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Video transcript: Scaling FinTechs for success through partnerships and collaboration

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Scaling FinTechs

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Transcript

Reyhan Jethani:

Hi everybody. Welcome to PwC’s final satellite event, where we are going to be talking about scaling FinTech to success through partnership and collaboration. Very excited to have a really good set of panellists and also, Jon Maskery from our UK payments team and Nick Chouksey from our tax team. And I will just pass it on to Jon and Nick to give a quick introduction on themselves.

I am Reyhan, I am a Senior Associate within our technology data and analytics team, and also working closely with our UK FinTech central team. I will be hosting the event today. Please feel free, we have a chat function where you can post some questions throughout the session or towards the end, depending on time we will make sure that those questions go to our panellists to answer. But we will also take a note of those questions and see if we can get those answered if we do run out of time. I will pass it on to Jon to give an introduction and hope you guys really enjoy the event.

Jon Maskery:

Thanks very much Reyhan, and welcome to the event today. My name is Jon Maskery, I am a partner in PwC’s financial services technology consulting arm. I am also our practice lead for our payments business and I've worked in consulting for over 26 years now and over that career I have spent a considerable amount of time working with FinTechs throughout the career, as FinTechs are becoming a more and more important and scaled part of our ecosystem for both work that PwC do, and also for the work we jointly do with our clients. So I’m delighted to have you here today, I am now going to pass you over to Nick Chouksey, who is going to introduce himself.

Nick Chouksey:

Thanks very much, Jon. Hi everyone, I am Nick Chouksey, I am a director in our financial services practice in London. As with Jon, I focus largely on supporting clients in the tech sector as well as with a number of payment clients, and that's providing a variety of advisory services to them. I've been focusing on the sector for the past decade, both within PwC, and before that I was also at Worldpay, so I worked in the sector as well. I bring the knowledge of how businesses work and we look forward to having a discussion today about partnership and collaboration, which really we say as central themes, both historically over the last decade in FinTech, but also far more relevant now as we look to see what the future of FinTech looks like.

Jon Maskery:

Thanks Nick. As Reyhan said, as he introduced the session, this session is focused on scaling FinTech for success through partnership and collaboration. I am absolutely delighted to be joined by our three panellists, who I will get to introduce themselves in a second. As a brief introduction, we have Karen Bailey from Microsoft. She is the head of partnerships and alliances, and she is helping with scaling FinTechs reducing their barriers to partnerships with large financial institutions. We're also joined by Rosie Turner. Rosie is the co-founder of Inchorus, a scaleup that uses data to help organisations understand biases within their organisation. She is also a founder of the FinTech for All Charter, which aims to improve the opportunities and diversity within FinTech. Finally, I have Jim Cowles, who is a director of RTGS Global, a global payments network in the early stages of formation. Jim was also the European CEO at Citi Bank before joining RTGS Global.

Now, I am going to let each of the panellists introduce themselves in a little more detail, but I want them to introduce themselves, but also highlight and give their opinions on what they think the key attribute organisations need to look for to scale successfully.

Karen, if you could do a quick introduction and give your views on scaling for success, that would be brilliant.

Karen Bailey:

First off all, thank you for having me here, I am really excited to join this panel. Second, for those of you watching the video, it's a beautiful sunrise here in Nashville, Tennessee, which you can tell. The sun is going make a pass my window here at any minute right now, but it's been blinding at the moment. You're going to see I am going to shift into the shadows just a little bit. I am Karen Bailey; I am with Microsoft and I lead our financial services practice for our business advisories and our global system integrators. As part of that function, I actually help to develop financial services solutions with our partner community, and then bring the solutions to market to our commercial enterprises and our commercial customers in the financial services space. I've been in financial services now for about 20 years. I've spent most of my time leading large IT teams through transformation projects. So, if I am inside of an organisation something that's usually transforming using technology inside of the business and spent that time in a couple of large financial institutions here in the United States. My last role before joining the Microsoft ecosystem was as CIO of a company called Brown & Brown, which is a large insurance intermediary. So love technology, love financial services, and then spent about 10 years before that in pure technology, working for infrastructure companies back when infrastructure was actually relatively new, so about 30 years total in industry.

Then from a scaling perspective, there are a bunch of things we could talk about how we scale organisations, and we certainly help our startups and our scaleup organisations in Microsoft. Really two come to mind. The first is make it systematic, so I am a systems person. The more you build systems into the processes, so that you get the engine working inside of your company without a lot of attention, the easier it is for you to actually have a scale up motion. Then the second and the reason I am in the partner community is partners and we'll talk more about partners later, but really partners help in two different ways. First, they help you to get to your solution faster if they are leveraged correctly; and second, they help you to get to your customer faster if leveraged correctly as well. Back to you, Jon.

Jon Maskery:

Excellent, thank you for that Karen. Rosie, I am going to turn to you to get your perspectives with a quick introduction as well.

