it much easier, as has open banking, where there’s much more data transparency. So you can check affordability, as is the development of APIs. So you can sort of get these multiple data feeds. That hasn’t really happened in the commercial banking space. So we’re effectively taking that into the commercial banking space. So when you talk about sort of market size, the size of the market is X billion target operating model there, if you like, or target addressable market. Sorry. What we’re talking about is is getting the funds to people faster. Now that should allow the businesses to then be able to A, survive, but B grow. So if all those businesses grow, they’re going to bring in more, more staff, They’re going to be able to sell more product, etcetera. They’re going to need more capital again. So it’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. And then you start to get deeper. You can start to do sort of different use cases and different products that are added to that as well. So there’s a lot, lot more that you can do even with that. Uh, existing pool of customers, if you like.

Palmer Foster: Yeah. And so having gone through all of this and and obviously where you’re at, what are your top tips to for partnership Programs, whether they’re just starting out or kind of already in the process? Because I know you you do a bit of this kind of advisory. Um, you know, you don’t have to give us the whole, the whole, uh, playbook because I know that might be something you want to hold on to, but if you can kind of indulge us a bit. 

Alan Walsh:  For me, and this is what I’ve done at the last sort of several businesses I’ve worked at, and it’s picking up expertise along the way and working with other sort of partnership leaders and commercial leaders as well. But the key and I think this goes back to what we said at the start is the ecosystem is a lot more collaborative. So you need to map out that ecosystem to start. Who are the different providers in the space that you’re in that exist first and foremost? Who of those do you know? Do you sort of. A lot of it then is education. Speak to those organizations and see where there is a joint value, joint opportunity. And then from there you can have the conversations and quantify whether there’s a partnership opportunity there. And then what we tend to do is do sort of some account mapping then to understand, well, who are you targeting, who do you work with? And is there ideally, is there a customer or potential customer with both speaking to because there’s nothing like a fish on the hook that you’re about to land that is going to sort of drive momentum with that and action. It’s nice and easy to talk about sort of blue sky, thinking of what it could be, but actually you need to sort of timebox it effectively.

 So having a potential client there is a big driver for that. And we’ve we’ve used that to good effect with all the partners we work with. And then really just sort of mapping out that value proposition together because like I say, there will be gray, gray space where you cross over, but you need to land on what that white space is and be very clear and articulate with each other of what we will do versus what you will do. Then you’ve sort of got a proof of concept that you know can work and then it’s effectively taking it to market, talking about it. And I think again, going back to the marketing piece, the fintech space is very, very good at  creating some noise around what’s happening. To some degree, a lot more noise than actual substance, but that’s also becoming a lot, a lot clearer I think, these days as well. And I think certainly with the partners, we work with big enterprise grade partners. They want some real substance behind that before they will sort of put their name to paper. And then a big one for me, which I think is often often missed, is the sort of champion those partners on an ongoing basis because you may not be working with them as regularly as you like or as much as you anticipated, but you can still be a cheerleader of theirs by shouting about the success they’ve had or complimenting them. And this is all sort of on the social platforms, LinkedIn in particular, and doing shared content, doing podcasts like this together as well. And I do believe that if you can continue to do that, that helps sort of extend your reach within the sort of social media space as well.

Palmer Foster: At the very start where you kept mentioning marketing probably comes into play because it is a case of, hey, we’re doing these great things with the partner because you want to make them feel validated, you want to make them feel welcomed. And if you’re not giving them that time of day, well then why would they keep coming back to you? That’s, you know, that’s one of the biggest. I would say fears potentially for people and in partnership is I keep my brand front of mind for my partner. How do I know they’re going to keep coming back to us, keep bringing us that business or working with us prioritizing our integrations? Um, but when you first really moved into partnerships and I know you said it started at childhood selling off pieces of, of gum, but what was kind of your first role and what really helped you, kind of. Get up and running. Like if you could go back and identify, Hey, this is something that I really wish I knew sooner.

