This week I am joined again by Privalgo’s forward thinking CEO, Dan Biggs. Gaining insight into how he has led Privalgo through these turbulent times and how this has affected him personally. With Dan’s 16 years in the industry it would be fair to say that until now, he had seen it all.
Joining Dan virtually at his home in Essex, we peel back the layers of the true effects of COVID.
How are you finding being at home?
I really enjoy interaction between my peers, and I miss that. I enjoy working from home when I have something to concentrate on. I find the way your day can evolve during lockdown a little frustrating; jumping from one video call to the next and making sure that every conversation has a constructive conclusion can be tough. Lacking control of your environment is difficult especially as I enjoy getting out and seeing the world.
How is your mental health?
I’m very well thank you. Without question there are a few things that I’m missing, however with a young family and a new business to concentrate on I focus my energy on keeping a growth mindset.
Can you understand why some people may not feel quite so positive?
Absolutely. The influence of COVID on all our lives extends far beyond what is been reported, determining the full impact of what is happening will only be understood in time. Everybody is having their own experience of this new way of life and that will be deeply personal. I believe that this experience has certainly amplified our thoughts, feelings and views and I only hope that as time goes by society learns to take something from this joint experience and that it can be a catalyst for change.
With the current situation magnifying the issues around mental health do you think Privalgo does enough for your employee’s mental wellbeing?
That’s a really hard question to answer. I would like to think that everybody in the company understands that they can talk and express how they are feeling. I find the company sentiment extremely positive, not to say that there aren’t challenges and individual perceptions don’t differ. From a working perspective I’m a believer that issues should be laid bare, once they have been, the business/individual/s can be constructive about the next steps without building a negative spiral. In most instances’ positives come from facing what is getting to you.
As for an individual’s circumstance, I appreciate that wellbeing has many personal connotations, so it is key to learn to find happiness and meaning out of your situation. Even going as far as understanding your motivations can be a great anchor to identifying why your outlook is what it is. Much more can be done to promote mental resilience and give people more tools for dealing with a negative mindset.
As a fledgling business I understand it must be hard to offer mental health support for your employees.
The team’s wellbeing is definitely a priority. Sometimes, people just get down, for a number of different reasons and we deal with that on demand. Getting down or feeling low, is not necessarily a mental health issue, it’s a fact of life. I think that if you have the ability to understand how you feel then you are afforded the opportunity to deal with it. If you are angry, try and deal with what is making you angry. If you are worried, try and address what is worrying you. We are here to help our people and If I thought that something was obviously wrong then I would certainly make a point of dealing with it. It’s not hard to support people, it’s our responsibility.
Do you have enough people to deal with these issues?
We actually have a great cross section of personalities between the directors and the management team. I think people naturally gravitate towards people that they can relate to. That variety of personalities is a definite asset to the company. Generally speaking, we are very open with each other, but we do have a dedicated HR team to deal with any issues and offer support should anything serious arise.
How are you juggling work and home?
With my children back at school it has been far easier to concentrate when working from home. Throughout the lockdown I have made an effort to distinguish as much as possible when my working day has come to an end. It can be difficult sometimes but for our family life, it is important to come away from the work and enjoy being together. What I have noticed is, as somebody that has had a reasonable commute to work for most of their professional life, I now recognise that the commute was in some ways valuable time to decompress. I am certainly not saying I miss the daily train grind, maybe just finding a way to bookend your day is harder to observe when commuting equates to walking downstairs. Personally, the more structure I can get into my day the better, I am confident this will become easier as lockdown measures ease.
Do you think this whole situation has made you more understanding towards staff with family?
I have always been understanding towards people’s family, what is the point in doing what we do if it’s not for our families? I like the inclusion; we all have a home life and those things are good to share, it always makes me smile when someone’s kids jump into a video call or before lockdown visiting the office. When we first started the business the decision to provide a significant degree of working flexibility was to support those with young families without having to choose between career or family. A decision we have never regretted.
How do you handle the work life balance?
This will always be a work in progress as I like for us to be taking more and more on at present. I enjoy working hard and when I have purpose, I am very driven which can be sometimes detrimental to turning off. The meaningful days where we achieve something the really furthers the business makes me very happy. Hard work which achievement creates a positive mood and we celebrate the efforts of our labour which in turn motivates us forward.
When I’m away from work or it’s the weekend I make an effort to remove myself from devices and focus on being in the here and now. The way the communications come into your life now can he highly disruptive so it essential for me to have a method of unplugging which is normally turn it off or put it in a draw.
What is the main focus of 2021?
We started the business with a very specific three-year business plan. We are busy delivering exactly that, all the adapting we have had to do in 2020 still hasn’t deterred us from or delayed our plan. We have several exciting developments planned for 2021 which will support the growth of Privalgo and deliver us much more scale. We remain mindful of the potential of further disruption but remain confident of achieving our business objectives.
Have you had to extend any of your business plan timelines?
No, no delay. Our market is huge, and we represent only a small contribution. The pandemic will not prevent Privalgo from delighting clients, driving innovation and acquiring market share. Is that going to be as easy? Definitely not. Is it achievable? 100%
Talent from availability, is there opportunity with the current employment situation?
There has been a lot of redundancy in the sector, I actually think that talent will be harder to access because you have to successfully filter the candidates, you have a limited market and that’s difficult. How does someone stand out in what is a busy crowd?
Is Privalgo going to recruit more people?
We are going to stick to our plan. We have some new joiners in January 2021 and in line with our growth, there will be additional recruits throughout the year.
How is the fintech space generally?
From what I hear, it’s buoyant although I can see the sector is going through a period of evolution. I think that the Open Banking initiative is starting to deliver real innovation in the financial sector and a richer client experience will be achieved because of it. Unfortunately, many of these companies fail to achieve profitability so there may come a strain for these firms if capital dries up.
The foreign exchange sector must have had some impact from the downturn due to COVID. How has Privalgo continued to grow?
Yes; we are forecasted to achieve 115% of our second-year budget. We have been successful at acquiring clients and some fantastic partners regardless of these circumstances. We are very grateful to all those partners and clients that have chosen to work with Privalgo. Our partners particularly have invested in our relationship during a period of downturn and we have been able to be successful together and support each other’s businesses when for some of them it has been the hardest of times. This gives us great encouragement for the future as we build loyalty and retention and as their markets begin to return, we should enjoy even more successes together whilst still maintaining a mantra of mutual benefit.
Privalgo is a company that is dedicated to making a difference in a static industry. They are innovating through technology and evolving through service. After spending my second session with Dan I can see that the business is merely an extension of his family and his commitment to the company community and growth is inspiring.
If you would like to understand how Privalgo’s services could help your Business or simple assist in a foreign exchange transfer, please follow the link below or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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