What your scale-up talent strategy might be missing.

Article written by Doug Beck, Executive Search Specialist at X4 Technology.

The UK is home to some of the world’s most exciting and innovative FinTech start-ups and scale-ups. At the distinctive scale-up phase of company growth after your first rounds of funding and having reached Series A stage or similar, getting the talent strategy right is critical.

With most scale-ups having achieved growth of 20% or more in either headcount growth or turnover YOY (for at least 2 years) the talent strategy and appropriate talent partnerships will start from around 10 people.

Due to the scale up phase usually being one of the quickest and most important to a company’s success, it is usually one of the most challenging. I partner with businesses at start-up phase, scale-up phase and beyond, and have found the level of support and guidance at scale-up phase is the greatest.

Network support

If you are not reaching out to others in your industry who are at similar growth-stages, then you are missing out on a huge learning opportunity. Connecting with people through events, forums and LinkedIn will allow you to ask questions and share your challenges for peer-to-peer support.

Research groups online and look out for events coming up that will allow you to network. X4 Technology hosted multiple “virtual round tables” in 2020 to bring together CEO’s and Founders from companies at similar stages in their growth journey and the feedback was fantastic. At a time where emotions are high, speaking to a “stranger” who knows what you are going through can be a game changer.

Reach out to me direct if you would like to know more about up-coming events by emailing

Prioritize culture early

At scale-up phase you are confident in your ability to run a profitable business. Success and confidence surrounding your ROI means you are not only attractive to investors, but top talent as well.

Not prioritizing and reviewing your culture at each stage of your growth can be a costly mistake. Culture is something you develop whether you intend to or not, so it is important to cultivate the type of culture that is aligned to your vision and one that is best for your people.

  • What have you learnt about your culture from start-up phase?
  • What works that you want to take with you into the next growth phase?
  • What aspects of your start-up culture do you want to leave behind?

You may have had a handful of people wearing many hats and performing varied tasks in the early stages, whereas now, you are likely to need a more specialist workforce with niche skills. This type of hiring demands the need for a structured interview and on-boarding process and a clear people strategy. Interestingly, at a recent CEO event hosted by X4 Technology’s co-founder and CEO, Peter Rabey, there was a huge increase in businesses hiring Head of People and Chief People Officers.

Embedding robust processes and culture initiatives that support diversity and inclusion, mental health and general employee well-being is going to be a necessity for 2021. Get ahead of the curve in 2021 by sending out an employee survey in January to evaluate what your culture is now and what needs work. January is also a brilliant time to communicate your company vision again and get your team bought into the positive culture you want to cultivate.

Talent partner

Scaling a FinTech requires competent and skilled people. Highly experienced talent with niche skill sets are not easy to come by, and without a talent partner who already has access to this level of passive candidates, you may struggle to find the talent you need quick enough.

This challenge is magnified when you have the stresses of running your business and don’t have the time to sift through candidates yourself. Working with a recruitment agency, who has previous experience working for businesses at a similar size and in the same industry, is key to finding the best talent quickly.

What we have learnt from Covid-19, is that you have to anticipate the potential for unplanned growth or growth which occurs in a way not entirely foreseen. This means thinking about contingencies and having back up plans to support growth.

Employer Brand

In the earlier stages you may have had support in developing your company brand, but not have had a marketing team on hand to help with employer branding. As you scale, your employer brand will become increasingly important.

To begin with, make sure you have slick website with a careers page, ask your employees to review you on platforms such as Glassdoor, get an Instagram feed going with an insider look into the company culture. If you are not attracting the right talent, you might not be communicating your business in the best possible way externally.

Our consultative approach at X4 Technology is tailored to meet the needs of busy founders and leadership teams in the FinTech sector. We have over 10 years’ experience partnering with fintech entrepreneurs through to FTSE 100 CEO’s and our goal is to facilitate connections between you and the very best technology talent.

Most recently we have partnered with a digital bank to hire the talent responsible for driving their international expansion, customer acquisition and product development. By thoroughly understanding the leadership team’s vision for the business, we have been able to deliver successful searches quickly for key digital banking professionals, from C-suite to graduate level and everything in between.

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