Rosie Turner:

Fantastic yeah, well echoing huge thank you for the opportunity to be here, very exciting. So I am one of the co-founders of Inchorus Group. As mentioned, Inchorus is essentially focused on helping companies to collect more data around workplace cultures and inclusion, and then translating that data into actionable insights. That has led me to be one of the founders of FinTech for All. FinTech for All is actually an industry-led movement that's focused on how do we create a more inclusive FinTech sector? There is quite a lot as some of you are probably aware around the kind of diversity and representation across the sector, and we still see a lot of challenges there, and with quite low representation of women and other kinds of diversity. But what we are really focused on is, how can we look at the culture and the environment across FinTech and see how that's connecting to some of those representation challenges. As Inchorus, we've actually done this work across a couple of different sectors. So a little different to Karen, I haven't spent years in industry, but what we have done is, worked quite extensively with lots of different aspects of the ecosystem with FinTech for All, and that's been really fascinating. And I think what we are looking at doing with FinTech for All is using data to understand what some of the day-to-day challenges are for individuals, using that data to then lean into targeted actions and interventions, and ultimately measuring to see whether that has an effect. We now have over 85 signatories involved on the charter, that was mentioned, and we are really building momentum there working with FinTechs of all different sizes. That leads me to lean into a lot of the people side, and diversity inclusion here, so when we are looking at scaling and helping companies really transition through that fast growth stage, where our real focus is on all your people, how it boils down to that, how are you able to attract and retain that talent and use that to drive innovation, growth, and sustainable success, so looking forward to digging into that more.

Jon Maskery:

Excellent, before I move on to Jim, you talked a bit about your data insights there. Give me an example of one of the most impactful pieces of data insight that you’re seeing at the moment, Rosie.

Rosie Turner:

Really interesting, what we are really looking at is very much day to day, how do we look at those everyday behaviours, comments and actions, and how they are translating for different demographics. We've definitely been able to really drill into certain behaviours that are occurring at quite high frequency. So, 85% of the lot of the logs we see regularly are related to gender. We are often able to look in quite a lot of granularity at what would probably be termed an everyday sexism, and that really ranges from still quite high incidence of like unwanted physical contact still within the workplace, around 10% of our incidents are looking at that. But really just lots of different ways and environments in which certain groups are made to feel that they don't necessarily belong. It's really fascinating when you get under the bonnet. Yeah, happy to direct people to the report in full if there is interest.

Jon Maskery:

I am sure that will be. Now, Jim, we are going to move on to you now, because you've seen it from the large corporate and also involved with FinTechs now, so you're bringing dual perspectives here, tell us a bit about yourself and then give your perspective on what makes success.

Jim Cowles:

Great, thanks Jon, and again it's a pleasure to be with everyone this morning. As Jon said, I spent first part of my career in banking, 39 years in banking, first 20 years in New York, last 19 years in London, as Jon indicated the last job I had was as CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Citi. Then I retired at the end of April 2019, just a little over two years ago, and since then have been involved with a number of startups. Right now I am on the board of five different startups, four of those are FinTech companies, and one is an ag-tech company, and it has been fascinating. It has been a very steep learning curve in terms of delving into the world of start-ups. This issue of start-up to scaleup is something that we address for every one of these companies. We've made some proper moves and we've obviously made our share of mistakes as well as we go through that, but as I take a look at it, making that step from start up to scaleup, there is a couple of things I look at.

The first thing is, you got to make sure you have the right foundation in terms of a company. For that I mean the company and your team have got to be clear and unified in terms of what is the purpose of the company, why do you guys exist, why have you brought it together. First of all, what's the purpose for what you are doing. Secondly, what's your vision in terms of where do you want to take the company; when you look at it in 3 or 5 or 10 years, what do you envision that company to be. The third thing is what are the values you have around the company, what are you telling your people. Goes back to Rosie's point in terms of how do you recruit people, how do you retain people, what are the values that you have, and that's important not just internally, but also what are you telling your investors and what are you communicating to the client base, or your hopeful client base, in terms of what your values are. And then you can get the product - what is the product that you're offering? And it goes beyond obviously, what everybody calls MVP, minimally valuable product, to do you have and are you seeing a product market fit? Are you seeing demand for your product? Obviously your product is going to continue to evolve over time, but do you see enough demand for that to really justify that scale? Then as you are looking to do that scale up, do you have the resources to be able to maintain that scale up, because you've only got one chance to do that. It is important, you got to make sure you've got the right people, that your team is aligned, you’ve got to make sure you have the financial resources, and you also have to make sure that you've got the operational resiliency so that as you start that scale up, that it doesn't fall over. Because again, you've got one chance in terms of going to the marketplace and proving to people not just the worth of your product, but the quality, and the resiliency and robustness of it as well. That’s the way that I look at it, some of that journey in terms of building the foundation, and then making sure you have those different resources and capabilities in place as you start your scaleup.

Jon Maskery:

Jim, that’s great, and one other thing that struck me is, you are on the board of five start ups at the moment. What pulled you into, you must get demands all the time, but what attracted you to those specifically?

