Our CEO Julia Streets reflects on 15 years of Streets Consulting’s history
It’s become something of a truism that the most exciting firms are founded during the trickiest of economic times. Maybe it provides some comfort when we look at a landscape of tumbling markets and cutbacks that somewhere, someone is working away in a bedroom laying the foundations of the next industry-defining titan.
As we look back on 15 years of Streets Consulting’s history, we couldn’t possibly claim to be a firm of that magnitude, but, formed in 2007 as the first tremors of a financial earthquake rippled through the sector, we are incredibly proud to have worked with firms that have breathed imagination and innovation into the financial services sector. In so many ways it feels this is an industry that is working hard to put people, utility and purpose back at its heart.
While we couldn’t have predicted exactly how the industry around us would grow over the past decade and a half, we feel proud and privileged that innovators from startups to scaleups to global organisations have trusted Streets Consulting to help them grow, and that we have played our small part in helping the industry evolve along the way.
Out of a crisis
I’ve always loved the role and potential of technology in financial services. Having been a head of e-commerce during the dotcom boom, worked at the global agency brokerage firm Instinet, and served on the Executive Committee of Atos Euronext Market Solutions, I’ve always had an international point of view, consider myself an international citizen and regard technology as a great cross-border enabler.
Ever curious about the latest technologies and their applications, as a company we have always defined ourselves by our eagerness to learn, experience and to throw ourselves onto the stage, rather than simply clap along in the audience. Perhaps this is symptomatic of my former path as a sell-out stand up comedian and today as a professional host/MC, however it’s a philosophy that I believe has helped us integrate ourselves with our clients. It serves us well as we strive to stretch ourselves to learn about enterprise-grade technologies, data, analytics, artificial intelligence and many other emerging technologies. It informs the client campaigns we create across the whole gamut of consultancy, business development, marketing, and communications and right across the fintech industry.
When I cast my mind back to the aftermath of the financial crisis as a new world emerged, I believe it was that willingness to learn, push our thinking and absorb information that helped us navigate the wave of regulatory change throughout the industry. I don’t think it’s any surprise that many of our clients fully embrace the regtech moniker. Regulatory change has presented opportunities for innovators to drive greater efficiencies, transparency and accountability throughout the industry, not to mention tackle the relentless march of financial crime and cybersecurity breaches.
And it has been an honour to have been trusted by firms to help them manage their reputations, play a key part in driving, if not supporting their growth and helping them build their profiles as they have leant in, responded to change, uncovered and taken commercial advantage of the opportunities on offer.
Shaping the conversation
I have always believed that the best consultancies don’t grab onto the coat-tails of a conversation, they help shape it.
That belief is what has motivated us to not sit on the sidelines, but champion everything from the push towards diversity and inclusion in financial services, the regional growth of the UK’s fintech industry, and the shift to focus on the environment and the wider sustainability and ESG agenda. What’s more, we partner with and support stakeholder organisations such as Innovate Finance and the Investment Association, championing their mission to help fintech firms grow.
Beyond our work with our clients, some of the work I am most proud of over the past 15 years has been in initiatives like the DiverCity Podcast recognised as one of the world’s leading diversity, equity and inclusion podcasts. We have hosted some of the most exciting thinkers on forging workplaces that appreciate the nuances of contemporary working life, create highly productive and inclusive corporate cultures and focus on attracting, retaining and inspiring diverse talent.
When I set up the business as an entirely virtual business model, I bore a fair share of heckles for rejecting the office and embracing the flexibility of an entirely remote workforce. But as the industry has been shaken by the tectonic shifts of Brexit and the pandemic, that approach has helped us embrace both talent and clients that 9-to-5 presenteeism-obsessed structures would have prevented. I truly believe that our balance of 50:50 domestic UK and international clients is largely made possible by the flexibility that our working model offers. This strategy has held us in great stead as we continue to navigate the Brexit reforms, and it is no surprise to me that we grew significantly during the pandemic, confident and assured in our working practices and even, on occasion, invited to share how firms might culturally thrive in a remote working world.
Further, one of the most heartening developments has been the expansion of the industry beyond London into the corners of the UK. That geographical growth has been supercharged by the impressive work of the Kalifa Review, and rather than following the conversation, we have been actively engaged in it; mentoring firms, judging competitions, showcasing successes and proactively engaging with regional bodies including SuperTech West Midlands, Fintech West, Fintech North and helping innovative startups across the country.
Navigating new challenges
I am reflecting now on our history as we are gripped by another economic crisis, and I remain as confident as I was 15 years ago that we will welcome a new generation of innovators, all set to challenge thinking and drive greater efficiency, accountability and client and purpose-focused functionality across the industry.
And it’s coming quickly. As the internet evolves into its next ‘Web 3.0’ iteration, it is a thrilling experience to be working with firms as they take early steps into it. At Streets Consulting, we are of course throwing ourselves in head first and have already taken to holding meetings in the Metaverse and will soon be launching a new series entitled “Metaverse: What Matters?” with Dr. Catriona Wallace, founder of the Responsible Metaverse Alliance.
As we are seeing in the maturing crypto world, the road won’t always be smooth, and our years of experience has taught us important lessons in navigating turbulent times. But just as we did 15 years ago, we are helping companies tackle those head on and positioning them to take advantage of what may lay before them.
Putting people at the heart
At the heart of our success over the past 15 years of Streets Consulting, has of course been the people.
I always say to anyone who will listen, this is the most talented team I have ever worked with, and it is hard to convey just how powerfully I believe that. Just as the financial sector has grown around the country and internationally, our team hails from around the corners of the UK and beyond, and that diversity of thought, background and experience has helped us shape both our business and the financial services conversation for the better.
The team’s abounding and intentional curiosity has kept both me and our clients savvy to the shifts taking place around us, and I want to say take this moment to publicly acknowledge and thank them. They’re a talented, smart and truly fun group, and I thank them for making Streets Consulting an organisation I have been proud to lead.
And we’ve grown up along the way. We’ve created practice areas specialising in capital markets, payments, regtech, crypto and investment management. We continually invest in making sure we are up to date with the latest traditional and digital marketing and communications practices, and this year we welcomed a Managing Director into the fold to steer our continued growth and development, not least as my international schedule literally takes flight now we’re out of lockdown.
We have seen monumental change since 2007. But now looking ahead, I can’t wait to be working alongside the team and industry to see what the next 15 years will bring.
And finally, and above all else, I’d like to thank our clients. I am so proud that since I started this business nearly every client has resulted from a direct approach or recommendation. We never take lightly the trust you place in us to represent your brands and to help you grow. Truly, thank you, it is a great privilege.