Fintech startups aren’t just changing the way we bank, they’re changing the way employees work
By its very nature, fintech is iconoclastic. It turns the traditional notion of banking on its head, updating speed and access for an era when information and transactions are right at our fingertips. Fintech recognizes the need to keep up, to be mobile, and to be flexible. It also draws talent from two dynamic fields in finance and technology. Given all that, it’s no surprise that fintech workplaces take unique approaches to getting the job done. One holdout from long ago remains: If you can work quickly and efficiently, bankers’ hours are yours to be had. While flexibility is great, it’s only one part of what makes a company culture. These fintechs are creating theirs on the fly.
After taking heat for a negative work environment that led to high burnout and churn rates, the UK-based startup started listening to its employees. Certain trends hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic are now a way of life at Revolut. The company started a hybrid work pilot test after a survey of employees revealed just 2% want to return to the office full-time and more than a third don’t want to be in the office at all. After tourism-starved islands offered residencies to foreigners and with international borders opening back up, Revolut in April announced that employees would be able to work outside their home countries for up to 60 days in a given 12-month period. “Our employees asked for flexibility and that’s what we’re giving them,” Jim MacDougall, Revolut’s VP of people, said in a statement.
As a business, Plaid is focused on democratizing financial services. As a workplace, it strives to live up to that for its workers. “We value cross-team collaboration and diversity of thought. There’s always an opportunity to learn from each other outside of day-to-day work,” the company states. The cohesive and motivated environment helps employees understand the mission, have a say in it, and want to work toward it. A solid benefits package acknowledges that hard work is not actually its own reward and makes sure employees can take care of life and loved ones outside of work. And when it’s time to let loose, they know how to do that well, too.
The Australia-based foreign currency exchange has grown by leaps and bounds, surpassing 500 employees in 12 worldwide offices. Through that rapid growth, the founders — who became friends in school before launching a business together — have learned a lot. The executives have since farmed out hiring to a dedicated HR team, but they haven’t forgotten what it takes to attract and keep top talent. “Look for the staff who challenge you, who push you to be better,” Airwallex advises. “The talent who you know thinks differently to you, who bring extra skills to the table. This builds diverse thinking and enables the business to look towards its goals with a different lens.”
A proactive approach to solving client needs naturally trickled over to internal operations. UWM shifted its style from a linear waterfall approach to software development, adapting iterative, team-driven agile methodologies. “People really started to believe that they were part of something bigger. They weren’t just here to create software. The true intrinsic value of what we did was to help the American economy,” executive vice president and chief technology officer Jason Bressler told BOSS. Radical transparency has boosted UWM’s bottom line and made employees more comfortable in their roles knowing they have agency and accountability.
No matter an employee’s talents, Stripe finds a way to maximize them. While traditional office roles run the risk of pigeonholing people into specific tasks like an assembly line, Stripe doesn’t have job titles. If there’s something you’re good at, you’ll get the chance to show that. “We have had account managers start a publishing arm, interns who have run business units, and hackathon participants who have built company-defining products,” Stripe boasts. Whereas stodgier ways of thinking might see this as a recipe for chaos, Stripe employees find it refreshing and conducive to innovation.
As a one-stop shop for bill management, doxo helps customers maintain financial health. That legitimately feels good for doxo employees. That spirit has helped the company land on list after list of the best places to work in Seattle. Matching 401(k) contributions helps workers maintain their own long-term financial health and the atmosphere stands out in a competitive tech market. “Our passion for collaboration and innovation have enabled us to further our mission of financial health and transparency, and we’re excited to continue building on this momentum,” CEO Steve Shivers said.
Kasasa provides banking services, to be sure, but it more rightly might be called a culture company. CEO Gabe Krajicek takes the attitude that if the culture is right, everything else will fall into place. “I remember my whole life, as I was growing up, my dad was obsessed with culture. We’d, at the dinner table, talk about how you’ve got to love your employees, and how there might be 10% wrong with them but there’s 90% right. Focus on the right,” he said on the “For You Leaders” podcast. Kasasa takes it core values (love, badassitude, interdependence, and 5-star leadership so seriously, it will give employees who have been with the company at least six months $2,000 to get a tattoo of the company patch.
It starts with little things like a monthly Best Paw Forward cutest dog contest. It builds up to creative thinking like opening job opportunities across all Redtail locations rather than restricting in which office a certain job is done. Eliminating that barrier makes it easier on employees and easier for the company to match the right fit to the right position. “The people, all the way from the top down to your everyday, front-line employee, we’re not a number. Every person matters,” Sarah Thomas, who answered an ad for a customer service position in an office full of puppies and foam rocket battles and is now a team lead, told American Banker. “It’s a family environment.”