Alan Walsh:  So when I joined Bud, there was 5 or 6 of us in the business. It was sort of pre-product pre-revenue, pre funding anything really. Um. And we were launching our sort of first beta app and I’d come in with a sort of marketing role, marketing hat on, and we didn’t really make it. We had no budget. We didn’t really make much noise of it. And I remember saying to the CEO that that was my my fault there. We need to sort of be a bit more creative and understand how things can work. And he said, Well, look, I think because we haven’t got any budget, maybe you should focus more on the partnership side because we were starting to build a marketplace of providers where using open banking data, you could understand more about a customer and then introduce a product that was suitable to them. So that that was probably the real springboard into partnerships. And very quickly my role became not just creating these partnerships, but educating the industry on sort of what open banking would be for them, because open banking is a piece of legislation and regulation from psd2. And it was very much seen as this is a compliance headache that every bank has to do. We’ve got to create APIs and basically unlock our data feeds for for other providers, whereas we completely flipped the script and said, actually, no, it’s a huge commercial opportunity because you can understand a lot more about your customers and therefore the more you understand about them, the better you can serve them. 

So that to me became a real sort of purpose driver for me, and was the empowerment I had of sort of informing people how open banking could be relevant to a pension provider or an investment house or a savings business. A utility business was so early on in open banking. I loved it. And so it became a very quickly built marketplace of over 100 different fintechs and businesses across all different industries. That sort of helped blow up the message. And when I mentioned earlier about sort of champion all of those partners, they were very, very supportive in championing us all along the way as well.

That sort of helped blow up the message. And when I mentioned earlier about sort of champion all of those partners, they were very, very supportive in championing us all along the way as well.

Palmer Foster: Yeah. So the open banking really facilitated kind of a launch into partnerships for fintech in a way of, Hey, we’ve given what you needed to start working with each other to make it a seamless transition for the end client. There’s some skeptics of open banking still in the adoption rate of it. But the fact that it could facilitate this because you pointed out when you move positions or companies sorting out your pensions, all these different things is an absolute headache. You’ve got to remember all these different passwords for all the different pensions you might have, and you’ve got to put them all in the same pot if you want. What do you leave? What do you take? And to provide that kind of scenario where you don’t have to worry about that anymore is very powerful. And again, it’s one of those things that do you think of that normally as a partnership, but in the financial space, that is that is a very powerful partnership. Um, so it’s incredibly fascinating.

Alan Walsh: Yeah, definitely. And it’s only going to grow. I mean, it’s been. A lot slower than anticipated. And I read a report, I think, earlier this week that was saying UK was leading the sort of charge with open banking. It was first sort of mandated here, but it’s falling behind many other countries now. And that was that was a big frustration for me and probably a clear moment of where I realized it wasn’t going to happen as quick. And the reason for that was and I guess to your question and your point was, if you could go back in time where there was it was a shortage of APIs. So that made it difficult to sort of accelerate that marketplace rate. That was also a big, big reason and is a big message I have at the Accenture lab now where and largely, largely speaking, 99.9% of people and businesses now are sort of API led for that same very reason. It allows you to distribute your product in a much more scalable fashion and partnerships significantly easier. And you’re seeing it now everywhere, sort of open APIs. The feedback we got from every client, every partner was how amazing the API docs were as well.

Palmer Foster: So they’re clean, easy to go through, understand all the endpoints, you know, easy and map out to. So absolutely. And you’ve brought up a couple terms a couple times now where you’ve gone from marketplace to partnerships. And if you’re somebody listening to this podcast and you’re new to channel and you’re trying to figure out, okay, what’s right for me, Marketplace Partnerships channel, all these different terms, there’s so many acronyms that get thrown out there and and one term means something to somebody else and completely different. But in your in your experience and your definition, especially within the financial world, what do you do view a marketplace as versus like a partnership?

Alan Walsh: Yeah. And I think for for listeners here as well to sort of really strip it back, it’s just all about collaboration, any of those terms, any types of partnerships. It’s about collaborating people for a common goal. As far as the the difference marketplace to me is almost like a shop window where there’s multiple different products that you can access to. A partnership can be just a 1 to 1. But then that partnership ecosystem builds out when you have more and more partnerships involved there and therefore becomes a marketplace, if you like. 