Jim Cowles:

When I left Citi, having spent 39 years in a large institution, I thought I’ve done that, and I don’t want to do that anymore. Hopefully, some of these companies grow into large institutions and that I can pass it over to somebody else. So I wanted to really do the start up. Obviously, I had the exposure of some start-ups when I was at Citi, but I really thought, this is getting back to the fundamentals of why we are running the business, which is, and I remember going into my first board meeting for one of these companies, and it was six hours, and we talked about the things that we should talk about. We talked about strategy, and we talked about those things I mentioned in terms of, what’s our purpose, what’s our vision, what’s our strategy, what are we doing in terms of recruiting people, what are we doing in terms of getting ready to go to market, what are we doing in terms of financing. Yes, of course we talked about governance and we talked about regulations, but it didn’t dominate the discussion as sometimes those two things can dominate the discussion within a large bank. It was a refreshing experience to go back and really talk about the fundamentals of what it takes to be a successful company and how to embark upon that.

I would also say that the actions you take, you can see the impact of those things rather immediately as opposed to being in a large institution, where sometimes it takes a little bit longer to reach to decisions and then see an impact of it.

Jon Maskery:

Speed certainly coming through there, Jim. Another topic that seems to be flowing through in all of the answers is really collaboration. Nick, let me handover to you, so that you can explore some of the collaborative aspects of success.

Nick Chouksey:

Thanks very much Jon, and I was going to pick up on the same thing. I heard a number of key words from what you all said, that in terms of partners, inclusion, team, investor, strategy, vision, and all of those that we see both working in the industry and also from our own organisation, is the need to do that together, to do that collaboratively, to do that with others. Obviously, you all come from different backgrounds in terms of how FinTech and how scaling process works. It will be great to get your insights into where you see collaboration, what you see as important, and to help bringing to life some of those examples if you can, and where it works successfully for you, so maybe, if I ask Karen first of all.

Karen Bailey:

My role now has been written with very large partners, like PwC. Actually, I started my first job as employee number 16 in a company that I spent a formidable amount of time with, and so I really have an affinity for the start-up community. One of the things that we really like to do as part of this, I am on, in Microsoft what’s called a virtual team, and the virtual team helps to engage start-ups and mentor them through our process, to get them into the scale out and scale up efforts of the work that they are working on. It is one of the powers of our company, like Microsoft. First of all, we have in our ecosystem, over 60,000 partners with whom people can work. We do a lot of partner to partner work - so how do we help from a collaboration standpoint. Interesting partners that either have interesting solutions, bring those solutions to bear through other partners or are there ways where we can connect partners to each other, to create synergies from a solutioning perspective as well. In our role, we spend a lot of time actually hoping to win those collaborations, how do we bring back to root together. There are couple actually happening right now in neobanks and challenger banks, and FinTechs that are now starting to come together and really leverage the power of partnership to build a solution faster or to build a solution more completely. That kind of collaboration, just partner to partner, and partner is one of the key areas to get to market fast, and to grow faster as an organisation.

The other thing we do from a collaboration standpoint, is we actually collaborate with our customers as well. I was fortunate enough in my 20 years in financial services, in technology, to work with a lot of our innovation teams on looking at new partners coming into the ecosystem to see are there things that we could do in order to enhance our business, enhance operations, disrupt in some cases from a business perspective? We used to have pitch parties, where we would look at start-ups coming into the ecosystem to see is there anything useful. That’s one of the things that I love the most, is looking at what the product is, and the product fit, and is it something that would have solved the problem that I was trying to solve before from a financial institutional perspective. We are doing the exact thing now. We partner with our customers and their innovation labs, we partner with our partners from an innovation perspective, and then we pull partners together in a collaboration to really get that ecosystem to help partners to scale faster.

That collaboration really does allow a partner to be able to get to market faster than some of the financial services organisations, that’s who their end customer is right. It also helps them to build their product faster by not necessarily having to reinvent everything. Every time we see something and say, I know of a product that already does that, let’s see if we can pull all those things together and get you to market faster, that’s the power of collaboration.

Nick Chouksey:

That’s really insightful, and with an organisation like yours, with so many partners as you mentioned, you can clearly see collaboration flowing through the ecosystem. Rosie, if ask you next, from your perspective, given the scale of your businesses that you are involved in, how do you see collaboration working with you, and do you see it in a different way, and how do you see the ecosystem evolving around you?

Rosie Turner:

It’s a really interesting one, because we’ve leant massively into collaboration with FinTech for All. Like I said, we very much looked at this industry approach. A lot of that has come from the fact that, when it comes to complex problems of which, how do you build a more inclusive culture, how do you tackle systemic problems such as racism and sexism, it really is the case of, you need masses of collaboration, you need all those different kinds of perspectives feeding into the solution, working together to explore what it might be.

