Culture is What Separates Fintech's Best from the Rest

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Posting date: 19 April 2016

If the fall of Lehman Brothers heralded the global financial collapse, then surely the rise of fintech is testimony to its resurgence. Fintech has sparked a flurry of innovation into a sector that, in recent years, had become sluggish and stagnant. It has blurred the lines between tech and finance, suits and t-shirts, as professionals in both industries migrate in search of new and exciting challenges.

In a market where skills such as business analysis, Python and Scala are in such high demand, this migration is causing major headaches for companies keen to attract the best candidates and retain their most talented staff. With a plethora of opportunities available to these talented few, standing out from the competition requires more than just a handsome remuneration package. 

Our 2016 Technology Survey revealed they want to strike a positive work/ life balance (71%), the opportunity to work on innovative projects (64%) and feel like valued members of a team (55%). Attracting them means getting them to buy-in to what your business stands for.

This is where culture comes into play. The very best, culture led, fintech firms fully understand the importance of their culture, how it impacts on everything from product design and customer service to talent acquisition and retention.

So how do you establish a culture that will have the most talented programmers, developers and analysts hungry to join your team? Here are four steps to get you on track:

Align Your Culture with Your Core Values and Turn Those Values into Behaviours 

What inspires you to do what you do? What are the things that matter most to you as a business owner and why did you set up the business in the first place? Are you a Trump aficionado, with a 'success at all costs' attitude, or does innovation and collaboration take centre stage, or is it more about creating an amazing customer experience? 

These are the questions you need to ask yourself to understand the values your business and the foundations of its culture.

Once you've identified three to four guiding principles that sum up who you are as a business, it's important that they are translated into actionable behaviours, after all, actions speak louder than words. For example, if you want to promote a culture of creativity, you might offer structured freedom and encourage an environment where 'no idea is a bad idea'.

Hire People with Shared Values 

When it comes to finding the right employee, hiring someone who fits with your culture is in many ways more important that having the exact skillset you require. Skills can be taught but values are next to impossible to change. Every new hire will either contribute to or detract from your culture.

To help attract the right candidates consider communicating your core values to them. This could be in the form of your company blog, via social media, through your CSR programme or in the job spec you create. Rather than just listing your values, providing examples that demonstrate them is far more powerful.

Ideally you want candidates with aligned values and the right skills, which is why people like me and the rest of the Harvey Nash team exist.


A corporate culture isn't something you can dictate to staff. As I mentioned earlier, they must buy-in to it. To get your team on board, communicate openly and frankly with them about what you are doing and why you're doing it. Get their opinions and listen to their suggestions. This will build trust and a sense of ownership over the corporate culture.


Its Evolution Building a successful culture takes effort. As your company grows and evolves so too will aspects of your culture. Expansion often brings with it greater levels of systemisation and bureaucracy. However, remaining true to your core values and working to promote them across your organisation will provide clarity and a sense of purpose that your workforce can identify with regardless of its size.

Building the principles of your culture into your people performance and management systems is an extremely effective way of monitoring the culture of your company and making sure it is being adhered to. It also shows your employees how important culture is to you.


David is a director in Harvey Nash overseeing the professional recruitment and outsourcing operations. 

He has been involved in recruitment in the finance / tech space in Ireland for over a decade and is an advisor to many successful businesses on talent strategies and the evolution and impact of culture in the modern workplace. 

David and the team at Harvey Nash have built a market leading business based on problem solving and straight-talking dialogue, which is a key component of how they support their customers and partners in today's business culture.