Launch list, best private sector team – Funding Circle

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In the latest issue of 20, we’ve saluted accounting firms that have shown a forward looking attitude to the evolving world of work, check out our Launch list of best private sector firms below. 

1. Funding Circle

London-based peer-to-peer lender offers office buzz and feelgood factor. Employees get the buzz of working in a fast-paced environment, using cutting-edge tech; lunchtime table tennis sessions; learning new skills through the FC Academy, and the feelgood factor that comes with helping small business grow.

James Meekings, UK managing director and co-founder, Funding Circle, says: “People like the fact that Funding Circle has always been passionate about building a 21st-century company. When I give an induction for new staff, I say we’re all going to spend a lot of time in the office, so we may as well enjoy the time we have together.” 

Is that why you’ve got table tennis and other fun activities? 

JAMES: Yes, we have table tennis, pool tables, free breakfasts and nice coffee, which is also free. But I think people like working here because we’re a mission-led business trying to fix a broken financial system. 

Does helping small companies grow give staff more sense of satisfaction? 

JAMES: Yes. Our employees can go out and visit small businesses and see how they operate. It’s magical when you see how we’ve helped them grow. We recently worked with a ‘Canine Creche’ – a hotel for dogs. That market is booming. Some of our customers are microbreweries. Our staff love it when they visit on Fridays to give free beer tastings. 

What do the finance team enjoy about working there? 

JAMES: We’ve got 46 finance employees worldwide. When you ask them what they like about Funding Circle, they’ll probably talk about the lack of hierarchy. There are no offices, so if somebody wants to ask our chief financial officer a question at his desk, they can. They feel they can contribute more than at other companies, where they [worked in silos] and didn’t have access to the senior team as much. 

What do you look for in new staff? 

JAMES: One of our values is ‘live the adventure’. We want people who are passionate and can share that passion around the business. As for nurturing talent, we have the FC Academy. It’s a programme where any member of staff can give a course. This could be, ‘How to Handle Yourself In A Difficult Situation’, ‘How To Give Feedback’ or even lessons in photography. We’ve also got ‘Bright Ideas Days’, where people can take a day off to work on something they feel is additive to the business. You could be working in the finance team, but if you’ve got an idea that could help marketing, you can take a day off – with your manager’s permission – and develop it. 

Any messages for AAT students? 

JAMES: If people want to work in a fun, energetic environment, they should come and work for us. 

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2. Hays Travel

The videos on the careers section of Hays Travel’s website feature staff talking about the foreign travel they’ve done while working for the UK’s largest indie travel agency. There are other selling-points, too: a “family-like” ambience at its Sunderland head office, steady career progression and homeworking opportunities. 
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3. Unilever

The top-drawer finance team at Unilever assists the maker of such household names as Marmite, Dove soap and Lynx toiletries. The company has a big focus on long-term goals, and on cultivating the right staff. “We continue to create a working culture that embraces diversity, inclusion and wellbeing, as well as offering a range of development and training opportunities across all levels of our workforce,” says Paul Fenwick, finance vice-president for Unilever UK and Ireland. 

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4. Odeon Cinema

The cinema chain earns kudos thanks to its generous bonus scheme, flexible working and random incentivising rewards such as handing out on-the-spot scratchcards. As it’s the UK’s biggest cinema chain, Odeon’s London-based staff can also watch all the the free films they desire – outside working hours, obviously. 

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5. Ella’s Kitchen

Ella’s Kitchen is as family friendly as you’d expect from a children’s food company. Based in primary-coloured barns in Oxfordshire, the firm offers perks including a ‘Growing Superbuddies’ training course, free breakfasts and twice-yearly pamper days. Founded by an ex-accountant, the finance team is an important part of the organisation, too. 

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Christian Koch is an award-winning journalist/editor who has written for the Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph, The Independent, Q, The Face and Metro. He's also written about business for Accounting Technician, 20 and Director, where he is contributing editor.

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