Episode 85 Interview with David M. Brear CEO of 11:FS
Welcome. To the vine resources. Podcast, show with, your host David. Lawrence. Welcome. To another edition, of the viruses podcast, show, I'm delighted today actually to be in the offices, of 11, FS and I'm here with the CEO David, Britt David thanks bud allowing. Me to come in and see you no problem thanks for having me well if nobody knows who eleven FS is why. Don't you just share with our listeners a little bit about you and the company if that's all right yeah sure so, eleven FS it's a little company we started just. Over three and a half years ago now, it's. Very complicated to try and explain what we do but it's easier to kind of try and explain to you like why I guess ok which, is I mean after working. A big consultancies. And big banks in various different places really. We were just pretty underwhelmed, as a founding, team of the change that we were really seeing in the market we. Talk about digital banking really being one percent finished and that's because really, what we're seeing a people spending billions of pounds trying. To level. Up their aspiration, but without actually delivering, what it is that they want to deliver which. Is kind of why we're in this weird digitized. Banking. Phase a lot, of people sort of say they've got a digital Bank but I really don't we don't know what that is we we haven't really seen that yeah, but fundamentally we're in this period of such. Change. Within the industry that moved, from analog, to digital and, really, into what truly digital acting means and because, of that it's really that that view that with, one percent finished being the the case then the next ninety-nine percent of this journey is going to be really really fascinating so whether, it's building new products for people whether it's building new products, for us whether it's building, brand, new core banking systems then we're, kind of addressing. All of those industry, problems to see, what we can do it fixing it and out, of interest talking about the you know the changes, that are going on within the industry. Who. Do you see in the marketplace that's perhaps doing, doing, a great, job of it and and why they, being so successful I think I mean I think that's really interesting because it's one of those ones where big. Banks would just use to competing with big banks you long period of time so if you were HSBC. You'd look at your tower and look at Barclays, here we're like two away from you two figure out what you needed to do from a product perspective or, from a an, experiential, perspective in terms of what you needed to deliver and, the industry is fundamentally, changed over the last five to six years with really. I think coming out of the UK the competition. Mandate, that's been driven by the regulator's, so all of the work that the FCA and the PRA and the Bank of England have been doing to create. Such a, dynamic. Environment. Here. That competition. Is good for everybody, and because, of that actually what we've seen is whole, new players come to the market people like the Manzo's people, like styling revolute, coming. Into this space and actually. I mean it, sounds obvious when you're saying out loud but like doing, stuff customers, want and sort, of delivering, it at pace, and. I kind of loved the fact that the, competition, for the big banks it's it's not just what they're doing that's important, it's the way in which they're doing it so for, a FinTech, who can go, from a you, know a fantastic, idea to it being executed, to, your big used in you know for 2 million people being, maybe, four weeks you, know a big bank will have to spend possibly, the best part of a year to make that happen and this, is probably, the point that we're at in the cycle right now is the people who look like competition. To the banks in six. Months time will be leading the banks and, if you look at the space that we're in now with wholesale. Resets, of you. Know Net Promoter Score, leaders, you. Know used to be first direct was smashing that every every year, in every study, now. It's a, race. Between moms, Oh installing, and that gap between the, really. Offensive. FinTech. Players and the, banks. Who have been used to playing defense, for such a long period of time is just gonna get bigger and bigger it's a great point you make about the difference between those and as, an example around the community, about scaling, and chain making changes, so I think about my bank being you know NatWest and I'm, not part of a community like, I can go on with Monza or Starling where you know they might implement, that change based on a vote from their their.