So FinTech For All, as a program was set up to foster that collaboration right from the outset, and we pulled in lots of different organisations, ranging from membership bodies such as Innovate Finance through to funds like Anthemis and Augmentum, and even the FCA, who obviously is the regulator, to get that breadth of perspective. It has been critical to the approach there.

We also then see within that a really positive amount of collaboration from FinTech to FinTech. That again is something that’s been fantastic around this topic of how do you improve your culture, is often the case we see a lot of good will, but can be quite opaque, knowing what do I do with that, what does that actually mean for me when I go from 30 to 50 people or from 50 to 250 people, particularly when there is a lack of resource, lack of time. A bit like all things start up, one thing that we very easily try to do is build a community, so we have the FinTech for All community, where we have over a 100 strong membership body or group now, where people are able to ask those questions. It’s a safe space to share, what’s working for you, what’s not working for you, and who could you potentially learn from as a FinTech, who are one step or two steps ahead of you. We see really great examples of that with the likes of some of our larger signatories, like Checkout.com, saying, ‘okay, actually we have time and resource to create a really detailed plan for what initial inclusion can look like, but we can opensource that and share that, so that different start-ups of different sizes can take what’s appropriate to them, and make that work.

So that FinTech to FinTech partnership and collaboration and learning around this topic is something that we are really leaning into. Finally, and this is one where we are developing this at the moment is, the ability to, we are pioneering approach this within FinTechs and across the industry, but looking at how we can take some of those learnings and potentially share those with financial services at large, and more broadly, and look at how some of those cultural learnings and patterns can be taken into those larger organisations, perhaps at more legacy cultures and see what can be done there. Really exciting and lots of different ways in which it needs to be approached.

Nick Chouksey:

Great, thanks Rosie, it is an interesting observation you made about FinTechs partnering with FinTechs and one size of FinTech learning from the scale higher than them, and it is clearly talking to that scale, that journey. It’s quite interesting some of the names you mentioned. Jim, if I asked you a similar question, obviously you are on the board of a number of FinTech organisations as you said. How are you finding collaboration and obviously you’ve seen it from large institution level as well - what do you see is collaboration in different environments perhaps and what have you learned from that over the course of your career?

Jim Cowles:

I’d say a couple of things, and first of all for RTGS Global, which is, as Jon said I am on the board of, we are very fortunate, two partners in collaboration, one is Microsoft and the other is PwC. When I look at collaboration, it takes me back to one of the things that is critical about any company, but particularly for start-ups, and that’s how do you leverage the assets that you have and how do you leverage resources. By that I don’t mean financial leverage, I mean leveraging to get more in the different asset categories that you want. For instance, for people, any start up is going to be relatively constrained probably in terms of number of people they have. One of the advantages of collaboration is, you, in essence, get to magnify your staff because of the people you are working with. That’s what we found with Microsoft, that’s what we found with PwC.

The second thing you get obviously is you get subject matter expertise that you may not otherwise have with your core staff. All of a sudden you can tap into people of these organisations in terms of getting that subject matter expertise. Not only you get the people, but you get knowledge that you otherwise may not have.

The third thing you get through collaboration, especially with larger institutions, is you get that reputational advantage. Certainly, when we are RTGS Global, and we call someone and we say, ‘hey, we are working with Microsoft and PwC,’ that is an automatic check in the box in terms of credibility, and that goes just a huge way, especially if you are a FinTech and you are trying to find your way into other large organisations. On one side now, also is, you get some client access. One of things we do with Microsoft and we do with PwC is we compare notes in terms of who do we know, who do they know, and how can we leverage some of those relationships in terms of that access.

Those are the things, for a start-up, you look at and say, ‘my god all of a sudden, I can be,’ and put a magnifying glass around myself and be much bigger than what we are with the resources that we have.

The fourth side of it, of course is, you have to make sure that you go to those partners and that you are delivering for them. Like any client relationship, like any negotiation, you are going to look and say, ‘well, what’s in it for them, and lets make sure that we deliver for them so that they are getting something out of it as well in terms of how they are trying to project their business, expand their business, etc.’ That’s like, in any relationship, is important to keep that in mind and make sure that we are delivering for their needs as well.

Nick Chouksey:

Just to pick up on one of the themes, you mentioned partners that you work with, Microsoft and PwC. When we think about start up and then growth and scale up, at what point in time do you think you need to bring on additional advisors, additional partners, additional board members. How does that additional collaboration, building out your network, work from your perspective from the FinTech community?

Jim Cowles:

You do that from day one. Again, looking at RTGS Global, we are fortunate in terms of having brought a number of advisors, and again what we tried to do is, we looking at it and say, what are the areas that we need to focus on as we develop our product, as we access the market place, and who can we identify who can help us in terms of that area. It has been very specific in terms of again filling in the holes if you will in terms of that subject matter expertise and trying to make sure that we lever into that. So, I think that starts from the very beginning, some of our advisors are simply advisors. In other companies I am involved with, some of our investors can also serve that role. When a FinTech or a start-up, just take a look at what’s their investor base going to be, obviously you can’t always be choosy, but its helpful that you can also find someone who is knowledgeable about your area, who cannot just bring some answer in, but also bring expertise or contacts or what have you, because if they are investing in a company, hopefully they will believe in it, and they will do that as well.

