First, fintechs disrupted banks’ business models. Now they are doing the same to recruitment after Robinhood revealed it wants to become a ‘remote-first’ company.
The retail trading platform said in a blog post this week that for ‘a large segment’ of its 3,400 employees, “there will be no location or regular in-office requirement, and teams will come together in-person occasionally for key experiences and moments that drive connection and innovation.”
Robinhood said some teams will need to live close to an office location for regulatory and business reasons, but that the aim is for the majority of staff to work remotely.
The company said this will enable it to attract and retain more diverse talent.
More fintechs will embrace remote working as they plot global expansion. On January 10, Stripe founder and CEO Patrick Collison said on Twitter that in the last quarter, 74% of the company’s hiring was outside the Bay Area and Seattle, up from 39% in the first quarter of 2019. “I think the rate at which tech industry is going global is still under-appreciated, and that this will be a big tailwind for the world over the next decade,” he added. Of the 2078 open roles on the company website, more than a fifth (475) are specifically advertised as remote working.
This prompted Brian Armstrong, CEO and co-founder of U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase to respond with a similar perspective, saying that the company’s recruitment outside the Bay area rose 89% in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared with 30% in 2019. “Silicon Valley is now in the cloud,” he tweeted. This is backed up by some hard numbers - Coinbase is currently advertising 428 of its 505 open jobs as remote positions.
Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of AirBnB agrees: “yup, the place to be was Silicon Valley. It feels like now the place to be is the internet (which is everywhere). I expect this trend to only accelerate.”
Robinhood says it is adopting a remote-first strategy after seeing how following the pandemic showing ‘flexibility and trust allows teams to do their best work, attract top talent, and create a workplace that’s more inclusive and equitable.”
This ethos stands in sharp contrast to the approach taken by big investment banks like Goldman Sachs which has called for staff to return to the office next month as cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant start to peak. James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley has also been a vocal proponent of returning to the office while JP Morgan wants people back in the office full-time, with CEO Jamie Dimon saying he’s “done” with Zoom meetings. There are obvious differences between fintech and traditional investment banking, which is a people business and thrives on human contact. But with banks competing for talent with fintechs more broadly as well as in areas such as payments, IT and trading, it will be interesting to see which approach wins out.
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