The Cultural Dichotomy of Fintechs – How Will You Flourish?

Over the past 3 months I have met with over 20 fintech organisations from banks to start-ups to find out what’s keeping them up at night on the issue of hiring and retaining talent. I was keen to understand what they perceive to be biggest recruitment challenges in the sector.

Group of People In Coworking Space

There are currently around 1,600 fintech organisations in the UK. The last 12 months has seen organisations merging, growing by acquisition or becoming publicly-listed. It can be difficult for professionals in the sector to decide what career move to make and where to go next. There are also many other things to weigh up when joining a fintech, including things like stock options, remuneration packages, employee perks, benefits and the office environment. Talent in this sector is spoilt for choice.

Cash is king but is there something more?

There is no shortage of cash in fintech. We have seen challenger banks grow in revenue by 268% and the top 5 fintechs pooling in a combined income of £177.6 million in 2018 (that’s a 130% increase year-on-year!). But as we have witnessed with the oil and gas industry and the dotcom bubble, these situations can often lead to a false sense of security for employees.

I was interested to hear Udita Banerje the technology innovations and solutions lead at RBS, talk about motivating and retaining talent. She explained there is a constant challenge of reward and retention of top talent at RBS. People need to feel that they are satisfied in their role beyond remuneration. Udita went on to say that RBS tries to ascertain people’s ‘career anchors’ early on and help them achieve these throughout their journey at the company. These anchors can include anything from external recognition to establishing themselves in the business as a ‘go-to’ person for a certain skill. This strategy helps RBS motivate their teams and helps with staff retention.

Greater flexibility, greater accountability

Talent is now also being presented with some enticing choices. For some, this level of unprecedented disruption in a traditional market is too exciting to resist.

Talent can finally shed their heels and three-piece suits and enjoy casual dress in the workplace. They can also shed the never-ending layers of bureaucracy and shine in an era of flexible working and fast wins. But are they more suited to navigating the politics of a legacy banking firm than the personalities of a start-up?

The lure of a more flexible and innovative culture often comes with greater accountability. Being a big fish in a small pond can also be quite exposing. There is a vast cultural dichotomy between the banks and the fintechs. Fintechs want bang for their buck and the ability to deliver at pace.

Expectations, culture and values

Transparency around expectations, culture and values is essential in the bid to attract top talent. This can be overlooked and as a result some opportunities are mis-sold, leading to hires where both parties are unhappy. 

A prime example is Revolut. Who wouldn’t want to join the UK’s fastest growing fintech start-up? With funky offices and some great perks, Revolut has unfortunately been in the media about their recruitment practices. A former employee said, “you're nothing but a number to them with dollar signs attached.” The employee also went onto say, “the firm’s high-speed growth has come at a high human cost – with unpaid work, unachievable targets and high-staff turnover.”

Final thoughts

We have seen the first cycle of talent in the banking sector move to fintech to enjoy innovative ways of working, promises of equity and a more agile working environment.

Now, at a time where some of those huge profit predictions and promises of equity have not come to fruition, will the traditional banks see an influx of talent gravitate back to their businesses?

BrightPool and Interim Partners would like to invite you to attend our roundtable discussion Attracting and Retaining Talent in Fintech, where we will discuss the challenges and solutions around attracting and retaining talent in fintech.

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