One thing I would say in terms of, just a note of caution, is that it is really important when you bring in advisors, that you continue to treat them as advisors and that they don’t fall into the category of really becoming employees, which sometimes you are going to look and say, ‘again, we only have so many human resources, let’s go ahead and really drag this person in from being an advisor to, instead of just advising actually doing the work.’ The complication with that of course is, first of all, you are probably absorbing a lot more of that persons time than they thought they were going to deliver, but the real thing that you’ve lost is, you’ve lost the sounding board, because I look at the advisors as people who you should go to and say, this is what we are doing, or this is what we are looking to do, we want to get critical feedback. We want to get your reaction to that in terms of, is it the right thing, how should we modify it, should we be doing something different, and so you want to make sure that you keep your advisors as advisors, and not to have them fall into that category of actually doing, that's a critical thing as we look at how we use them.

Nick Chouksey:

Thanks Jim and Rosie given what Jim was saying in terms of use of advisors, investors, sounding boards, do you feel saying from your perspective in terms of how you're trying to grow your organisation that you're involved in, and you've mentioned a number of investors you've already have had, what insight you get from your investor community at the moment?

Rosie Turner:

Talking about two different organisations, as FinTech for All, we initially formed a group of, we often say it the coalition, and it was really group of founding partners, so Innovate Finance, Level 39, FinTech Alliance, and that then has grown out into UK steering committee, which is really about protecting that mission of FinTech for All, a bit like Jim was saying like, they're our sounding board, they're holding us accountable to the work we want to do. Very critically, that we are bringing a different perspective there. A bit like we were saying earlier, that the goal and the mission is a big one for us, and it does require those different viewpoints from across the ecosystem. We now also have the FCA and Anthemis sitting on that board. It really has been hugely valuable for us to be able to go to that committee with the data, with the challenges, with the updates, and get perspectives from an investor perspective, what are they seeing? If we say or we think this could be a really effective action, they come at it through the lens of, how would we approach that as an investor or what would this actually mean for our portfolio companies, or how would that sit in that context. We get a very different viewpoint from the FCA, who has their own remit and mandate, and really looking into how do we create these effective speak up cultures, how do we look at being more proactive, more preventative around these topics?

There's been a fantastic breadth that has enabled us to look at this problem and possible solutions and call to actions for our signatories from a real range of lenses. Just speaking with my Inchorus hat on, we have recently fundraised, it's been an opportunity for us to go through that process as a start-up of looking at how we are bringing different expertise in. I definitely echo that feeling again of being able to pull in and draw in that wider expertise and I really heed to Jim's caution actually around not trying to treat them all as an extension of your company, because I can definitely see the temptation to do that when you just want to over communicate and fit, draw upon all of that. That's really valuable caution there and something I will be taking away from this session.

Nick Chouksey:

Thanks Rosie, probably a similar but slightly different question to Karen. We talked about the benefits to FinTechs with partnerships and collaboration in terms of sounding board’s advice, investment, partnerships with larger organisations, so that they can scale a minimum viable product, etc. From a large organisation perspective, what do you see is the benefit of partnership with a FinTech? What does it provide to you as Microsoft? Also, a related question that's come in from the attendees, what should a FinTech or a start-up look to do when wanting to partner with you? Is there only best practice, any guidance, that you might be able to provide in terms of forming partnerships with large organisations, perhaps?

Karen Bailey:

First, I am going to key off on what Jim went through with RTGS Global, because we've partnered extensively, and there was a common thing there about having another partnership be bi-directional. It has to be good for both parties. From our partner standpoint, I'll say our engineering team is super excited to work with RTGS Global, because they are doing really interesting things, and they either get to work on interesting projects, or they get to learn something new. One of the other areas on which we are working with PwC is the development of solutions that are co-built with our engineering team. I have watched a week ago as our engineering team got a lesson from PwC in actuarial science. We are building something first in the insurance space when they first came in with this, we don't understand actuarial science, we don't have the financial services bench strength that PwC actually has, but we want to work together to build a risk management platform, and so our team needs to learn from that. There are great ways when we partner to help our engineering organisation really understand the nitty gritty of financial services that traditional big company wouldn't actually have, so that's the first. It helps us develop the right product for our customers and ensure that the work that we are doing actually serves our partner community well. How do we build accelerators that allow PwC or that allow FinTechs to go out to market faster without encroaching in their space. That's an enormous benefit.

Of course, the partner community helps us to sell our products, and so we actually go to market with 95% of our revenue being delivered through partners, and so we actually scale our sales motion and our customer motion, which is important for start-ups and any other organisation through that channel, and through that partner community, still they are a vital part of the work that we actually do. We help companies like RTGS Global, and RTGS Global helps companies like us as well, that's a really important part of our partnership.

