We're all acutely aware of the challenges brought about by the pandemic, and the degree to which the world of work and of business have changed as a result.
In financial technology this has manifested as an acceleration of changes that were already on the horizon. The common adage is that we've seen a decade's worth of progress in the field, delivered in little more than a year.
Despite the choppy waters, entrepreneurs and business leaders in financial technology and beyond have worked hard to steady their ships. To investigate how they have done this, The Realization Group produced a report on the seven habits of highly effective financial technology leaders. In this webinar we invited some of the contributors to expand on those habits, giving their perspective on the actions we can all take in order to maximise our efficiency and seize opportunities in a changing world.
We were delighted to host Remonda Z. Kirketerp-Moller, Founder and CEO of Muinmos; Thomas McHugh, CEO and Co-Founder of FINBOURNE Technology; Philip Miller, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Solidatus; and Liam Huxley, CEO and Founder at Cassini Systems. The discussion was moderated by Toby Babb.
Capitalise on market opportunity
Remonda Z Kirketerp-Moller pointed out that it can seem difficult to admit that the last 18 months have brought opportunity. However, she said, the changing market and the rapid pace of technological advances have provided more chances than ever for agile businesses to address markets in a different way.
The rest of the panel agreed, and there was consensus that the most significant advances are made when there is a good fit between technology and purpose.
Listen to customers and solve real world problems
Liam Huxley insisted that leaders and their businesses cannot "rest on their laurels", particularly given the pace of change in the financial sector. The speed with which technology is developing, he said, means that it is impossible to imagine that you could solve customers' contemporary problems with technology from even a few years ago.
The panel also agreed that it's important to read between the lines when trying to understand customers' challenges. Pay attention to what they are not explicitly asking, the panel said, and leaders will develop a better understanding of how to service their clients.
Thomas McHugh added that listening is important, but that there needs to be a clear set of shared values - and a target or philosophy that outlasts the individual leaders at the company.
Philip Miller said that value creation in financial services has been transformed by the arrival of real-time insight and rapid-deployment technologies. Today, he said, it is perfectly possible to provide concrete, actionable insight in a customer demonstration - a huge step forward from the four-year horizon on value creation that had previously been taken for granted in the industry.
For Liam Huxley, value is about long-term engagements and long-term integration. This is very different to the B2C model, he said, and requires businesses to be prepared to change tack as their customers' priorities and needs change.
The panel agreed unanimously that technology and process are of particular value when they are used to reduce friction within organisations, and to enable action that was either otherwise impossible or would have been too resource-intensive. For Thomas McHugh, standards and technologies are important, but only because they drive efficiencies. They are tools, and we should be ready to choose other tools when they are no longer right for the job.
Engage your people
Remonda Z Kirketerp-Moller said that people are at the heart of a business, but the most important priority is to establish a set of shared values - and, she says, to recognise that not everyone within an organisation will be a good fit with those values. The panel discussed 'offboarding' employees and clients, and the perceived importance of vision above all else.
Thomas McHugh pointed out that the new era of transparency has meant that a company's IP is no longer particularly valuable. Instead, the value is created by the team you've built.
Invest in growth
Philip Miller spoke about his experience of raising investment during COVID, when face-to-face meetings were all but impossible. He stressed the importance of taking investment on your own terms, but also underscored the fact that fundraising needs to happen alongside other business operations, and not at their expense.
Liam Huxley said that, while it's important to listen to customers, leaders shouldn't just be solving problems as they arise. In addition, the industry also needs to be investing in long-term, strategic, and disruptive thinking. Keep ahead of market trends, keep listening to everyone in the industry, and you can get a picture of what's coming, he said.
Finally, Toby Babb invited the panel to give their own 'golden rule' for success.
Remonda: believe in the vision!
Thomas: have a value proposition that works for everyone, including people.
Liam: instil transparency at every stage, guaranteed by processes
Philip: don't leave anything in the tank.
Catch up on the full webinar via the links below:
Hiring top talent in a start-up – the key is making it a unique place to work
By Alicia Ariffin Head of People and Culture, SteelEye
A Company on a Mission
By Thomas McHugh, CEO and Co-Founder of Finbourne Technology
A company dog, work-life balance and purpose
By Remonda Z. Kirketerp-Møller Founder and CEO, Muinmos