Whatever the industry, it's the people-fit

20 April, 2017
Nancy Barnes
Nancy BarnesGlobal Head of HR

Over the past couple of years we have witnessed rising interest – and curiosity – in the fintech sector. Graduates are leaving university, focusing on what they see as an exciting segment of the financial system and an alternative to traditional employment routes such as banking. We are also seeing significant defections from other industries as people realise ‘there is another way’.

We are often asked what it takes to be successful in fintech and what makes it such an intriguing area – one that has captured the imagination of a growing number of people.

Ultimately, whatever the industry sector, whatever the individual organisation, it has to be about choosing the right people and nurturing talent to meet the requirements of the company and its objectives and values.

With organisations such as fintechs, the element of dynamism, of flying in the face of convention, certainly appeals to a broad range of professionals. At Earthport, we have the sort of model that is closely aligned to what you would expect from a fintech. It’s a model that doesn’t necessarily suit everyone and it is somewhat removed from the long-time accepted career pathway that we came to expect of the City of London, Wall Street and other financial hubs.

So it’s important that we hire the right people, individuals who are not only team players but also capable of using their individual flair and creativity for the good of the organisation. We place enormous value in potential, flexibility and inquisitiveness. It is not necessarily all about employing people with the right skill sets; we also look for people who have the internal traits to develop the organisation. That means the right personality, the right application and the willingness to challenge the status quo.

Age doesn’t come into it. In fact, we have seen hardened institutionalised bankers, accustomed to a tight corporate structure and rigid processes, suddenly unleashed by the fintech environment and expressing themselves in a more liberal, innovative and creative way than ever before. It is really quite refreshing to see this in action. These people come to fintech for a reason – it might be due to disillusionment with the glacial pace of change and innovation in more traditional institutions, or perhaps they are simply eager to use the mileage they still have in their career to enjoy a fresh challenge. Sometimes it is merely to liberate their inner entrepreneurial spirit!

There should be no boundaries – after all, we are working in a world of diversity, of increased social responsibility and a greater awareness (especially among younger generations) of the possibilities the workplace can and should offer.

The ability to listen to ideas, to challenge them and to enjoy the possibility of sharply changing direction when it becomes apparent that a different approach may be needed are all qualities we look for in people when they come to us, and it’s a strategy that many companies in the fintech world are adopting. It makes for a vibrant industry that is gathering momentum around us and I believe, in many ways, setting a template for the future of work. We spend a lot of time in our workplaces, so surely it makes sense to create happy, stimulating and positive environments that draw the very best qualities out of our people?

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