Customers, Yeah I mean even though I like how pricing, is done you know like moans oh and before them people like Fedor actually, they, engage, the community so heavily that you, are part of, building, of that products you know this isn't a, product. That somebody delivers, to you that you merely consume, then actually, as a as, a user as a customer, you have an ability, to you. Know share your views and share your displeasure I think, just the whole transparency. In that system in terms of how the product is built and how the products taken to market is just, fundamentally different where, in your office is over in demonstra, Square and I know as part of that we work which is a fantastic, environment here you've got about 120, people and growing quickly. What's. The biggest challenge for you in scaling. The business and attracting, the right people for the for the culture that you're in yeah. I mean the the challenges we've had over the last three, years have been you, know different, and. Three different periods of it you know I should say we're a wholly, owned subsidiary so we wholly, own company so we've not been vc-backed, when, our you know spending, money to get rid of it in that in that sense so the, challenge that we had initially was put, some money in the bank slow. Slightly followed by build, a brand, now. That we've kind of you know three and a half years in the challenge, really is scaling. That the thing that we've done amazingly. Well and. Making sure actually we protect the values. That have made it successful, in the first place. I think, big, organizations. Who have any, element, of success, will. Probably. Rightly so in some instances kind. Of ossify, around that success, and, the thing that I'm spending most of my time on really thinking, about now is I mean, where are we going and are we going fast enough and. Then in terms of the environment. That we create for the, people who work with us then, it's, making, sure actually the that, we allow, people to do the best work that they've ever done we. Really describe our you. Know our vision. Really, is as just, unleashing, talent because, if we can hire the best people and create the, best environment, to actually get the. Most out of those people while, they're with us then, actually that we achieve all of our objectives, the people who work, here do the best work and put the best things on the CV and from our perspective actually, were moving, quicker and doing things faster than anybody's, ever done before so, David what what, does a typical day in the business look like for you today I mean. Typical, businesses a days, are pretty. Atypical, from honest year that's the problem is I. Mean it's the nice thing as well because it stops me getting bored it's. Anything from I mean this weekend, kind of doing various different bits, and bobs today, doing, a, whole heap of either client, meetings to work, through strategy. With those guys to some. Media things with, you and with some other people as well to dealing. With like real problems that we've got that we need to address you need to move forward so I mean the business, is very very varied. You, know the media side of things that we do I see, is a a, nice, dessert, every, so often to sort, of kind. Of keep keep. Those things kind of moving but you, know we've got all. Of the you, know stresses, and strains of earth three and a half year old company I think the difference, is is that we're in a great position because, our. Executive, team are in a spot, where all, of us coming together there's almost nothing that we can't fix you know we've got people who founded moms oh we've got people who you, know our, CTO was prior to this CTO nutmeg but before that Betfair people, like leader glitters, from prior. To this Q and B prior to that sapien you know we've got real heavyweight, people on our, executive. And on our management team who I got, firmly believe there's pretty much nothing we consult so. David who inspires. You who has, inspired you as a leader perhaps and and how have they even been a mentor to you throughout your own journey, if. I'm honest I will sort of say it's it's. Like the. I've. Learned more from band, managers, and bad environments, then I have good managers and great environments, and I, think when you go to a, business. When you you, know younger and you're learning and everything is great it. Really walks your perspective, on actually what companies, are like you.
Know My experience when I was at Eva like it was a fantastic team there was incredibly. Talented people with a really good operating, model and and we got amazing. Things done so quickly, you. Know I can't say that about everywhere at worked and, actually if I'm honest we like the things that I've learnt from bank, managers, who've stuck, with me a lot more than some, of the good ones if I'm honest you. Know definitely in terms of management, bizarrely like my mom and dad taught me a bunch, of things you know like not. If not only. My mum teaching me how to do handshakes properly when I was like eight or. We. Just actually appointed, a chairman. Eleven, offence so go. Call Sean Meadows who's just come in who's. X CEO, of Aviva and, what. Struck me about Sean, actually he, was at Aviva when I was at Aviva was, I mean, the separation, between the two of us was about 10,000 levels at that stage in my. Career in his, but. What struck me was. You. Don't have to be, show. Bad behaviors to be senior, in an organization, you know sure and when I presented to his board and the engagement. That I saw from them is the leader, really sets the tone for and, the behaviors, and the mannerisms and really, what is expected. From everybody, else so. Yeah learning that from him then and now getting, him to work with eleven offences a good, way to go brilliantly, and what we talked about it slightly before the podcast started about employee engagement and what companies, are doing how. Do you keep your employees engaged eleven. FS, I. Mean, again very much learning from what I've seen not. Be done great at other organizations is, you. Know every year you'll, get a leader stand up and talk about all the things that are important, that nobody, can ever remember that. Are meaningless in the role that you're specifically, doing and what, we try and do is my. Background, is is more sports, than it is business really, so. I try and deploy more sports, management. And. Mentality. Into I'll run into. Our organization, that I do business. Practices, so, for, me motivation, and. Direction. And strategy and tactics, if you're playing sports is it's. Not something you do annually. You know pep guardiola does, not set up the tactics once a year and then walk away from it it's every. Game. Every, training session every. Win. Every, loss is. An opportunity, for course. Correction and, refinement. So. Whether it's a meeting, or whether it's a presentation, we do to somebody whether it's a podcast we're doing whether it's a I mean how we all, collectively, talk, about the business in terms of the the narrative, these. Are all opportunities for me to sort, of reinforce why these things work so and. You know the other thing as well is actually I mean doing, things, that people believe in, you. Know a lot of organizations, where you work where you, know you might believe in the company but the company does, the wrong types of work for the wrong types of reasons and. Very much being in a situation where you're you're, choosing, the work and you're able, to choose the work that actually has the most impactful. For. From a societal. Perspective you, know for us it's you. Know working in financial services then, you know payday lenders not high on our agenda of people to work with you. Know people taking financial services, to places that it's never been that's. Very much high on our agenda and if, you kind of look at how the industry is sort of rethinking, with FinTech then most, of the things that are coming to market and being truly successful, now are the ones who are ultimately. Plugging. A gap for the consumer that hasn't been plugged before and. If people can't get excited about that then I don't know what they can what's. The best piece of business advice you ever received I. Mean. I've had I've had lots of people sort of come with you, know lots of lots, of different bits. Of advice and in various different guises, some, of which is great to know to not to do you. Know somebody once said to me think read chat Paul I know, that's always really sort of stuck with me you. Know if actually whether, you're in a big corporate, whether you're in a a. Small. Start-up then you, know aspiring. To greatness in terms of what you what you want to achieve and, then actually, putting in place the tactics, that actually get you there without the, bravado.
