FinTech is one of the hottest sectors around at the moment. Worth around $127bn globally (and expected to grow to $309.98 billion at an annual growth rate of 24.8% by 2022), FinTech companies attracted almost £18bn of all global venture capital investment in 2019 (Workthere Global FinTech Report 2019) with landmark cities such as London, New York and San Francisco leading the way.
Activity in this sector has been dominated by a series of deals between payment companies including Goldman Sachs’ acquisition of Final in January 2018. This merger, alongside others, has cemented the unparalleled demand from consumers for whom cash payments have become almost obsolete and smart phones rule in a world of online retail.
Yet, in the midst of all this, there are also changes afoot with regards to the FinTech sector’s relationship with real estate. As a relatively young sector teeming with smaller start-ups all seeking to disrupt and revolutionise, FinTech companies have historically been attracted to flexible offices taking contracts for as long as they need while they grow their platform. As these early-stage companies grow headcount and become more well-established, the expectation is for them to move to larger perhaps more conventional offices on a leased basis to support their growth.
So how does this impact the office landscape with more and more FinTech start-ups either being snapped up by larger rivals or graduating from a small pod of shared desks to whole floors or even their own offices?
What we are seeing are increasing similarities between two types of office, conventional and flexible, in order to accommodate start-ups at this point in their ‘scale-up’ journey). This ‘grey’ middle ground that has been created, has been filled by a hybrid space that incorporates the ’service’ element of flexible space (such as a variety of amenities, built-in bars, restaurants and child care) and the more traditional office characteristics (fixed lease terms, bespoke design and company branding on each floor) in a bid to attract companies who might be used to the flexi-life but who might want a little longer-term security alongside a space which they can begin to put their own stamp on, somewhere to instil the culture their business wants to create.
Why is it so important to get this right? As the quest for attracting the very best graduate talent heats up, companies are doing all they can to hire people of the highest calibre. Currently 83% of university students view flexible working as important (Workthere Office of the Future Report 2019) and graduate start-ups contributed over £822m to the UK economy in 2018 (Pareto Law). With companies within sectors such as FinTech growing from nascent to established in a relatively short space of time, there has never been a better time for landlords and office providers to create the best space possible for this burgeoning sector.