Lockdown life has created myriad opportunities and challenges for all businesses to navigate, whether commercial or logistical. As the Square Mile slowly becomes less vacant, organisations in the financial services are faced with a balancing act of keeping up with the sector’s new urgency to evolve, while managing the wellbeing of a distributed workforce.
We spoke to Eric Mouilleron, Founder & CEO of Bankable, and Level39 member, to discuss the reaction of the financial services sector to Covid-19 and how his team has pivoted in the face of adversity.
The main thing I have noticed since the start of lockdown is just how adaptable my team is – we’ve had total business continuity. That’s not very easy as we employ people with a wide range of ages and nationalities.
Eric is proud of how resilient his team has been throughout the outbreak but acknowledges that maintaining morale is about more than simply asking staff how they are coping. He says that business leaders need to dig a little deeper at this time.
“It is tempting for team members to say they are fine when they are not. We need to ask more often – are you really ok? Especially with high achieving and hard-working employees who do not necessarily say when they are struggling.
“We also need to consider the impact practices such as Zoom meetings are having. It’s enabled so much but can chip away at employees’ privacy as everyone gets the chance to see where they live. Video calling is an intrusion of someone’s private space so it’s important to think about how this affects my team. I’m aware that for younger members of the team, the process can sometimes be a bit embarrassing. I fully respect that”.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created plenty of opportunities for fintech companies to flourish. Restrictions on physical customer access to branches has accelerated the speed at which traditional banks are digitising their offerings – companies like Bankable are here to help them achieve this efficiently.
“I think many B2B companies like us have seen a surge in work. Large organisations in the financial services sector are pushing ahead with strategic digital projects at a rate I’ve never seen before. Projects previously co-ordinated via monthly meetings before the coronavirus outbreak are now being updated weekly instead. Some that used to complete in nine months are now taking three. Clients are seeing lockdown as an opportunity to improve their services.
A recent discussion with a global bank typifies this. We started talking to them only a month ago and now we are starting the project. This speed is unheard of for the industry. It is reassuring to see banks accelerate their decision-making process in this environment.
But it’s not just customers that are heeding lessons from the pandemic. For Eric, the last few months have reinforced the value of communication, particularly when it comes to bonding with employees and ensuring their wellbeing.
“We are living in the new normal, but I hope it does not last forever. A huge part of business is starting new relationships and growing your network. We need these relationships to be successful and cannot develop and maintain them through Zoom calls alone. This is applicable to the whole business landscape, not just Bankable. Things have changed a great deal in recent months, but I do not believe they will stay this way. I personally cannot wait until we are all back at Level39 – there is nowhere else in London quite like it.”
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