This is the first in a seven-part blog series about the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Financial Technology leaders. Today, Colin Slight of the Realization Group, Philip Miller, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Solidatus and Leda Glyptis, Chief Client Officer, 10x Future Technologies discuss how the pandemic helped them capitalise on market opportunities.
Living through a pandemic over the past 18 months has challenged us all to show leadership as we have struggled to face up to the enormous upheaval in our personal and professional lives brought about by Covid-19. Entrepreneurs and innovators have arguably been better equipped to adapt to change due to the inherent nature of what they do.
In this article, we examine the first of 7 common characteristics of leaders who have thrived through the pandemic, setting up their teams for lasting success in the new era. We spoke to a group of financial technology pioneers about how they have survived and thrived in the Covid era. While they come from a variety of different business backgrounds, financial technology leaders tend to share some key traits.
In more prosaic times, “capitalising on market opportunity” typically involves identifying a potential gap or opportunity to be filled in the market, and then taking steps to research it and to develop an offering around it. In pandemic times, however, “market opportunity” became a rather more unexpected target, involving rapid mobilisation and movement towards capitalising on it.
The need for agility
Solidatus is a firm whose product empowers organisations to effectively map, manage and monetise their key asset – data. At the beginning of 2020, Solidatus entered the pandemic in rude health. It was already capitalising on a huge market opportunity – the ability for firms to understand their data estate and associated intellectual property, in a disparate, fragmented environment of systems, applications, processes and people that is subject to a high degree of change.
The pandemic served to further reinforce these sorts of intellectual property problems amongst Solidatus’ client base: workforces became even more spread out, it became even more difficult to speak to the subject matter experts and to understand what was happening with data across an organisation. The firm found itself with a huge volume of inbound leads, at the exact time it was also having to adapt to new working conditions. With 50% planned growth and another 50% demand-led growth for the firm, it’s been a hugely successful year.
How did they capitalise on it? And how have they continued to develop sales relationships and new client relationships under pandemic working conditions, whilst still capitalising on the opportunity? Says Philip Miller, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Solidatus, “For the first 6 or 7 months, we let the opportunities come to us. We were almost bewildered by the number of incoming leads we had not deliberately built. We were stunned. Our natural growth led us to bring on more sales personnel but demand still outstripped our capacity. We then actively invested in building out our team, and at the beginning of this year, we started making a conscious effort to reach past those incoming leads and to start generating leads for ourselves. We’ve also adapted our strategy, reaching out beyond financial services to the insurance sector, and to the Treasury operations within large multinationals as well. We’ve moved into a bigger pond now, by seeing the opportunity and making investment to capitalise on it.”
The importance of leadership and being human
All of our financial technology leaders emphasised the impact that the pandemic has had on their leadership of people – how they’ve had to adapt and evolve their people management skills, to become more aware of the role of communication and to actively lead the charge in ensuring good communication, teamwork, morale and support frameworks in their organisations.
“In order to manage a team, at the best of times, there are two things you need to be able to do well, and those two things become both much more important, and significantly harder, during a pandemic. You’ve got to drive results, and you’ve got to still be human. And that puts a burden on you as a leader. But having that human connection with your teams, particularly in times of stress is extremely important. And it’s extremely important that you maintain that humanity while driving results”, says Leda Glyptis, Chief Client Officer, 10x Future Technologies.
Miller agrees: “We’ve had to re-learn to trust the human condition a little bit. And that’s probably one of the best things to come out of this. We’ve had to recognise that we’re all in this together, that everyone’s got the same worries and we’ve all been at home and locked away from our colleagues. So that’s one of the biggest positives, that we will be more empathic as a group of people when this is all over. I don’t think that will disappear too quickly. I think people will respect other people a little bit more. And I think that’s going to be a good thing.”
In part two, the next blog in this series will cover ‘The Art of listening: how highly effective financial technology leaders listen to customers and look to solve their problems’.