Talking Employee Financial Wellness With Adam Hankin Of Wagestream

Talking Employee Financial Wellness With Adam Hankin Of Wagestream

September 11 2019

We were very pleased to discuss employee financial wellness with Adam Hankin (General Manager - Ireland) of Wagestream, a rapidly-growing Fintech on a recent episode of the Your Pursuit of Happiness podcast.

Adam's Background

Laura Smyth:  Adam, can you tell us a little bit about you and Wagestream, please?

Adam Hankin : Bit about me. I'm in Ireland 15 years despite the accent. I was hijacked 15 years ago. I've done a few things in a few different industries, but I've kind of got a bit of a passion for disruption.

Adam Hankin: And so the last 10 years of my life I've kind of been involved in disrupting the real estate photography scene, marketing for SMEs. Maybe business SME lending with peer-to-peer rather than the banks.

Adam Hankin: And then more recently here with Wagestream that I've just started. Probably, it's coming on nearly a year now that I started this and launched it in Ireland.

Paul Smyth: What's disruption?

Adam Hankin: Disruption is just taking the traditional form of how we know it, and turning it on its head.

Paul Smyth: You're not a big disruption. Like we do it on Blockchain as well, and it's one of those words when I hear, I just kind of go, really? Because sometimes it's disruption like your calling it, disruption for the sake of it because it's sort of cool and trendy. Just know what, what makes disruption real? What makes it work?

Adam Hankin: It has to do as it says. It has to actually disrupt. If I'm talking about the current role with Wagestream.

Adam Hankin: A hundred years ago, you would've been paid every week. And you finished your week's work, and you're queued up, and you got paid in cash.

Adam Hankin: A hundred years later, we now get paid monthly. And if you think of anything in your lifetime, in a hundred years has got four times slower, I will buy anybody a pint. Because it is impossible to think of something that's got four times slower in a hundred years.

Adam Hankin: We have found every single way to make everything more instant, more on-demand, and pay is never been touched. And in fact, it's regressed. So in this instance, I'm going to turn on its head. And say that you could get paid whenever you want. And that is a real disruption when you're in a monthly pay zone.

Adam Hankin of Wagestream

Paul Smyth: So in terms of Wagestream. What do you guys actually do, and how does it work?

What Does Wagesteam Do?

Adam Hankin: We give employees the ability to pay themselves whenever they want. The reason for this is A, it puts them in more control.

Adam Hankin: But B, most employees do not have a rainy day fund set aside. The cost of living has got to that extent. Now where most people, I think it's 55% of people, are living month to month. They can't afford a 250 euro unplanned expense at the end of a pay cycle.

Adam Hankin: So if the car breaks down, or the washing machine goes, what options do people have? And they generally have to go towards overdrafts, credit cards or worst-case scenario, kind of a payday or short term high-interest loan. And we just think, why should you have to do that when you have earned that money? And at 20 days into the month, you've worked 20 days. You've given your business an interest-free loan, so to speak.

Adam Hankin: So why put yourself into a cycle of debt? When an unplanned expense comes up, you should be able to access your own wages.

Paul Smyth: And so that does approx to what you guys do, right?

Adam Hankin: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: You can access what you've earned before your scheduled kind of payday or pay cycle, essentially.

Adam Hankin: A portion of it.

Adam Hankin: We're charity backed. We actually report to a bunch of charities, in terms of how we are stopping people from accessing things like payday loans and things.

Adam Hankin: So part of it, one of our goals is to improve people's financial wellbeing. The other one is to eradicate payday loans. And the other one is to kind of end overdraft fees. But in terms of improving people's financial wellbeing and where we see that, businesses are looking at wellbeing and financial wellbeing as kind of being forgotten about. And bringing financial wellbeing to the fore just brings so many benefits to both the employee and the business.

Employee

Laura Smyth: Sure. Sounds as amazing for employees. What are the benefits for employers, and does it have a negative impact on their cash flow?

Adam Hankin: So the great thing about this, it has no impact on the cashflow. Wagestream actually fronts all of the streamed income.

Adam Hankin: So if an employee decides to stream income into monthly, they go into their app, which is in the pocket available to them 24 seven. And they can see a portion of what they've earned. Sorry, that was where I was leading with that point beforehand. I kind of went off on a tangent.

Paul Smyth: We like tangents. Tangents are good.

Adam Hankin: I thought I recovered well, but obviously not!