Palmer Foster: Curveball question for you and as this this series goes on and on, I said with Max, it’s not going to become such a curveball. And you’ve kind of already answered this question. But for somebody just starting out in a partnerships role. What what kind of advice would you give them?

Alan Walsh: I think first and foremost, you need to know who you are as in your business and your vision and your product. So you need to be able to articulate that and what the value is for the customer, whoever that customer audience may be. And then once you know that, and that should be very easy if you’re joining a business because the CEO will have that, had that mapped out is, like I say earlier, map out that ecosystem. And then probably the biggest piece of advice or the best piece of advice I would give anybody young starting out would be just to go fishing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. And certainly for me, LinkedIn is the most powerful tool there. So if you have mapped out your ecosystem and you know, these are the dozen companies that I should be speaking to, send them all a connection with a request, but make it specific to them. Don’t just sort of blanket target 1020 different people, but go to the top. And if you’re getting them early enough, the company will still be quite small and they’ll probably have a lot more time and be open to collaborate and have that conversation. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get it’s as simple as that. So so certainly feel free to go fishing is what I would say.

Palmer Foster: And it helps when you’ve got people like Alan pushing these startups to to collaborate at the get go anyways. But doing your bit. So the final question I’ve got for you is the fun one. I know you kind of peaked ahead to see what was coming, but as it’s the end of the podcast, I ask each of my guests to ask a question for the next one. But that also means you have to answer the previous question from our previous guest. So before we get to your question, Max Boucher from Shopware, who is on our second episode, had this question for you: Looking back at kind of 2020 and 2021,essentially the pandemic, the pandemic forced job approaches to kind of change. So what’s one thing that you’ve learned from going through the pandemic situation that you still apply that you wouldn’t have figured out as a result of that?

Alan Walsh:  I’m an optimistic person, glass half full type. And I actually wrote a couple of blogs on this as well, which is very sad and sort of the positives of the pandemic. And but for me, it is it’s that flexibility approach. So being in charge of your own diary, I mean, no one works a traditional 9 to 5 anymore. And certainly during the pandemic I was only talking about this yesterday as well. There were days where I wouldn’t leave the house two, three days at a time because I would be so busy and used to doing the sort of 9 to 5 and then there’d be calls and work after. It wasn’t good for for anybody in my house, quite frankly, because it just became a lot more stress and my kids and wife were getting the the bare bones about it. But yeah, so, so make sure you have sort of time for yourself to go out, but stay connected to people and more so in partnerships. This is very important. So make time to have calls with people and like say going fishing earlier on LinkedIn is a good way to start that. But a phone call or a zoom call is is significantly better than just email. Face to face, now that we’re allowed back out is even more important again. And certainly for younger people. I would massively urge you to try and get back in the office as much as you can. Just you’ll learn so much more about the business and about the individual that you’re working with by those sort of going for a walk at lunchtime or whatever it may be, as opposed to just jumping on a zoom call, etcetera.

Palmer Foster: No. Fantastic. And so your question for our next guest, so it doesn’t have to be tied to channel or partnerships. It can be outside the box. But just to get them thinking.

Alan Walsh: Oh, I’ll have to have a think. Palmer Let me have a think. Anything, anything. Um. Do I have to answer you on that now?

Palmer Foster: Preferably mean. If you want to follow up, that’s fine. But either way. 

Alan Walsh: Let me have a think.

Palmer Foster: I’ll give you time. Don’t worry about that, Alan, But appreciate you answering that last question. But massive thanks to our guest, Alan Walsh, the Global head of partnerships at Trade Ledger for joining us today. Thank you to our listeners for joining us for the EMEA Partner Channel podcast. Finally, a special thank you to the people behind the scenes that make this possible. Chloe, who leads the marketing efforts in EMEA and gets our fabulous guests to come speak with me. And Rachel, who handles all the in-house editing to produce these podcasts. If you enjoyed this podcast, don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast episodes wherever you like to listen. Until next time, take care.

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