Of The big budget, seems. To be working out for us pretty well brilliant, now, how do you help an employee a new employee understand, the culture, of the business in those first first. Few weeks or first few months generally this is this has been a really interesting thing and actually we're in the midst of sort, of evolving. How we do this because I mean when we were five, people sat around a table then like, culture, and values, were something. Instinctive they were something, that actually you needed to think, about and document you, know I'd really questioned, any start up there under, 20, people have to write down what their culture is and what their values is and because. If it's not instinctive. With those first you know 20 people then you've got the wrong 20 people but when you get over 100 people and you're scaling, and you're bringing more and more people into the organization then, I mean really defining. Not. Only what you stand for whether when it comes to your your values, but fundamentally. What is the vision of the company where are you going you, know what is the mission how are you actually going to make that happen and, then looking for opportunities, to really sort of reinforce that so for, us the the values that we've we've set out, how. Do we reinforce, them in the way in which managers, are having conversation, with people how do we we use a tool called 15-5. Which actually allows us to to. Sort of tap into a kind, of a pulse check of the business on a weekly basis and and actually the ways, in which people say thank you to other people for good, work that they've done through, high fives through things like 15-5, then starting, to align, those to the values of the organization. Anytime, any of the executives are standing up in front of anybody we're doing it with that framework in mind and. Even down to if I'm honest you like the values that we have you. Know things like passion, things like positivity turn. In to very quickly stickers. And t-shirts and, all these diverse things which actually when people buy into the, values when they buy into the company, things.
That They're proud, to wear and. That's you. Know for us it's almost using, to the point of virality earlier, on for customers. You have to work as hard to make sure that your your. Employees, were believe in the thing that you're doing is, you do your end consumers, because. They're going to be the people who are ultimately. Are going to be dealing, with those customers, your end customers, on. A day-to-day basis, and. I've worked in a few organizations, where I didn't quite believe in the product and if you don't believe in the product you're never going to be able to get other people to believe now, we we, touched on it a little bit earlier and I just like to talk about how you see the industry changing, in the next five years but I'm walking, not just from a customer. Or the end customer point of view how, are you even you see the change in in the what, I'd say the traditional consulting, route where, companies. Support. Those organizations how. Do you see those two bits changing, in the next few years yeah, I mean, I see the I. See the the, industry, more broadly and, becoming. More competitive by, those if you kind of think the from an end consumers, perspective in the whether, its retail whether it's you know the Como banking sense we've just seen the. RBS remedies part Paul, I think it's 860. Million pounds of funding into the industry in the UK we're. Seeing wealth management players come into the space people, like free trade in the the, investment side of things kind of coming in and getting stronger, we've got Robin Hood coming in from the US so. I mean the FinTech space, is getting more. Competitive, than, than ever I. Think, the big banks are kind of waking up to these problems so you know we've done work with people. Like NatWest in the UK to build out new banks, internally, and the, reason for that is not just so, they've got another. Brand in the game but, fundamentally, to change, the culture in those organizations, and change, the aspirations, that they've got from a technological perspective because, there, is no reason, why I mean, in any fight I will always back the people who've got the most amount of customers and the most amount of money to invest it's just whether they've got the ability to actually you, know get, it together quick, enough that actually they don't lose so many customers, that they they, lose. Their unassailable. Lead that they currently have because. While people like moms oh people like styling are super. Super impressive I'm more, impressed on how, they do it than what they've done so far you know if they can get up to a scale where they're truly challenging, HSBC, or Barclays, or or or, NatWest, then, actually the game changes quite dramatically I think, from our people, that are working with them to solve it I think. This is the biggest problem that if you're at an essential. If you're a McKinsey if you're a Bain or a BCG, like, the problem is is that people. Who have tried, that route, and many, times before, but. It's that definition of insanity you know you just do the same thing over and over and again and hope you're going to get a different outcome, whereas. Actually the, the fundamental, traits of what, digital actually, is kind. Of breaks those models quite dramatically because digital. Is a I, mean it's a small team sport this isn't about having a thousand. People to you, know take take. The hill this, is about having the small. Highly. Trained highly motivated highly. Talented team, of people who, will, go and make that happen it's moving, from that.
