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Financial services providers are often overwhelmed by rapid changes in technology, alongside regulatory and policy demands. This often leads to a shortage of specialist skills like cyber, legal and compliance. The natural tendency for many financial service providers is to sign the first candidate who can demonstrate knowledge on these areas. However, it is essential that they take time to secure a highly skilled team of experts who possess a mix of professional qualifications and, more importantly, experience.
Traditional recruitment is a slow and arduous process. Securing good, high-skilled professionals can take months. This is why there is soaring demand for these roles, which shows no signs of slowing into 2023. There was a shortage following the pandemic; this left many financial service providers in dire need of skilled talent. While the sector faced a shortage in skills post-pandemic, there are “additional areas where staff need to be upskilled and trained.” Despite additional training during the lockdown, KPMG found that the number of staff who received training in critical areas, such as cyber, was still low. This is why many firms turn to highly experienced individuals, choosing to add to their existing skills to serve customers.
PayAlly’s Finance Director, Robert Ford acknowledges that the shortage is a “problem”, explaining that the “profession is upside down.” Many companies look for the best people in the industry, those with experience, not necessarily qualifications. This differs from most businesses, like the medical or legal profession, where a mix of qualifications and knowledge are required. This trend will reverse as “colleges get to grips with what’s needed to train” specialists. In the meantime, PayAlly has concentrated on “talking to people, interviewing them and getting the right people within the organisation for what is needed.”
PayAlly’s Founder, Rafal Andzejevski observes that financial service providers often hire front and back office staff without considering their background in business. As a result, many of the questions they ask clients exclude the needed logic that is often obvious for business owners. Sometimes it’s easy for the clients to provide evidence. On the other hand, they may struggle to locate all the documents to satisfy checks. Some business owners become frustrated at “the people behind the computer screens”; it may feel as if the front office people they talk to copy and paste questions without considering the experience of entrepreneurs or taking a genuine interest.
This is a situation PayAlly tries to avoid. Rafal explains, “This is where you have good people, experienced ones, not juniors who struggle to understand the points of view of business owners. We have a talented team experienced in both worlds.”
Over the past two years, PayAlly’s growth came from client referrals and word-of-mouth. Due to the company’s cautious attitude, it realised it was rejecting more clients than was necessary. Rafal recalls, “We worked out that if we sat down with business owners and Chief Finance Officers who are frustrated with what’s available in the high street, thus, want to open an account with us, we agree on a bespoke plan. This strategy has proven to be commercially viable for both the clients and us. We get more business without increasing risk.”
As a result, the company found itself taking on more clients in 2021. In the coming months, it will focus on transitioning from a startup to a mature operation through several key hires. This will help free the time of its directors, ensuring they can concentrate exclusively on strategy, capital and long-term growth plans versus day-to-day operations.
Robert observes, “It’s all about people and experience. The major asset of the company is the staff. That’s what we are selling. We are selling their time. The staff are very valuable to us. It is not like a property company, where if all the staff disappear, you are still left with the properties.” This analogy perfectly sums up the company’s reliance on the skills and knowledge of its people to deliver a superior service.
Payally Limited is a company registered in England and Wales (company number 10600055). Payally Limited is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (firm reference number 944721) to issue electronic money (e-money) and provide payment services.