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Hacking COVID-19: how one FinTech is fighting back

FinTechs have been knocked for six

Whether you’re a founder, an investor or a FinTech enthusiast, everyone involved or interested in new technology for the financial services industry is wondering what’s in store in the coming months. A lot of thoughts and potential scenarios emerge from the seismic shifts that are taking place right now.

In this article, we interview a FinTech founder and one of our Rise members, Ky Nichol, CEO of Cutover, a leader in work orchestration and observability, to understand his team’s recent experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and get his thoughts on what the future might hold.

The recent diary of a FinTech

COVID-19 has impacted businesses around the world and Cutover is no exception. As Ky says: “Our main priority is keeping our employees safe. Since March 16th, we’ve all been working remotely and we’ll continue to follow government guidelines around this. We’ve also taken some extra measures to ensure staff welfare is front and centre of our plans.”

Cutover are accommodating the need to work atypical hours so that team members can handle, for example, the extra childcare duties when schools close. And they’ve also been able to expand their sick pay policy and launched a programme for employees to obtain virtual mental health services free of charge.

Working remotely can have its challenges due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. As a team, they’ve learned that in times like these, over-communication is no bad thing. Saying more, rather than less, really works. And leaning heavily on their cloud-based communications tools, Slack and Zoom Video, has been essential.

Business continuity at this time

Cutover has adapted to the new routine in daily operations. It’s a bit different operating completely remotely, but with all of the great communication and collaboration technology, the company has been able to continue pretty much with business as usual (BAU). They’ve been focusing on the release of product capabilities, new product development and prototyping with clients.

Since all in-person events were cancelled or postponed, hosting webinars to engage with their clients and prospects has been invaluable. They’ve also been mindful that clients are dealing with added challenges brought on by the pandemic and may, as a result, need extra support from the company.

How are Cutover’s clients adapting and responding to BAU? In the past few weeks, the company has worked with various clients to ensure the success of their work during this time of uncertainty. One client, a large multi-national bank, has slowed its change activity to ‘critical only’ for a period due to the pandemic. But that’s brought extra work for their management team, who have become busier as they re-plan and reschedule changes across the entire business. The bank is using Cutover to do this, and that lets them collaborate, communicate and align easily.

“We’re really proud of that, and also how our product is being used with other clients in direct response to COVID-19.”

Showing the team that we’re planning for the worst, but hoping for the best has been powerful.

Ky Nichol

CEO | Cutover

What are the lessons?

As Ky points out: “One thing I've noticed is that teams are working longer hours from home, so we need to ensure that everyone finds time to unplug and take the time they need to rest and recharge. We realise that the risk for working from home is burnout and we’re keen to see people schedule breaks in their day.”

Cutover has also spotted, and been able to respond to, changing requirements and opportunities. Based on input from clients and within the team, they’re re-imagining the processes and ways of working within client organisations to improve their resilience and allow critical work to be executed more effectively under these new conditions.

One other lesson. People are at the heart of any organisation, which means it’s not all about work. The Cutover team have had some fun during these strange times, from organising virtual happy hours to using a random-name picker to pair up people for virtual coffees. Patience, communication and some added good humour have been invaluable during all the day-to-day work.

What will FinTech look like on the other side?

It's hard to call the long term effects, but Cutover certainly don’t see the immediate COVID-19 challenge being addressed by FinTechs doing the same things but in a new way – with remote teams. It’s more than trying to make old methods work and fit.

According to Ky, there is now impetus to “iterate and adapt to new ways of working that are resilient across locations, whether teams are distributed or co-located.

“Now feels like a great time to help. If you know situations where you can deliver innovation, people in those situations will remember you reaching out to help.”

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