As far as establishing a partnership, companies like Microsoft have established partner programs, and I've worked with a lot of start-ups that expect that when they sign up for the partner program, Microsoft is just going to go all in for them, they're going to sell for them, they’re going to fit, they're going to immediately be able to deliver something. The way that I generally explain it is you get what you put into your partnership. The partnership really does have to be bi-directional, really do have to give, and you really have to help a large organisation like Microsoft to figure out how to help you. One of the things that I think I do most inside of our organisation is try to connect to start-ups across the company to be able to figure out how do we leverage engineering, how do we leverage our sales team, how do we leverage industry, how do we leverage our partners, and really help to figure out how to navigate, but if you sign up for the partner program, and you don't step into that, and say, ‘hey, I am looking to do these things,’ and really help drive that conversation, then the reality is I am likely not doing that work for you. It's you get what you put into the partnership, don't expect it to just pay you back by signing up to be part of that partner program.

Nick Chouksey:

Thanks very much, Karen. I am going to pick on one specific word as I move the baton to Jon, which is bi-directional. You mentioned the need for partners to actually work together to work in conjunction with one of the mutual benefits. Jon picks up one of the other themes that is clear in scaling and partnership is culture. I’ll pass back to Jon, and then Jon has got some specific points on culture.

Jon Maskery:

Yeah, thanks for that Nick. I am just reflecting on that and from a PwC perspective how do we work out who to partner with as well. We talked about advisors not becoming employees. The whole process we go through when we look at working with partnerships, is a bit like an interview process. We look at the fit, we look at what you are going to bring to the partnership, how we can develop you, exactly as Karen said, but there is a key point in that. When you are looking to recruit someone, you are looking for that fit in the organisation. We also see from a cultural perspective at the moment, a lot of large organisations are trying to make quite big changes in their culture at the moment, having ended up at a culture where they are at the moment and now trying to retrofit a new culture on top of that. FinTechs starting off from the beginning have an opportunity to create their optimum culture from the start and it's that point, I'd really like to pick up on following the conversation we've had so far.

Again, probably coming to Rosie first of all, optimum culture is important to success, what would you look for, and what do you believe are the recipes for cultural success?

Rosie Turner:

Thank you. Such an enormously large question, but it's almost easy in some ways to look at what it's not or what some of the pitfalls we see, and then where we see FinTechs doing that well. One of the key challenges we see is cultures where there is a disconnect between what people believe the culture is and what it actually is. We need to think about what is the real lived experience. A bit, as we mentioned before, the role of values and the role of actually embedding those and making it not something that is just put on a wall or said in a CEO statement, but actually something that is experienced by all employees and understood by customers, is really important. One thing that we definitely encourage all FinTechs involved in the charter to do, and something that we see particularly successful, FinTech is doing is, really holding up that mirror to themselves and embedding mechanisms where they will have the continuous fast feedback on what the culture actually is, because the other point obviously when the companies going to that fast growth journey, is that’s shifting, it’s shifting month on month rapidly. If you just do one survey six months ago, report on that and leave it, obviously you are going to end up with a disconnect very quickly.

Again, working as Inchorus and supporting FinTech, a lot of the work we are doing is looking at what are the tools that you can embed that will enable you to have that finger on the pulse moving forward, because what you really need to do is to have a true picture of where you are, to then have an understanding of where you want to get to culturally and then it's all about looking at those targeted interventions for you that are going to enable you to close that gap. Yeah, really zooming in on that, where are you, using data to measure that, using data to track how you are moving forward, we actually have quite a few mechanisms that we use to support our signatories in that. We actually now have a slack tool, that is available for all FinTechs that is looking at capturing some of those everyday challenges and giving people a mechanism for that. I think this also really connects to the broader shift we’ve seen, which is culture not being something that is performative, but that is all about walking the walk, not just talking the talk. Over the last, certainly 6 to 12 months, with a lot of the global context, we've seen companies radically accelerate that shift to, well actually our culture can't just be something that we used to recruit, it can't just be something that we talk about, we really have to look at what it means. Yeah, having tools in place, leaning into the data to understand where you are, and once you're building up that picture of your unique talent is, it don’t enables you to lean into those types of interventions, like we are saying. Then definitely as well leaning into having senior buy in, is key around all of this.

Once you understand it, what can you do about it, and how would you ensure that you have resource and backing in order to do that. More broadly looking at the FinTech for All Charter, we have five points that we believe are very accessible for FinTechs of all sizes, but they provide some key pillars as well. If you are a FinTech any different kind of size or point, where could you begin, or what would you need to look at. That's again, really looking at those robust continuous feedback tools, it's looking at policies and processes that you should really have in place and also awareness building around these issues. Those key pillars are critical to assessing your culture and moving it towards one that you really want.

Jon Maskery:

Do you believe that organisations spend enough time thinking about their culture early on, what's your experience in that space? You've mentioned people should do it from the beginning, but is that what you see?

