More than 80% of Bud's workforce has been hired from non-financial backgrounds, as the team looks to cultivate a diverse and resilient workforce to lead it through expansion

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The Bud team (Credit: Bud)

Bud is a growing London fintech start-up working to make take advantage of open banking to make the world of finance simpler. Andrew Fawthrop speaks to Bud’s head of people Hannah Grinsted about how the company is trying to ensure it maintains a strong culture while quickly scaling its operations – and why it recruits staff with art, astrophysics and music engineering backgrounds


For young fintech companies, quickly scaling up their operations is an important early developmental stage, as they seek out growth, investment and a wider audience for their products.

A key aspect of meeting those objectives is expanding the workforce, and hiring the right people can make a big difference to how well a new business copes with the pressures that lie ahead.

Having recently raised $20m (£15m) in funding, UK fintech Bud has now made finding new people to join its team a top priority – financial services experience is by no means a prerequisite, with four in five of its new starters joining from other disciplines including art and science – as it looks to use the investment to drive the next phase of its journey.

But the open banking specialist, founded four years ago in London, is not simply looking to boost numbers.

It places a high value on creating and maintaining a diverse and vibrant workplace culture, and its interesting approach to hiring reflects this attitude.

“We know what we need to deliver, we know how many people we need, and we need them all in yesterday – which is a really exciting place to be,” says Bud’s HR boss Hannah Grinsted, who is overseeing the expansion of Bud’s workforce as the company’s “head of people”.

“We went from 17 staff to 70 by the end of last year, and so far this year we’ve hired a further 25 people.

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Hannah Grinsted, head of people at Bud (Credit: Bud)

“By the end of 2019, we’d love to be able to get our team up to 150 members – but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number was more like 200.

“But while bringing new people in is hugely important, you also want to protect your people and their environment so they can do their best work – and our latest investment will allow us to do both of those things.”


Bud targets a strong company culture to see it through growth

Scaling up a business quickly can put a lot of pressure on the people involved, and presents a risk of sidelining the needs of staff members in the pursuit of lofty growth ambitions – a pitfall that has hurt companies like online bank unicorn Revolut.

Bud is making a concerted effort to maintain a strong company culture during this period of rapid expansion, in an effort to create a satisfied workforce that is capable of coping with the demands of what lies ahead.

Ms Grinsted says: “We all know we have a lot to achieve, and the things we are doing are hugely ambitious in terms of the changes we are trying to make in the industry.

“In among all of that, by bringing people together who have that shared purpose makes it a fun place to work where there’s a lot of support.”

“It’s not just about facing challenges on your own, but being part of a close-knit team where you have the support to fail, to get things wrong, to move quickly and learn.

“That’s something which is hugely valuable and, for me, is something that we’re going to make sure we keep hold of as we scale. And so far we have.”


Bud takes a unique approach to building its workforce

Prospective new additions to the Bud team will undergo a values interview, which “speaks to what it means to work at the company in terms of behaviours, attitudes and approaches”.

Ms Grinsted adds: “A lot of places will call this a culture fit, but we don’t refer to it in that way – its far more around the behaviours and attitudes of what it’s like to work at Bud, because fundamentally those end up creating the environment people are working in.

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The Bud team (Credit: Bud)

“It’s not just about whether a person can technically do the job, but whether they can support and enhance what it’s like to work at Bud.”

The values interview assesses four main qualities – “grit, collaboration, courage and real”.

This final element takes into account the fact that both Bud customers and employees are a diverse range of people coming from all walks of life, meaning “everybody has a voice and is listened to”.

This “realness” is something the company takes seriously, and enacts in its hiring policy, which actively looks to attract people from different backgrounds.

More than 80% of Bud employees do not have a history of working in financial services, with people being brought in from a range of industries, including fine art, music engineering and astrophysics.

Moreover, the Bud team is currently made up from more than 17 different nationalities.

“Bringing those different viewpoints, skillsets and experiences helps to make Bud a great place to work, and fundamentally this leads to developing better products and services,” explains Ms Grinsted.

“We’re working really hard to find great talent from different places.

“Our talent team is reaching out to people with different experiences and backgrounds, and making sure that we assess the real things that we need, and don’t rule out people for things that aren’t necessary for the role.

“We don’t’ necessarily look for someone to have a degree, for example, if it’s not needed, and all of our job adverts are worded in a way that’s gender-neutral.”

Last checked, there were 24 live roles open on the Bud website, including visual designers, PRs and data engineers – and notable vacancies for a head of engineering and head of operations.


Bud uses fintech innovation to make finances simpler

London-based Bud was founded in 2015 as a fintech firm dedicated to developing products and technology focused on open banking in the UK.

It identified the complexity of the modern financial system as an issue in need of addressing and simplifying, and aims to do this through the use of open banking APIs (application programming interfaces) – which allow different finance products to connect to one another and share data.

Rich information gathered from APIs allows Bud to gain a broader understanding of the people using banking products, which it says will help it improve the way financial services are delivered to users.

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The Bud offices in London (Credit: Bud)

The Bud platform connects finance institutions to more than 80 third-party fintechs – and vice-versa – enabling banks to integrate products and services into existing apps, or launch new products.

In February, it secured its first major round of funding to the tune of £15m, with notable investors including HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Banco Sabadell and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ).

Ms Grinsted says: “Our overall ethos is trying to make finances simpler for everyone – the way we can do that is by working with the banks.

“For us to be able to understand those aspects of the consumer means identifying the different journeys and working collaboratively within the industry to address those things.

“The new investment we’ve brought in is fantastic and will allow us to bring our vision to life, and the fundamental thing to enable us to do that is to bring people in.

“But more than that, to improve the infrastructure we have to support our staff internally and make Bud a great place to work.”