Big, Armies, to Special Forces and. The difficult. Thing I think for some of those traditional players in that space is there, a it requires, such an amazing, amount of the honesty, and an authenticity. To come, through to actually say to people that the, ways that you've got successful, in the first place I'm not going to get you to success in the future and. Then the second thing is it fundamentally breaks their business models because if you, were incentivized, through time and materials, and suddenly, you can't sell time and you can't sell many materials, because it's just real team sport then, it it's, a business model that actually you'll try and perpetuate. For as long as you can, big. Consultancies. Are in the same sport that big banks are they're defending. Revenue. Models that, don't exist anymore, but, are just too hard to get out of that you know it's the hardest, drug to always get off is your business model mmm. It's interesting in you know the old analogy. About you know you won't get fired for hire and going with IBM how. Does that CEO, of that organization, make. That decision to, not, stay with that old guard model, and to, embrace a new way of working had, it happened what, would you say about that I mean uh you know IBM specifically. I think I actually used, that nobody, gets fired for our IBM thing presenting, at an IBM conference, recently, actually and. You. Know that, model, is changing so dramatically because people. Are not buying into companies because they believe. That their grand scheme will probably, have picked out the five percent of people they're, looking for the people who have actually delivered this stuff before so, you, know really a big part of what we do is de-risking. Innovative. Processes, by, putting, in place the guy who did mom's Oh or the guy who did nutmeg or whoever, - to actually show them they're. Big. Organizations. Can you address things in the way that startups, do which, means really. If I'm honestly the only sustainable advantage, that big organizations, have is agility. You. Know it comes back to evolution. Right you know evolution is not for every, species but the ones who get it usually, like survive and. The big banks really have to get on that which is if they, can continually, be. Truly. Agile, and by that I don't mean you, know post-it, notes and bean bags around their office but the, ability to really understand, what the consumer, wants and react to it or, even be proactive. To get ahead of it when it comes to regulatory, changes, or technological. Changes that allow them to unlock. Potential and create services, that they've never done before then, this is where their unique advantage, comes from you, can't, just create a big, moat around your, customer, base and expect, them to stay, because. Of that at this age you know the I sort. Of joked about the difference between choice, and competition you. Know customers, have been used. To having choice it, was the choice between a red one or a blue or a green one fundamentally. There were the same things now they actually have competition. Which means the. Things that revolute, are doing the things that stalling and doing the things that monza were doing are actually creating, value for, consumers they're. Making them spend less money they're, making them save, better they're making them earn more when they're saving you know all of these things are. Services. It's just ironic that, we've been conditioned, for the last decades. To, expect. Bad service, from banks because fundamentally. They forgot, they were financial, services, you know it's, in the name you know if it was financial, services, we'd be actually, getting a service what, we're really getting is just products, what's, interesting talking. About that stuff when you've got a big company, like one of the big traditional, banks they might need to implement a new system you, know that hundreds, of millions. Of dollars or pounds you. Know that might be working one of those big big. Consultancy. Partners they've got offshore teams in India. Or near, shore across Europe they, might not be working in an agile way the, team's might be got big challenges, and by the time they've implemented the system it's out of date anyway so I mean, if you if you're developers, are a 12. Hour flight away and, you're claiming you do agile like. You don't know what it means I you know I really think there's an interesting. Point here where I think bags of banks have almost, just got too, big to, really be successful in the way that they need to but, they've also got too many customers and too much investment to really write them off, so.