Rosie Turner:

We are definitely seeing a lot more companies looking at it much earlier on, which is really great. It was typically something that was a next year problem for a long time, but there's not much more awareness that like you can accrue debt of all kinds. You're also accruing diversity debt, cultural debt, and that's going to cost you, and at some point you will have to address it. Like most things in life, prevention is better than cure. We are seeing a lot more start-ups, who are really 30 people and less, getting involved in just saying, ‘we know we are not huge, but we do see that where we have a culture, because we are a team, and we are aware that that's growing, and we just want to make sure that we have in place best practice and that we are thinking about this.’ Also, coming back to that point around attracting top talent. think increasingly people see that actually, if you want to grow and you want to be one of the brightest and the best, you need to be thinking about this early, so you're attracting individuals in that top talent.

Jon Maskery:

Excellent, thank you Rosie. Coming back to you Karen, do you look at Microsoft's own culture within working with FinTechs and also what do you look for in a FinTech’s culture when you're working with them? Many of these things are bi-directional, Karen, what’s Microsoft's approach to this?

Karen Bailey:

Yeah, so first of all, I'll say one of the reasons I am at Microsoft, and I will say early in my career, I never thought I'd be at Microsoft just based on where I was and where Microsoft actually was. One of the reasons I am here is because Satya was very intentional about culture transformation inside of Microsoft. There's a point where in his book Hit Refresh, he talks about, that he thinks that CEO actually stands for chief cultural officer, and everything that he did to shift Microsoft to the position it is today, actually started with culture and it was very intentional.

Our growth mindset, our diversity and inclusion, our ESG framework, a lot of the work that we do to really help our organisation get to be innovative, started with intentionally setting culture. It's super important that the culture is intentionally set at the beginning. You work on your strategic business model, you should just, as soon as you work on a strategic model, work on your unique cultural proposition, what makes you unique as a company, and tie that back to the strategy. The culture drives your strategy, your strategy drives your culture. In Microsoft's case, it was really important for us to make the shift from groups of people that were really smart, but were not working together to an entire company that work together to actually innovate, and so the culture intentionally set those things in motion to be able to move us forward to the place that we actually are today.

We look for similar kinds of things in our companies, the start-ups with whom we actually work; from a culture perspective, have they intentionally set culture? If I see a command and control culture, I get concerned about their ability to do a scale out, because there's one person at the top of the house, that is the smartest person in the room and that really automatically has a limiting factor associated with it - it sends warning signs that he may not be able to expand his innovative team or her innovative team, and warning signs that they are going to struggle as they bring on investors and advisors, if they set a command and control culture. So, we really look for cultures that have ESG, diversity and inclusion factors in it, and then cultures that really support innovative mindshare, really innovation from a team working together standpoint, inside a big organisation is really important. Then again, just to be intentional right out of the gate should be, if you said your strategic business model, you should be saying, ‘this is who we are, how we're going to operate” Be intentional and measured, as Rosie said. We have lots of measures. Then, finally compensate on it. We are compensated in Microsoft for working with teams outside of our own, which was super important and more compensated when people use our work and so the entire culture was to get the overall Microsoft to work together not just one smart team doing one thing inside of the organisation.

Jon Maskery:

Thank you Karen and I'm going to come across to Jim now as well. Because you've got a portfolio of five FinTechs at the moment and you've obviously got the large corporate experience that you've already highlighted. There's a difference in culture from your opening statements, but across your five FinTechs Jim, do you see different cultures, do you see things that work well, things that work less well, what's your view on how their cultures are evolving?

Jim Cowles:

The first thing I would say is, I am a cultural convert. If you had asked me 20 years ago about what's the culture with investment banking, and what's the culture on the trading floor, I would have thought you were talking about some ephemeral thing out there, that wasn’t tied to business, and nothing could be further from the truth than that. Obviously, having been at Citi, and being in banking, we've went through a massive cultural change, if you will, and upheaval in terms of the way that we looked at it. I now look at culture and say, you've got your strategy at one end and you’ve got your results on the other, and the thing that connects us to things, the thing than take you from strategy to whatever your results are, are your people. To get the right people, to get the most out of your people, you’ve got to have the right culture in terms of how you are going to deliver it. If you don’t have the right people and the culture that is healthy, then you are not going to build a sustainable company. One of the other things I believe is, if you are in a regulated business, if you don’t have a culture of openness, and inclusion, it is just a matter of time until you are going to have a regulatory problem, because your people have got to feel as if they are safe and that they are expected to raise issues that they see. If they do not feel that they are in an inclusive environment where they can do that, where they have that freedom and an obligation to raise their hand when something is wrong, then you are going to end up with a regulatory problem in some point in time. I am a huge believer in setting the right culture. I think that it is never too early, as Rosie was saying and as Karen was saying, because as soon as you get 2 people together you are going to start getting a culture, which is the dynamic. If you don’t consciously think about what culture you are trying to set, then you are probably going to end up with the wrong culture. It is no different than a company is saying, well Jim, I don’t know what my strategy is, but let’s just go forward. You are never going to make it if you don’t know what your strategic objectives are. The same thing I would say on the culture side as well. Again, one of the things that the people see is, and Rosie touched on this, if there is not a consistency in terms of what you say you are doing and what you do, then people are going to call that out and they are going to say that you are not living up to what you talked about, which is why, in the beginning I said, purpose, vision and values are so important to set up at the beginning.

