What it takes to be an employee magnet

Competition within fintechs can be fierce. Many that made SourceMedia’s second annual list of the Best Fintechs to Work For have turned to finding the best employees to stay ahead of the competition.

They do this by offering a range of perks that make their employees’ lives easier, create a fun work environment and provide a chance to give back to the community. But leadership at these companies also take steps to ensure they are recruiting a diverse group of employees that will lead to different ideas.

“It’s important to have a diverse workforce because having voices around the table with different points of view leads to better decisions,” said Karla Friede, CEO of Nvoicepay. “This is not always easy, because of the difference in communication styles and sometimes this means it takes longer to process and come to a conclusion, but the results are better. Different points of view lead to innovation and speed — and allow us to discover issues before they become problems.”

All of that starts at the top with the CEO setting a tone that is welcoming and inclusive, and gives employees room to grow.

“A leader is someone that the rest of the team trusts and is willing to follow, not because of their title, but because of their vision and things the leader has done for the company and our customers,” said Hailin Li, CEO of Advyzon.

Here are some insights from the companies on the Best Fintechs to Work For list about their leadership styles, why good benefits are essential for keeping employees and unique ways they recruit a diverse workforce:

 Why benefits matter

Many of the Best Fintechs to Work For provide a range of benefits to employees. Some are fun, like foosball and pingpong tables, surfing lessons and beer, and help create a sense of camaraderie amongst the staff.

But these fintechs also focus on perks meant to help relieve the daily stresses that plague employees’ lives. Ninety percent of employees who work for companies that made the list said they were satisfied with their benefits package, while 74% of employees at fintechs not on the list said they were happy.

“The founders wanted a family environment in the company,” said Kingsley Greenland II, president and CEO of Debt Exchange, an adviser for consumer, commercial and specialty loans. “People should focus on doing a great job and their home lives, not worry about healthcare benefits.”

Many companies on the list promote a healthy work-life balance by limiting over time, provide services at the office like haircuts to simplify employees’ days, and consider ways to help their staff financially.

For instance, Carpe Data is headquartered in Santa Barbara, Calif., a state that is known for its high cost of health insurance. To help alleviate this stress for employees, the fintech provides free medical and vision coverage for employees and their dependents. Dental care is available at a heavily discounted rate.

“It’s well documented that employees are happier, healthier, and enjoy their jobs more when the stresses of life and work are eased by their employer,” said Max Drucker, CEO of Carpe Data, which provides data and predictive scoring products for insurance firms. “Concerns about health insurance, maternity leave, and [paid time off] balances can place a huge burden on day-to-day life, and I believe that our success as a company is due in part to relieving those concerns.”

Leaders often emphasized how the company’s success began with employees so ensuring they felt valued was essential. A comprehensive benefits package is one way to do that.

Pierre Naudé, CEO at the cloud-banking firm nCino, which was ranked No. 1 on the list this year, said that its “culture and reputation” were the biggest driver of its success. He believes that if employees are taken care of then “they will be passionate about their jobs and committed to nCino’s long-term success.”

Steve Smith, CEO of Finicity, which provides financial data aggregation and analysis, noted that competition also plays a role in driving the benefits offered.

“First, we realize that our success truly starts with our team. So ensuring they don’t have to worry about their ability to take care of themselves and their families is important to us. It provides both peace of mind and the care they need from physical to financial health,” Smith said.

Setting the right tone

Giving employees room to do their jobs was a cornerstone of several CEOs’ leadership philosophy. That means avoiding micromanaging, trusting employees will get the job done and allowing them the space to innovate. Ninety-one percent of employees at companies on the list said they were given enough authority to make decisions compared with 81% at fintechs that didn’t make the rankings.

“My leadership philosophy is to hire smart people with high integrity and then empower them to think like owners so they can achieve great results,” said Stephanie Klein, chairman and CEO at Braviant Holdings, a Chicago-based online lender for underserved consumers. “The best CEO in the world is nothing without a great team. My role is to set clear objectives, ensure that everyone has the resources they need to succeed, provide frameworks to track and measure results, and then get out of the way.”

Treating employees with respect was also a must. Ninety-three percent of employees at companies that made the list noted that they were treated “like a person, not a number.” That number was just 77% for companies who didn’t make the rankings.

“It’s very simple — treat people with respect,” Nvoicepay’s Friede said. “We’re a facts-based organization, so people feel empowered to voice their opinion and offer their input. They know we will always prioritize the best idea, rather than the most senior voice in the room.”

 Recruitment best practices

Many of the Best Fintechs are deliberate in their recruitment efforts to ensure they not only find the best employees but also hire a diverse employee base and limit attrition.

“It’s important to us to bring different points of view to everything we do. Everyone has a unique experience and by increasing diversity, you’ll be bringing new perspectives to the table,” said Sal Rehmetullah, president and co-founder of Fattmerchant. “Our customers span so many different walks of life from all across the U.S., and by having people who reflect our customers, we’re better able to understand and work with them.”

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