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Today, we celebrate women internationally, but one Australian start-up is ensuring that change and opportunity are not exclusively reserved for one day a year.
In 2019, women are graduating from university at higher rates than men, and make up nearly half of the general workforce. But it’s also true that women are still a long way from being equally represented on the way to and in the C-suite.
Two years ago in the US, for example, only 22% of board directors among the S&P 500 public companies were women, up just 1% from the previous year, while another study reported a paltry 7% serving as CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies. Today’s enterprise leaders talk about the importance of advancing women in business, and society, but talk is cheap. Concrete action is needed to level the gender playing field.
SaaS provider, Practifi, already has a few feathers in its cap—not least a rapid expansion into the US market, and being heralded among the most impressive demonstrations at the recent InVest West seminar in San Francisco.
But what makes this fast-moving fintech with big ideas really stand out from the crowd—especially in the traditionally male-dominated fintech and financial services industries—is the fact that they’ve already assembled a staff roster comprised of nearly 50% women.
Let’s take it from the top—embracing diversity
Founders Glenn Elliott and Adrian Johnstone are of the belief that it’s important to have a well-balanced company culture, one which embraces diversity and inclusion, but never for the sake of reputation or publicity.
Represented by more than ten countries, over 50% of the team is also made up of talents from across the world.
“We definitely look for individuals who will fit into our company culture, which we want to preserve, and we take this very seriously as we continue to grow,” says Adrian Johnstone.
Empower your staff and watch the magic happen
Scarlett Soe, one of the first women to join the team back in 2015, has seen the company grow into what it is today.
“I started as a developer and have seen the team grow exponentially. Seeing women come into various leadership positions in the company has been very encouraging. The learning opportunities available give me the confidence and enthusiasm to grow my career successfully.”
Having recently hired more women into Practifi, the company has enjoyed a substantial amount of positive change, with a noticeable uplift in company culture and stronger, more efficient working dynamics.
Lindsey Hanson, Head of Customer Success, feels that Practifi’s approach to gender diversity is refreshing.
“I think all layers of management at Practifi are invested in the success and achievement of their team. For most of management, their team is equally split between women and men,” she says.
“We have female leaders at every level of management from the C-suite to team leads. I’ve been at companies where it’s hard to find your voice as a female in leadership, so starting in a position where you see inclusivity and diversity is really empowering.”
COO Emily Wilcox agrees. “Everyone in the team at Practifi is looked upon equally.
“Glenn and Adrian are both absolutely terrific operators, and actively spend the time making sure that all employees are seeing value in what they do. We all feel the wealth of their influence.”
Nina Tan, who forms part of Practifi’s customer success team, notes that the number of women at Practifi sets it apart from others in the tech space.
“In the tech industry, I feel there’s a impression of it being a ‘man’s world’. But in Practifi, it’s not. The culture is that everyone’s voice gets heard. If you work hard and are good at your job, you get the recognition you deserve.”
It’s as easy as A-B-C-suite
The company is emerging as one which affords all its staff the chance to grow as the company does. This is especially the case with Emily, who joined the company when they were just four people dreaming the veritable dream. She became the company’s COO at 27 and has made something of a name for herself in the process.
“By virtue of my early start with the company, I have been afforded immense trust and opportunity to forge my role and feel the value I provide. I have grown up with Practifi. It feels like we’re intertwined!”
It’s a sentiment shared by Lindsey, who sees the intertwined levels of support and encouragement at the company as being part of its, and—vicariously—her success.
“I’m at a point in my career where I’m confident in my experience and ability, but it’s still hard work to hire the best people, keep this amazing culture thriving, scale effectively and get the right processes and procedures in place, without slowing down the incredible pace at which we’re moving,” she reflects.
It is just this idea of culture, a real and profound team spirit, which Emily believes is the glue that holds the whole operation together, and what simultaneously sets the company apart in a hugely competitive space.
“Unequivocally, it’s the team,” she says. “We are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated team, all working towards the same goal. Everyone is invested in the outcome and, most importantly, invested in each other’s success.”
Emily finds it extremely rare to come across a team which is as willing and able to get their hands dirty and to trust each other to such a degree.
So, while Practifi leads the way in the fintech SaaS space helping advisors align the tools they need to grow, it is perhaps this less heralded, but significant cultural gap they’re bridging as well that makes them unique.
Call it gendered innovation.
Practifi ensures financial advice firms can realise their full growth potential while revolutionising financial services technology the world over. As a cloud-based business management platform, Practifi manages clients, partners, providers and centres-of-influence through a clean, intuitive interface. It’s the new benchmark for CRM-based systems in financial advice. With offices in Sydney and Chicago, and loyal clients across APAC, Europe and North America, Practifi is passionate about partnering with advisors, providing the tools required to lead the financial advisory firm of the future.