By Simon Raymer, co-founder and chief information officer of Fraedom
As fintech start-ups move from one level to the next, most start to experience certain growing pains. Trapped within the traditional hierarchical model, talented staff become frustrated. Typically after three or four years, either at the lack of options available for them to progress, or by being pushed up into managerial roles that do not suit them.
Historically, if you wanted to develop and get paid more in a fintech organisation, you would inevitably have had to start to climb the hierarchy all companies naturally start to form as they grow. However, that is not necessarily what the workforce of the future is looking for. Pioneering developers and architects from the millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000), typically want to remain active on the operational floor coding, not directing others from afar and dealing with spreadsheets.
Fintechs will need to understand this and address it quickly if they want to keep their burgeoning talent happy in the future. After all, in an environment where there is huge demand for exceptional talented people, they simply cannot afford to lose their most valuable asset: their people.
At Fraedom, we have been quick to recognise the importance of this challenge. And that’s why we have built a new model of how a fast growing fintech business can most effectively work in the modern world. In redesigning our own company, Fraedom has torn up the rule book, re-designing the structure of a typical technology company by ‘flattening out’ the structure, empowering workers to express themselves and removing all managers and team leads. Fraedom has successfully eliminated job titles such as Development Manager, Development Lead and Senior Lead; resulting in our best leaders being able work alongside the teams designing, coding, building and mentoring.
It’s an approach that we believe sits well with emerging generations that are reshaping the workforce today. Millenials ‘get technology’. They have grown up, at least in their more formative years, with gadgets, computers and the Internet. Rather than being constrained by them, they are eager to use them to express their creativity and innovative ideas.
We believe that fintechs should be embracing the latent talent within this emerging generation and freeing it up to experiment with new ideas without fear of failure in an environment that rewards creative endeavour.
If they want to attract and retain the best talent, fintechs need to be listening, adapting and trusting each other to work together to resolve issues and frustrations. We believe all the above elements will become increasingly important in any successful fintech business.
It might run counter to the traditional view of a financial services organisation as essentially conservative, risk-averse and cautious. Yet, in the modern fintech arena, adopting a completely different business model will give organisations a much greater chance of success.
For fintechs, the key must be around developing an empowering management philosophy where staff are encouraged to take risks, a stimulating work and an inspiring workplace where creativity thrives. From development, right through to product, sales and marketing, it’s important that people are actively encouraged to excel and grow in an agile, collaborative and inventive environment where talent is recognised and rewarded.
The approach is now setting a template for the industry where the businesses that succeed in the future will need to focus on maintaining the positive innovative culture of the fast-growth start-up, even as their staff numbers rise inexorably. It is a bold new frontier but those fintech businesses brave enough today to push forward with this more innovative approach will ultimately be rewarded with enhanced profitability and greater competitive edge.