Matt Hyde, Director of FinTech Awards Wales Meets:
Managing Director of Sonovate.
As part of a our new interview series, Matt Hyde, Director of Recruit121 and FinTech Awards Wales, talks to a whole host of professionals in and around Wales’ thriving FinTech Sector. This week Matt caught up with Damon Chapple at Sonovate.
Tell us about your main focus at Sonovate
Sonovate, is a leading provider of embedded finance and payment solutions for the contingent workforce. The company was founded as an alternative to traditional invoice finance products that are provided by traditional funders and the main banks. We provide tech-driven finance and workflow solutions to recruitment agencies, online freelance marketplaces, consultancies, and other businesses of all sizes that work with contractors and freelancers. Almost a decade on, Sonovate is now one of the fastest growing businesses in the UK.
We believe the future of work is the ability to work anywhere, and in the way you want. Our mission is to help individuals to work independently, and businesses of all kinds – from recruiters and consultants to tech-driven freelance marketplaces – to get easy funding and cash flow to scale and grow.
What impact do you feel FinTech Awards Wales are making in the FinTech sector in Wales?
The awards go a long way in raising awareness about the fact that there is a healthy and growing fintech industry in Wales. Such awards and programmes help gain visibility for companies like us who are headquartered in Wales. Very importantly, they also send a strong signal to Welsh talent, showing them that there are lots of opportunities right here locally. As an employer, this is vital to us. At a time where talent is hard to come by, particularly tech talent, such programmes encourage young people and workers in Wales to go into the technology sector. This means that we can have a wider talent pool to recruit from. We take part in many recruitment activities in Wales, such as the Cardiff careers fair which is coming up this month (August 2022).
Why have you chosen to support the Awards and in particular the Best Place to Work Award?
Both co-founders of Sonovate come from a background in recruitment. Most of our customers are also recruiters. Therefore we are very well placed to understand the importance of good employment practices and a thriving company culture to attract and retain the best talent. In today’s world, employees look beyond the pay cheque and the job title. The Great Resignation has highlighted the need for traditional employment to evolve. For example, young people today look at a company’s purpose as much as anything else when deciding to accept job offers. In addition to that, flexible working is here to stay and companies have to embrace it. At Sonovate, we took a consultative approach with our employees, asking each team to discuss what arrangement works best for them; when people want to work from the office and when they’d rather work from home. As a result, employees have felt bought into the process and have setup the working pattern that best suits them. This took into consideration their own work preferences, but also what is best for their teams and those that they interact with across the organisation. We’ve adapted our policies accordingly to promote employee wellbeing and retention. We’re not alone in that, our research shows that over 66% of businesses are finding that young people aged 18-30 have a strong desire to work flexibly – suggesting this trend is one that will only continue to grow as more younger people enter the workforce. The Best Place to Work award is an example of how companies can be encouraged to understand their employees’ needs more deeply and finetune their policies.
What is Sonovate doing today to support the FinTech in the future?
Our biggest contribution is perhaps that we have established a model where financial technology helps particular sectors, in our case, the contingent workforce, to go beyond what traditional finance has been able to offer them and get tailored solutions to grow and thrive.
Another key point for us, where fintech is concerned, is to really take part in the industry ecosystem. In today’s marketplace, partnerships and collaboration are key. The formula here is openness, and the ability to leverage open finance and initiatives such as Open Banking to integrate our own platforms into collaborative solutions. This is a really important concept – one that has been around for decades with different technological approaches – because it means that open systems (from multiple vendors) can be brought together in flexible arrangements to offer greater value to the end user. Contrast this with single-vendor closed systems that have limited flexibility and are rarely able to offer everything that the customer needs in one solution. We provide embedded finance and payment solutions. “Embedding” is simply the process of integrating third-party technologies within another technology. Whilst a fintech like Sonovate can embed banking or payment or regulatory technologies into our products, we also extend and specialise them for the recruitment and workforce supply chain industries. In turn, our funding services will be offered as APIs for embedding into partner products, in addition to being made available as web applications. Embedding finance like this means that financial services are happening in the most low-friction way in real-world operations, such as workers getting paid on time, or a business having a HMRC return filed automatically and the tax bill paid from reserved funds.
Finally what’s the best advice you were given and what advice you would give?
The best advice I have been given on both a personal and professional level, is to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. This has always resonated with me, and I feel plays a huge part in my interactions with the team at Sonovate and how we have built our culture. To build a great business, it’s no lie that it takes a lot of hard work, but if you have the right team around you, it makes it a lot easier! So it’s important to look after your team, treat them with respect and provide them with the right work environment to enable them to thrive and develop.