Exness’ Elena Krutova on the challenges of FX industry HR during COVID-19
The Retail FX sector is one which has done fairly well during the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry’s success has always been tied to financial market volatility (nobody wants to trade when markets flatline!), and we certainly have had a lot of that in 2020.
From a management perspective, the industry also sets up well for remote work. Most FX broker employees sat at computer terminals in the office pre-pandemic, so it wasn’t too difficult to transition to working from computers at home.
However lost in all this was how an FX firm such as Exness – which has grown to become one of the largest Retail FX brokers globally – was able to not just maintain status quo but manage growth among multiple locations this year, at a time when business was absolutely hopping.
We’re pleased to speak today with Elena Krutova, Exness’ Global Head of HR, on these topics and a whole lot more.
FNG: Hi Elena, and thanks for joining us today. Managing a remote team across the globe is a huge project. How challenging have the past few months been from an HR perspective for Exness?
Elena: We had to think outside the box. Making the transition from a fully in-office environment to remote working in Exness was well planned and organized. We started to prepare slightly in advance to forestall the lockdowns in the countries where the offices are located. It was a huge challenge which we successfully managed and now our employees are working in flexible mode from more than 10 locations.
We did a lot from an HR perspective: constant communication and various kinds of support for all our people. We also started offering therapy to those who had difficulty in adjusting to the new reality, something other companies only started doing more recently. Our HR team is proud of the overall success of this transition: a lot was expected from HR and I truly hope we managed to exceed expectations.
FNG: According to a survey we’ve seen, productivity spiked initially through WFH (working-from-home). How about now, the better part of a year into the COVID-19 pandemic? What has been your experience?
Elena: Indeed the productivity did increase at the beginning but the challenge was in maintaining it over a long period of time.
To promote a healthy work life balance, especially this year, we heavily promoted some sport and health activities, and introduced team events on-line. Our main focus is our employees, we care about the well-being of them and their families so we are passionate about creating a positive working environment.
FNG: Do you believe that the majority of the workforce (or at least Exness’ workforce) will predominantly be working remotely post-COVID? Long-term, how do you see the work routine changing at Exness, as well as your efforts to recruit good people?
Elena: The majority of people still have a choice: either work from the office or stay home and work remotely. We offer a flexible mode model in Exness. We also often hire fully remote employees who can choose to relocate if they prefer to do so.
FNG: We know that Exness prides itself on promoting diversity – which is expected for a company operating from locations across several continents. What effect has diversity had on trust, collaboration and engagement among your various work teams?
Elena: We always consider diversity when hiring new employees. Working remotely or in a flexible mode is critical. Having 7 different nationalities in our HR team, for example, gives us valuable insight into different cultures and helps us understand things from a different perspective.
FNG: What advice do you have for smaller fintech firms, and HR professionals, based on what you’ve learned the past few months while Exness has continued to put up record numbers?
Elena: First of all, promote flexibility and diversity. Thereby you will be able to notice all the advantages of having people with different points of view and experience in your team.
Trust and empower your employees and last but not least, never lose your passion for business.