Data excellence at 9fin


People and Culture

Data excellence at 9fin

Brian Dearing's avatar
  1. Brian Dearing
4 min read

Data excellence lies at the heart of what we offer — but what is it, what does ‘excellent’ look like, and how do we maintain a culture that strives for excellence as we scale?

We spoke to Brian Dearing, director of operations and legal affairs, to find out.

Hi Brian! Firstly, what does data excellence actually mean?

Data excellence has several critical components. It’s about:

  • Having a platform that’s providing clients with the right data
  • Providing easy access to that data, so that they can painlessly extract the information that’s relevant to them
  • Making sure that quality of data is near-perfect in terms of accuracy and reliability

All of this helps us build and maintain our clients’ trust.

Most people want to do a great job — if you equip them with the knowledge and resources to succeed, everyone can win

Why is quality of data important in our industry?

If our data isn’t up to scratch, customers won’t use it — and so they shouldn’t. Poor quality data is, in some ways, worse than having no data. Poor quality in this context could be anything from inaccuracies to missing information.

This has a cascading effect. On the client’s side, using poor data would make them seem unreliable to their clients — damaging their reputation. If that’s our fault, that would be a disaster.

We’re always striving to make sure this never happens.

How do we ensure high quality data at 9fin?

High quality data comes from a lot of things happening at the same time — this means you must have incredible talent, robust systems and processes, superb training, clear guidelines, and a constant feedback loop.

I believe that most people want to do a great job — if you equip them with the knowledge and resources to succeed, everyone can win. Part of this is ensuring everyone understands the ‘why’ behind what they’re doing.

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers and forget the reason why you’re doing the work; keeping our clients at the forefront is a no-brainer.

We constantly talk about how our data gets used by clients, and why it needs to be excellent. That context is super valuable.

We also use tech as much as possible to ensure excellence; we have tech-enabled systems to increase accuracy, and follow up with a human quality assurance process.

For new joiners, making sure our data is near perfect is a big responsibility. How does 9fin enable them to succeed from day one?

We launched a new office in Belfast, so making sure the Belfast team is closely aligned with teams in London and New York is a huge priority. This also includes making sure that our data offering has a consistently high quality across all of our products.

With the Belfast team, we’ve created a robust training programme to help them work independently as soon as possible. There’s a three-step process to enabling these teams:

1. Sharing industry know-how. We give our employees the context of what they’re doing. This revolves around sharing knowledge about the industry we’re in. What exactly is leveraged finance? What are loans, and how are they different to bonds? Who are the professionals that work in this industry?

2. Sharing information about 9fin as a tool. We train our teams on the platform so they have a better understanding of what we do. How does 9fin work? What are our strengths and improvement areas? When would professionals need to use 9fin? How do law firms use 9fin, and how is that different to an investment bank’s use case?

3. Teaching the processes. We’ve built in-depth guides in our workspace tool so people can refer back whenever they’re unsure of the process they should be following. The more information you can include, the better — our explainers include the context, a robust Q&A, and a step-by-step guide.

On top of all this we implement a solid feedback loop so we can help our employees improve. In this training period, nothing goes out to a client that hasn’t been double checked for accuracy.

No one is expected to retain all the knowledge they are inundated with day one ... Sustained excellence isn’t immediate; it’s incremental

What’s the end goal of this training process?

Independence. Ideally, after this training and coaching, every individual data associate will reach the point where they can work on their own, with confidence — their work no longer needs to be deeply reviewed, and the teams handle their own quality assurance.

It’s also a big win if our data associates can help each other. We’ve established a buddy system through which they can share their strengths and help each other improve. It’s an incredible way to build out a team that’s reliable, resilient and scalable.

You mentioned scalability — does this training process get easier or harder as we continue to grow?

If you build from the ground-up with the right principles in mind, it should get easier. You build a team that embodies the vision of the business, and that mindset keeps spreading through the team the bigger you get.

What advice would you give to a new joiner responsible for our data excellence?

When it comes to leveraged finance, nothing is straightforward! You’ll make mistakes when starting out, and this industry is hard to get a grasp of in the early stage.

But the leadership team can help you set the right expectations, build up your confidence, and offer training and support. No one is expected to retain all the knowledge they are inundated with day one — we’ll continue to train you until it sticks, and then we’ll do some more!

Sustained excellence isn’t immediate; it’s incremental.

Finally, what are you most looking forward to with the launch of our Belfast office?

We’re six weeks into our Belfast office launch and we have already received positive feedback from our clients who are feeling the benefits. I’m excited to see that feedback roll in as clients continue to have a great experience with our platform.

If you want to join a business that puts excellence at its core, great news — we’re hiring. Get in touch to find out more about open roles at 9fin.

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