December 9, 2021

The Human Element: OpenFin Builds a Workplace for Change and Transformation

Originally published in Harrington Starr's 'Financial Technologist on 29 November 2021

Technology must never lose sight of the human element. At OpenFin, this is one of our foundational beliefs, and it shows in our platform’s ability to fuel workflow efficiencies and better user experiences on the financial desktop. It also shows in our team. Fostering an outstanding work environment for our employees has always been an important priority, but over the course of the pandemic, we have pursued this goal in new and more substantial ways.

A Mission to Innovate

We’ve taken many concrete steps to give employees a great experience at OpenFin, but one of our most powerful draws is in our DNA: We’re on a mission to transform how the industry works and we have been very fortunate to date to attract great talent who are looking for that sense of purpose.

The legacy financial desktop is rife with applications that cannot share information with one another. This contrasts sharply with the experiences Apple and Google deliver on our smartphones. If you make a dinner reservation on your phone, you might be prompted by other apps to set a reminder, book a car service or notify friends, with the information auto-populated in all cases. Put simply, we deliver this same seamless functionality to the financial desktop to dramatically reduce the inefficiency of manually re-keying information and switching between windows.

This represents a major shift from the industry’s historical approach to software, and our employees are fully invested. Yes, we have a great product suite, but what really secures this buy-in is our status as a driver of change. Younger generations are particularly keen to make a true difference, both personally and professionally. Our transformative technology gives them that opportunity - we have built and are deploying technology that is shaping the future of work. And our recent growth – we now have over 300,000 users and over 3,500 apps in our global ecosystem – is a testament to their impact. Establishing the FDC3 standard and operating FinJS events for the wider industry are other notable achievements that our employees are very proud of.

We also give employees the freedom to experiment with new technologies, which enables efficiencies both internally and for our clients. For today’s technologists, the chance to work with a cutting-edge tech stack, as opposed to an outmoded legacy system, is a top priority for both long-term career development and their day-to-day interest in the job itself.

Put simply, our ability to give employees a chance to do legitimately meaningful work is a huge component of our success.

Employees Come First

The pandemic served as a test of our commitment to employee happiness and productivity. The industry-wide pivot to remote work coincided with our development of Workspace, an extensive suite of OpenFin-built tools to fuel employee productivity from any location. This functionality is crucial to helping remote workers feel supported, and perhaps it’s unsurprising that during the pandemic, our employees articulated their own needs for support.

The challenges they were facing were myriad. Some were isolated, while others had to adapt to working in distracting environments. People were worried about their productivity, their families and their health, both physical and mental. We knew we had to do everything we could to provide flexibility. In some cases where employees were working from cramped studio apartments, we invested in individual office spaces. We also allowed employees to work from remote locations in any time zone, provided they maintained the normal working hours of their office.

In fact, in June 2020 we announced that no OpenFin employee would be required to work in an office through the end of 2021, a bold commitment that our employees sincerely appreciated. Our offices remain open, and those who wish to work from there are encouraged to do so. In fact, we’ve established designated ‘Collaboration Days’ where remote employees who want to work together in person can do exactly that.

We’ve also increased investment in company offsites and established company-wide meetings at the end of each day, which can encompass anything from product presentations to team members sharing their talents and passions. None of this is mandatory, but it provides a bit of structure and connection in a world where these things are in short supply.

Values in Focus

Our mission to build a top-notch workplace goes beyond our product suite and pandemic response. For one thing, we pride ourselves on our flat hierarchy, which allows employees of all experience levels to have a voice in the business. Some of our best ideas have come from the youngest team members, and more stratified organizations simply don’t give them that chance.

In addition, we strive to foster diversity both within OpenFin and in the tech space at large. We prioritize inclusive hiring practices, with each hiring manager receiving concrete objectives. We also invest in our internal women’s group which is really important for a tech firm and we have supported the wider industry “WeAreTechWomen” initiative for 3 years.  In addition we work with Code Nation to teach tech skills to students from underserved communities. Diversity missions are easier for large organizations with vast budgets, but we’ve proven that you can make them a top priority while remaining relatively small and nimble.

Finally, we make sure we have fun in whatever we’re doing. When I first joined the firm, I was stunned that we spend more on employee entertainment than client entertainment, but sure enough, these perks play a key role in fostering a sense of community and alignment among our team

Conclusion

Overall, we need the best talent, the most cutting-edge technology and true diversity to optimize our business. It all links back to our team, and that’s why we invest so heavily in our people. When employees are well incentivized and enjoy what they do, productivity flows naturally, and that’s something that the entire industry should be able to get behind.

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