Ambition Can Attract the Right Talent
A few months ago, Mark Logan produced his long-awaited, government-commissioned report on the Scottish tech ecosystem, of which FinTech is now a key component.
There were many positives. We have established a thriving, well-connected community. However, Mark was quite clear; things need to change.
We need to think bigger; we need to push boundaries and reach further than many think is possible, capitalising on the global opportunities that will take us beyond the tipping point.
One of the pillars at the heart of Mark's vision for a larger, more robust Scottish Tech ecosystem was, of course, people.
But how do we attract this critical talent?
Growing our own talent, working with schools and universities to prepare future captains of industry is vital. Making sure the technical skills taught are combined with commercial acumen is critical. However, this is a generation away.
To realise some more immediate returns and to capitalise on the global opportunities, tech companies in Scotland need to attract the sort of investment required to be an international player and employ the talent with the experience and knowledge to succeed.
Embrace Your Ambition
With COVID19 banishing most traces of presenteeism and reassuring business leaders that it is possible to operate remote teams without impacting on productivity, this has opened up access to a far more significant, global labour market.
However, while the talent exists, encouraging them to join your team instead of sticking with the FinTech operating out of London isn't easy.
What was clear from listening to Shane Kehoe, Co-Founder at SVK Crypto, who was a keynote speaker at EIE20, is the acknowledgement from London that there is an incredibly exciting scene here in Scotland. However, for whatever reason, the investment and to a certain degree the talent isn't making its way north at quite the speed we would hope.
Something both Shane said at EIE20, and Hector Mason, Investor at Episode 1, mentioned when we interviewed him for the TalentSpark podcast last year, was that the level of ambition shown by the companies in London and America is exceptionally high.
Our inbuilt Scottish apprehension prevents many from showing the global ambition we harbour, and from taking the risks that perhaps our counterparts in Silicon Valley, and to a certain degree those down in London, take for granted.
These founders are shooting for the star's fuelled by mind-blowing ambition, and many eventually fail. However, the lessons they learned along the way, will be invaluable to an emerging FinTech and the experience will help attract more significant levels of investment.
This faster turnaround of experienced talent was, in fact, one of the potential solutions suggested by Mark Logan in his report.
Define Your Market
Another key aspect of attracting the right talent for your business is defining your 'why'.
Whether you are trying to attract the COO from a FinTech that has just exited to a global institution, or you have your sights set on securing the services of the most inspiring CTO, you need to sell a vision of a business that does more than it says on the tin.
This concept became abundantly clear when we worked with one of Scotland's most exciting new FinTechs', Nude.
Lots of company leaders and advisors talk about creating the right culture, but Nude have worked hard to define their culture and make it a key component of their hiring process.
Nude has now raised £5.7m, and their most recent raise was to help them deliver on the government-backed Lifetime ISA (LISA), created to help first-time buyers get onto the property ladder.
However, there was a time pressure on getting the LISA product to market, and it required the recruitment of up to ten staff. It was an exciting project for our team to get stuck into but daunting none the less.
Their one goal is to:
"Help you reach life's most important life goals, starting with buying a home".
So, the 'why' was clear, and after meeting with Stephen Doherty, COO, it was apparent their culture was laser-focused on customer-focused delivery.
Having this made the process that we went through very clear. It helped us define the type of person we were recruiting for making shortlisting far more effective. The vision and values also helped sell the opportunity to an already engaged audience which meant the candidates we put forward had a higher chance of success, reducing the time to hire considerably.
So, while defining the vision and culture of the company certainly helped us, it created a very attractive proposition in an incredibly competitive marketplace.
Diversity and Inclusion
Living and breathing an inclusive culture from the very top is not only the right thing to do, but it makes financial sense too.
While no one should have to be convinced of the benefits of a more diverse mindset throughout your business, based on the potential financial upside, it does seem to be rolled out as part of the argument.
Jacqueline De Rojas, Chair of Tech UK, has highlighted the imbalance of female representation in the tech sector, and the potential impact this can have on everyday lives.
The retention rate of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic is far shorter than that of their white counterparts. This could be in part down to the, on average 13% lower salaries compared with their white workmates.
However, it is almost certainly also the result of a lack of buy-in from senior-level executives to embody change, making the role of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) incredibly frustrating.
It is incumbent on senior leaders, founders and CEO's to take ownership of the diversity throughout their organisation. They need to embody the culture and take action to stamp out any perceived bias. Only when the policy is taken seriously at the top level will change genuinely take place, and companies will see the financial benefits of having a diverse workforce.
So, if the many fantastic companies that make the FinTech sector here in Scotland are to achieve the growth they all grave, they need to be brave and embrace their real ambitions. They need to define their vision and culture and embody a diverse and inclusive hiring approach.
- Peter Dunn
- Associate Director (Tech and Digital)
- Eden Scott
- 07795 553 835