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Flexibility in fintech: the key to retaining talent

This picture taken at annual financial technology gathering TradeTech in early April provides a clear illustration of the dearth of women in financial services and, in particular, financial technology.

This runs counter to a Randstad financial survey conducted at the beginning of the year which showed the number of women applying for jobs in financial services actually outnumbered men for the first time. The supply of women for senior positions should in time start growing, so it is essential that women do not perceive there to be barriers – real or otherwise – to progression in the industry.

One of the main barriers is the culture of presenteeism that pervades the City – working long hours and being visible in the office for the sake of demonstrating one’s commitment to the firm.  This is incompatible with what many might consider to be a healthy work-life balance and family priorities. These factors create a point at which many talented people – predominantly women – are lost from the workforce. It can also compound a sense of exclusion as decisions and collaboration often take place when they are not in the office. Given the tools at our disposal to work differently in the twenty-first century, an alternative approach is clearly required.

Employers who cannot accommodate the changing life circumstances of their employees and provide an environment in which they can continue to develop their careers are potentially cutting themselves off from a talent pool that they can ill afford to in the age of fierce global competition. What’s more, it is increasingly shown to be an inefficient way of working.

We have recruited many highly-skilled women with extensive City experience in financial technology, who had simply no outlet for their skills and experience that was compatible with the hours demanded by these institutions. This has given them an opportunity to continue to work and develop their careers.  Also many financial services companies had invested thousands in their development and training, only to let it go to waste. So it is essential to try and find a way to hold on to that investment within the industry.

We solve this problem by running the our entire business part-time – so no individual needs to work more than 25 hours a week and the start and finish times are the same every day. Output, however, has not been affected in line with the reduction in operational hours.

Financial technology companies and other institutions need to think about ways they can incorporate more flexibility into their working environment. Any cost in offering reduced hours or job shares is likely to be mitigated by preventing the haemorrhage of talented staff, both female and male, from the financial technology world simply because it does not fit with their family priorities. It is undeniable that it is time for the industry to consider an alternative approach to prevent the current talent and investment drain.






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