5 min read

Introducing the 11:FS values

David M. Brear

As you may have noticed I’ve been doing a lot of teasing around this for the last few months. Well today...right now...is the grand reveal as we celebrate the public launch of our 11:FS values.

But before I go ahead and let you in, I’ll be taking a look at our principles and how we embody them in everything we do. First up, an introduction to where we started, how we’ve grown and where our culture’s going next.

We are not normal

We’ve done alright. In the last three years I think we have done a pretty good job of figuring it out step by step and building a business that has the potential to change the fabric of the industry.

During those three years we have lived through three main views:

  1. Industry - Digital Banking Is 1% Finished: This is a war cry to an industry that spends billions and stands still at best. It’s our hope that there is a better way.
  2. Behaviour - Don’t be a dick: This is our motto for being good people. To one another. To people we work with. To the customers of our customers.
  3. Focus - Get shit done: We are in an industry renowned for underwhelming delivery. We are the antidote to that. We can do what others do with 100 people with 10 and have proved this.

From holding each other to these core views we’ve managed to achieve some great things.

In terms of our success, let’s reflect a little on four stats:

  1. In the first three years of trading, 87.6% of all businesses in the UK fail.
  2. Only 2.2% of businesses operate in more than one site. We are one of those with our office in New York.
  3. With our 2019 financials, we are within the top 4% of businesses for revenue and profitability.
  4. Of the top 25 startups according to LinkedIn, of which we are 7th, we are the only one who hasn’t taken VC funding.

By all terms and stats we are a freak of nature. I couldn’t be prouder of how far we’ve come in such a short time and it’s all down to being surrounded by a team that hustles while staying humble.

For me culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion. It isn’t about conformity but understanding our connective tissue

While those three views were all we needed when we were small, now that we’re scaling faster and growing larger, it feels like a good time to reflect a little on what has made us abnormally successful. It’s also the time to ensure that we have the foundations in place to bring change to the industry.

Enter 11:FS v1.2

So now we are entering version 1.2 of 11:FS.

Why not 2.0? Because we want to preserve many of the things that are making us successful and build upon it to accommodate growth. With that, we are now a little bit older, a little wiser and a little bit more structured, but still as impactful and impatient as ever.

I believe as CEO this is my most important task at hand. The thing I will spend most hours on each week and will never ever be done with. It’s also the one I will protect most passionately.

For me culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion. It isn’t about conformity but understanding our connective tissue. I believe it’s possible to defend and actually build culture with focus. But in order to do this it has to be one of the things everyone in the company is focused on, not just me.

By commit, I mean that we’re willing to hire, train and fire based on them [the values]

Culture will be the difference between success and failure for us. As Henry Ford put it: “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

To this end I believe that it’s really important to codify our core values that we all commit to. And by commit, I mean that we’re willing to hire, train and fire based on them, which is why we’ve taken so long on this.

I believe if we are willing to do that, then we are well on our way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand we want to be.

We don’t micromanage, we macromanage

Key to this is that we are doing this not to micromanage but to macromanage our talent.

We hire smart people for a reason. They bring their expertise to the table so we want to give them as much responsibility and decision making rights across the piece while providing guidance and advice when needed.

We are aggressive in the macro but human in the micro

Whether they are new to the company or have been here from the start we want to put trust in our people to always do the right thing to the best of their ability. And that comes with knowing what 11:FS values the most.

In the macro and micro

Having thought about this through these lenses to me it’s clear that at 11:FS; we are aggressive in the macro but human in the micro.

It isn’t that we are small, aggressive people... in fact I think we have some of the tallest humans in the world at our company! But that our ambition and our belief in our ability to positively change the fabric of financial services is significant. Equally significant is our dedication to the pursuit to make this so.

Secondly but critically, is that we are aware the way to have the impact we desire in the short and long term is to build a company that acts on purpose and with purpose.

The tension between these two things, that we are both confident and committed to our purpose but are genuinely good people, is the winning combination that ensures we continuously win the best work, as well as nurture the best environment to work in.

Drum roll…

Presenting the 11:FS values

All this said, myself and the people team spent hours of our time looking at getting these values right for us.

The last thing we wanted was our company values to be bullshit posters on a wall somewhere in the office that no one cares about. So by bringing together our collective experiences, what we have seen working... and mostly not working, by talking to a number of our employees in focus groups and 1-2-1s and talking to our clients, we’ve boiled it down to four key areas of focus that are important to us in terms of the behaviours we want to instil at 11:FS.

In keeping with our brand we have reworked some well-known emojis to represent each of our values which we’re now using as part of our internal comms efforts. We are quite fond of emojis (if you didn’t already know!) so we came to realise that this would be an easy transition that would help distill our values way of thinking into the company going forwards. I’ll explain in more detail how we will be using them in a later blog post.

So there you have it. These are our four values. It's important to know at this point that they are our biases, not blindly and exclusively how we act.

However great these sound, they were still not enough for us. It’s a great start but still relatively vague and lacks the narrative around them that is the key to unlocking actual meaning to individuals in the company.

For each value there are also three attributes which make this quantifiable, actionable and measurable and will form part of our performance framework for everyone across the company.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll publish follow-up posts providing a more in depth discussion of these four values, how their attributes roll up the narrative behind them and how we will be using them in the company.

So this isn’t a different 11:FS but us admitting we are a work in progress and hoping that we always will be. As we continue to grow we will be iterating these values and attributes to ensure that we are maintaining the culture and standard that we know and love while remembering how we got here in the first place.

Here’s to 11:FS v1.2!

Like what you read about our values and how we're embedding them at 11:FS? Are you looking for a change of gear or a new challenge? Then head over to our Careers page to see if anything takes your fancy.

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 David M. Brear
About the author

David M. Brear

David is the CEO of 11:FS and since his dream of being a sportsperson was crushed (along with the ligaments in his knee!) and he had to get a proper job, he has worked in pretty much every angle of financial services industry but never lost that competitive desire to win.

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