Disruption Through Diversity and Empowerment

Accuity values diversity. It brings new ideas, fosters a culture of innovation, and helps us to understand different perspectives so that we can serve the industry better. To celebrate the power of diversity, this blog series explores what diversity and empowerment means to our employees. Kicking off the series, Neela Das, Head of Innovation, offers her thoughts on working in a disruptive industry.

Neela DasIt’s easy to take for granted the benefits of being a multicultural and diverse organisation. Stopping to reflect, it’s clear that Accuity unearths these strengths and fosters a culture of empowerment.

Serving financial services and corporate customers around the world, it’s amazing when I walk through our London office to hear how many different languages are spoken. When you then include our teams across the globe, it’s energising to work with people from different professional and ethnic backgrounds and be able to draw on this rich experience to grow the business. It’s also great to see so many female colleagues working in FinTech.

When I first came to Accuity in 2016, I brought 16 years of experience working in disrupted industries. That meant coping with market changes, listening to customer needs, helping businesses evolve and making sure that we were constantly innovating.

My experience was not in Financial Services, but because I had that core skill set and the ability to look at changing landscapes and customer needs, there was real confidence that I could thrive in my role. I felt empowered from day one.

New Market, No Problem

Even though this was a new market for me, people gave me their time. They took me to events and gave me exposure to customers. This helped me get to the crux of the things that matter most. When you’re working in a disruptive industry, you need to be able to look beyond the hype and assess what the changes in landscape – whether technological or regulatory – really mean for customers.

Today, my global team evaluates new technologies that can be integrated into our solutions to help our customers. We ask ourselves, “Can we build it? Can our customers use it? And most importantly, will it provide enough value that they’ll buy it?” By exploring new technologies including blockchain, AI techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing, we can create new innovative financial crime compliance solutions, for example, that are tailored to meet the specific challenges our customers face.

The intersection of these new technologies with the financial services industry is exciting. Personally, I think Accuity is the most exciting business in the RELX Group. One colleague described it to me as the Champions League and I have to agree!

The interesting work we do at Accuity was best brought to life by a banking customer from Afghanistan. At a conference he told the story of how de-risking had cut the bank off from the financial system. Our sanctions screening solution helped the bank improve its compliance standards so it could connect with the outside world. It’s fantastic that the work we do allows people to be included – safely and securely – within the global markets.

Advice for Women in Fintech

There is greater awareness now of the double standards that many women working in technology face. For example, there have been many cases in which the same code posted to GitHub receives very different levels of critique if it is posted by a woman as opposed to a man.

Secondly, we are also seeing greater awareness of the gender pay gap. There are so many reasons for this, which I won’t begin to analyse here; however, having managed both men and women for a number of years, I do have one observation: women often undervalue their own contribution.

I have been lucky to have been supported by some wonderful role models of both genders and I think it’s important to carry this on. One of things I say most often over informal cups of coffee with colleagues is “Be bold. You have earned it. More importantly, if you don’t value yourself, how can you demonstrate it to others? There is no harm in asking.”

There are signs of things changing, but there is much more to be done to attract more women into the fintech field.

Strength from Diversity

Time and effort go into creating a culture of empowerment for people of all backgrounds and different genders. I’m happy that Accuity makes this a priority. If we continue to listen, talk openly about issues, and not lose focus of our values, we can draw strength from our diverse pool of talent and cultivate new ideas that transform the financial services industry.