If You kind of look at the players who have started. To get this that actually you, know is it is it quicker for us to start, something new and scale it than it is to fit. What we've got because. You, know you were being kind when you said hundreds of millions like these guys are spending, multiple. Billions, a year just. To keep their lights on you know this is the op X for every Tier one bank is at least two point something billion a year and, actually, the problem that they've got is the way that they spend their capex, is actually just layering on more op X cost so that two billion this year will be 2.2, billion next year and 2.4, billion in the net the year after and if you're a I mean if you're a CEO of a big bank right now that's. The thing that's kind of keeping you up at night is actually. You, can keep spending hundred millions of pounds each year trying. To do innovative things in beautiful-looking. Innovation, spaces but, unless it's materially, changing your operating cost and your operating rhythm and delivering, value to consumers then. Actually. You're spending. Your cash reserves in a way that actually makes your bank unsustainable. Because, if you're a you know you're a fin tech player who can run a current account four to, three pounds as. Opposed to a big high street bank where it costs 250, pounds then I mean you've, got a lot of money and you can sustain that winter, for a long time but, it's a slow death you, know a very very slow one and actually I guess you. Know I think it's a andreessen, horowitz quote around you, know can, start. Up to get scale before incumbents. Get innovation, and we're. Seeing that play out in such a beautiful way right now that I mean I'm just glad I do this stuff now like 10. Years ago banking, must have been really boring about you. Know checks, and stuff coming in but you, know we're very lucky to be working in this industry today now you mentioned, a bit earlier a great thing that your your, mum taught you about shake shaking, a hand properly when you were young is, there it is there as gold by the way we, have to thank her for that that, is there a um is there a practice story from your childhood that you could share with us those, influenced. Your work ethic in later life. So. I think there's a real a real interesting thing like my. Weaboos. Arlene me and Jason were talking about this Jason was one of the one, of the cofounders of 11 FS and he he, was actually one of the cofounders of mom so as well so, I spent a lot of time there we both were sort of saying talking about this actually after, one of the 11 FS is Town Hall's last, week. And do. You want I think the thing that made me. Go. Out I wasn't great at working hard if I'm honest yeah I was a sports, guy and actually. So like running and throwing and jumping and stuff was my thing and. You know doing sports science, I was you know gonna be a I, was playing basketball actively, at the time, unfortunately.
Having. Torn three ligaments in my left knee and having to get a proper job the. Reality, of like actual, work. And impact. Because I was naturally very good at sports I could. Do that really without, the. Same level, of effort but. Also it, was easy to me therefore my, motivation, was easy to do it you. Know if you can do, something first try or within a few tries then, your rewards. Mechanism, is is very very different you know taking that from from. Sports into, war and now I'm doing maths. And computing, and you, know business. To. Work, those things out it only, should have occurred to me bizarrely. You know I remember this really vividly of kind of coming out of my, undergrad. Degree in computing, with a 2:1 and being. Happy. For about five seconds, and then realizing. That about 5,000, other people were standing in and, around me who had either better or the same thing and for, somebody who really. Sort of prided, himself on. Individuality. To. Suddenly, feel like a turtle on the beach was real problem to me and. Actually like the it sounds stupid but like at that point realizing. They're actually. You. Know work ethic can overcome. Average intelligence, is. Like a real thing so being in a situation where you, work harder than anybody else that's around you to do something, and that's not long, hours, and working weekends. That's like working, smart in terms of what you what you're saying out to achieve, so. Familiar that's, all I've literally done since then is you, know went, into my masters to work harder than everybody else dude's got a 87%. Eighty-eight, percent average, and. Then I've just continued, that all the way through through, my life I think the other thing my. That. My both my parents trying to drill out of me, was asking, why because, it's really annoying as a kid but it's really really effective when you're an adult you. Know continually, trying to understand, the process and understand, why, something is the way that it is actually, makes you that, sort of inquisitive, nature makes.
You Really understand why something is in the way it is and most people just accept things, in the way that they are but, if you really want to change the, thing that you, do whether it's banking. Infrastructure, whether it's global, financial services whether it's how the regulator, works you, have to start with why is it done in the way that it is I love that now, final, question for you David if you could if you could go back to your early. 20s, you. Could give yourself one piece of advice on reflection. Now what, would you say to yourself. So. Fine if I could go back I'd go back earlier, than early twenties so I mean, three. Ligaments went in my knee when I was 19, so, if I could go back like, it maybe a year before then I tell myself not to push myself so hard playing basketball that would be great I think the other thing as well is that you. Know I unfortunately. Lost my dad when I was 19 as well so. If I can go back to 18, that would be great because I think when you're working. So hard and you're pushing yourself so hard, realizing. To you, know really. Enjoy. Every moment because you never know when it will be gone you. Know from the point where my ligaments went I've never felt comfortable to, play. Sport in the same way as I did before and I'd. Love some more moments with my dad as well appreciate. That David thanks so much for sharing this with us today if, people want to find out more about you, want, to find get in touch with eleven, FS how do they do it yeah, you can find me on twitter, at david, brin or if you want to find out more about the company and go over to. WL. M FS com, David thanks your time. We. Really hope you enjoyed our podcast, if you're listening to this on iTunes please, take a moment to give us a review four, stars would be good but five stars would be amazed.