Plaid’s Irene Zhou on getting a ‘Yes’ faster from financial institutions

Working with financial institutions and large enterprises can be intimidating, but there are ways to get them to say ‘yes’ faster, says Plaid Canada’s account lead Irene Zhou.

Zhou told BetaKit at SAAS NORTH that when making deals with enterprises, it’s important to expect a lot of moving parts. It’s about winning over one team within the company at a time, and “weaving a story” to get everyone bought into your value proposition, she says.

“You’re not just responsible for making that one sale to one person,” she says. “You have a lot of different parts of the company that you have to all convince and get on board with what you want them to do.”

Plaid connects FinTech services through APIs, making it easier for consumers to connect their financial accounts with the apps and services. Plaid connects with over 11,000 financial institutions across the United States, Canada and Europe. It’s been operating in Canada since 2018.

Zhou, who became Canadian lead in April this year, also makes the distinction between approaching smaller companies compared to larger enterprises. Smaller companies tend to be transactional, Zhou says, as they have a “very specific need that they’re coming to you for.”

“When you’re talking to enterprises, it’s more about how you position your company on more of a platform level,” she says. “This is really hard for enterprises to procure. It takes a long time, it takes a lot of their resources.”

“You have to really spend time with the enterprise to demonstrate how you can deliver value beyond just the one use case that you might have entered into the conversation with,” Zhou adds.

Trust is also another important factor to consider when speaking with financial institutions and large companies, as they deal with strong regulatory factors. They’re looking for brand alignment, Zhou notes.

Zhou shares other steps founders can take to foster a deal with financial institutions, and discusses the state of open banking in Canada and where it lags behind the United States and Europe.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a journalism student at Ryerson University and the business and technology editor at The Eyeopener, Ryerson's largest independent newspaper.