Looking at the different companies that I am involved with, every one of these companies is going through that process of, what are the values that we have, how are we trying to articulate that to people? Are we then being consistent in terms of not just scaling what our values are, but are we communicating those frequently, are we looking at what our policies and procedures are, and do they adhere to what we say our values are, to Karen’s point, are we rewarding people based on what those values are. There has got to be a consistency throughout it in terms of how you are treating your people, how you are treating your clients.

To a large degree I would say that all the companies that I am involved with, we are trying to have that collaborative inclusive type of environment and culture, because that’s what I believe is most important, and as the CEO, Karen said, its chief cultural officer. I look at it and say that the job of a CEO is to assemble the best team and get the most out of the team, and the only way you are going to do that is by having a healthy culture.

Jon Maskery:

100% agree Jim. Its really interesting, as we are talking about scaling for success, and as a start-up and a growing FinTech, you will get to where you are going because of your culture, but there will be an increased burden as you grow, that will be a requirement for more governance, but it’s about being very precise and focussed on getting the best of both worlds in the balance in order to be successful moving forward. Really useful insights on culture there.

Reyhan, I understand you’ve got a question, so do you want to come in with your question.

Reyhan Jethani:

Yes sure, thank you Jon and then thank you guys as well, really insightful. Couple of questions from the attendees and a couple of them followed a similar topic, I am just going to try and summarise it. I know we’ve got a couple of minutes left.

Going back to the collaboration piece and collaborating particularly between a big organisation and a FinTech and how beneficial that partnership can be for both of those types of organisations. That partnership can be tricky sometimes big organisation looking at the type of risk they maybe taking on. It can be a slow process for both those parties involved, which can lead to bit of frustration, and I am going to challenge you guys, and I know this could probably be a whole session by itself, but what are the couple of things that you think that can be done to help that partnership run smoother, facilitate those better partnership for both of those parties. This maybe a question to Karen, just to your thoughts as well.

Karen Bailey:

I would be the first to acknowledge this. Sometimes working with Microsoft is painful process. Also, we have lots of conversations as a team about how to remove friction in our process, we are not always successful. We’re evolving, we will get there eventually, but it’s a painful process. This is not going to be the greatest answer in the world, but in all honesty it is finding the right people. If you come into the system and you are doing the things you need to do, meaning in some cases its your engineering team is working correctly and engaging, your alliance team is working correctly. We do recommend that people have someone, who is responsible for channels and alliance, and understand what we are trying to do on the alliance side of the house. I have had start ups who started that process and then turned around and found the unlinked, and believe it or not, and said, ‘can you please help me.’ Sometimes it is finding the right person that helps you to navigate the organisation. The second is, figure out how the organisation works. One of the first things that I start in a conversation with start-ups all the way through our largest partners like PwC, is the conversation about how Microsoft works.

We work around very specific calendar, with very specific set of teams, very specific language. The more you understand about our language, the more you can actually activate our team. I help our partners to create a bit of a Rosetta stone - how do you see the world, how do we see the world, and how do you translate between the two. It unlocks things that you can’t possibly say that it would unlock.

For example, if you can talk to our sales team correctly, for every account that we actually manage, we have 10 sales people associated with that account, its crazy. We have an entire set of partner people that are also sales people associated with it, and channel people, who are also salespeople associated with it. If you can help speak our language, I can unlock all of those people for you. If you don’t speak the language, the team has no idea how to work with you, and you don’t get it, what you want out of the partnership with Microsoft. It really is, understand the company and then do the work to really engage the company as they would like to be engaged. Then apologies, ahead of time, for the friction in our process.

Reyhan Jethani:

Thank you Karen and thank you guys with other questions, we will try and get some answers back to you, but I will pass on to Nick.

Nick Chouksey:

Thanks, Reyhan, and just to close out then, I want to say thank you all for joining and particularly to all the panellist, to Jim, to Rosie, and to Karen for your contribution. What you provided is an extremely insightful session around how FinTechs and businesses can look to scale and to grow, but with specific comments around that collaboration piece, how do organisations look to partner, what is important in the partnership model, and also what do the cultural elements mean. When we look at the culture, we look at both the individual organisations, but the partnerships between and how does mutual interest, mutual vision, purpose and values come together to allow both businesses to be successful and to thrive.

Just to close out, it has been a fantastic session, I hope everyone has enjoyed it, I hope everyone who has been able to join has enjoyed it and those watching later on by video will also enjoy it.

As Reyhan said, if there is any follow up question, then please do contact us, and we look forward to seeing you all again, so thank you very much.

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