It’s difficult to overstate just how much the way we work has changed over the past year. We all know it and we’ve all been living it since Covid-19 arrived and upended our daily lives overnight in early 2020. Everyone’s experienced it in a different way
– I know people who have used the time to travel around the US or set up in the Caribbean while continuing to do their day jobs, and others who are missing the routine of the office – but all the discussion about the future of work shouldn’t overlook the significance
of how companies across sectors are working in ways they would never have believed possible just a couple of years ago.
Many of us in Fintech, though, were a few steps ahead of the curve when it came to remote working pre-pandemic, with companies more likely to be digitally native and free of established practices, such as presenteeism or devices being tied to certain locations,
that are still a feature of work at some big corporates. Given that, in markets around the world, everyone’s talking about work-life balance, UK Fintechs have a fantastic opportunity to go out and make themselves the primary destination for the best talent
over the coming years.
Thinking beyond the capital
London has long been a thriving tech hub, but the cost of renting and living in the city and its suburbs has surely deterred talented individuals – both from other parts of the UK or abroad – from making the move in recent years. New visa options for Fintechs,
as recommended by the recent Kalifa Review, would give those with the right skills automatic qualification to work in the UK and make our sector far more competitive for international talent.
These changes would be doubly powerful when combined with the workplace changes we’re experiencing, and expect to continue. If the best people can come to the UK to work in Fintech, but not necessarily have to live in London, our sector will be more appealing
to talent than ever before: we’ll be able to offer a fantastic quality of life without the London prices or spending a big chunk of your salary commuting.
Companies will also become more open to domestic candidates from around the UK, something we’re already seeing at Currencycloud. During the all-remote days of the pandemic, we hired people from around the country. A colleague who lives in Leicester told
me he’d never have joined a London company before the pandemic. So, it’s having a transformative effect already.
Things will increasingly move remote-first. Employees could be ‘tied’ to a particular office, for example a London hub, but it’s up to them and their manager to decide how often they’ll need to be there and what their schedule looks like. For many, living
in Edinburgh and paying for a few flights down to London every quarter might be preferable to living in the south-east of England and commuting. There will undoubtedly be far more choice out there.
The talent effect
Attracting the best talent – wherever it’s based – is crucial if UK Fintechs are to continue to thrive and meet their growth potential. It’s hard to quantify the precise impact of high-quality people on a company, but if you have the four best sprinters
in the world running the 4x100m relay, you’re probably going to break some records.
That plays out across an organisation – having the smartest minds working on problems and delivering better products more quickly into the hands of customers is good for everyone. Currencycloud’s customers, for example, are under pressure from consumers
to keep rolling out new services and products at pace to meet growing expectations – and quality headcount can have a big impact on their ability to do that.
These trends should also make Fintechs more diverse in terms of the backgrounds and experiences that teams can bring to problem-solving and product development. And this could be transformative for companies looking to move into a new territory – it should
be easier than ever to bring in new hires who live and breathe that market and, over time, a Fintech will become more global in the way it thinks and operates.
A new type of company
This will all, of course, have an impact on company culture and the relationship that people in Fintech have with their employers. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out, but we’ll likely see a reconfiguration of benefits packages and the nature
of how a company interacts with its people as we all adapt to the new demands of global talent. While many companies will retain some physical office space, there will be less pressure to keep adding square footage to accommodate increases in headcount. Companies
will reconfigure their headquarters to support collaborative work rather than as a place to turn up and plug in, and the OPEX savings could be redeployed to provide for in-person company meetings and socials.
UK Fintechs have two great opportunities here. The first is to become the destination of choice for the best talent around the world – and use this talent to grow and continue to deliver on Fintech’s promise. Perhaps more importantly, though, Fintech has
an opportunity to set an example for other sectors that are looking to adapt to post-Covid transformations, showing that remote working can be embraced and drive growth while keeping talented people happy.