Adam Hankin: We give employees access to 50% of their earning. Up to 50%. And that's to make sure that they don't get themselves into financial difficulty. But that comes, if an employee goes into the app and they can see what they've earned. When they click to stream that income, it comes from Wagestream's bank account. Not from the actual employee's bank out. So it doesn't affect the cash flow for the business at all.

Adam Hankin: The other benefits to the business. If you speak to most businesses these days, in this world of nearly full employment, their biggest problems are retention and recruitment of staff.

Adam Hankin: If you have this benefit where you feel in control of your finances, you can access money whenever you need it, you're not going to move to another company that doesn't have it. So the retention gain is huge. We're seeing up to 40%. We'd almost guarantee businesses that they'd see a 10% reduction in staff turnover.

Adam Hankin: Likewise, in the recruitment sense, if you've got two jobs side by side and one of them pays monthly and one of them pays whenever you want. And which one are you going to apply to? So you'll see a massive uplift in that.

Adam Hankin: The third piece, which was kind of probably the most surprising and actually one of the most important pieces to businesses, is a productivity game. This is more so in the world of shift work. So hospitality, retail, manufacturing, security, that kind of thing. But in that world, you could work at shift on Thursday and get paid on a Friday if you wanted.

Adam Hankin: So people can now see this relationship back between work equals reward. And that's probably been lost since in the school holidays you're washing cars or mowing lawns or whatever. And now people can actually see that look, I need to pay the rent this week. And they go, I can't go out this weekend because of that. But they could work on additional shift and do it. So now people can see that in a changing tech control of their own finances.

Adam Hankin: And that part of it, we see probably about a 22% uplift in that. And that's actually data proven. Because we will tie in and do tech integrations with the time and attendance software providers. We pull the information from them.

Adam Hankin: So when you finished a shift, it updates in your app. So an employee actually sees, I've worked at shift and now I know how much I've earned. And it's almost like they're not getting the cash, but it feels like they've just been told that's what they've earned. Which has kind of been an idea that's been lost in this kind of pay cycle. Whether it's weekly or monthly. So that is brought back to the fore.

Paul Smyth: Well you showed me the app the other day, it seems really straight forward. Like you log in, and you just click what you want essentially.

Adam Hankin: You click on what you want. And the thing that we're not great at talking about is actually, we've got a financial education piece in the background. We've just launched a savings element to it.

Adam Hankin: So we've partnered with MABS, the Money Advice Bureau. They literally providing us with financial education. So they've got a bunch of financial education articles. We're kind of putting them into more bite-sized content. We're going to house them an app in the next couple of months. That will be kind of budgeting advice, how to read a payslip, how to get stuff out of negative equity. Things like this that people are interested in.

Adam Hankin: But using AI, we can then personalize the information that is shown to you. So Paul, if you're great in the month and you never use Wagestream at all, we'll send you savings advice and maybe pension advice.

Adam Hankin: Whereas, if I've had a tough month and I've had to use it three or four times in the months, we'd prioritize budgeting advice. How to lower your bills, that type of advice tools.

Adam Hankin: And the next bit is Savestream which is, essentially, we want everyone to have a sidecar savings scheme or a rainy day fund. And with the technology that we have, we can easily provision those. And that can automatically come out of the payroll.

Paul Smyth: Okay. And so you look after Ireland, you mentioned the other day, you do a little bit in the UK as well?

Adam Hankin: Yeah. So I was doing a bit in the UK and in Ireland. Mainly Ireland.

Wagestream In Ireland

Paul Smyth: How's it going in Ireland? What's the take-off looking like?

Adam Hankin: So in Ireland, it was a little bit longer for us to get the banking infrastructure started because it's slower over here. Unfortunately. These transfers in the UK only take four seconds. So literally you go on your app and you click the button. And within four seconds that money is in your account. You can't even log into your online banking quick enough to beat it. It's there.

Adam Hankin: With us, we're governed by batch processing of the banks. So it's three batches per day. So if it's done early in the morning, it can be in your account by three o'clock. If it's later on, it will be the next day.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. Bank cut offs, basically.

Adam Hankin: Yeah. So that took us a bit more time. But essentially we've got five companies signed up. Probably it's going to be available to about 7,000 staff once we've got it rolled out. We're generally speaking to enterprise-level clients with 250 to a thousand plus employees, is where it's at.

Adam Hankin: A lot of these businesses actually have wellbeing departments, or rewards and wellbeing consultant. They are genuinely trying to improve the wellbeing of staff.

Paul Smyth: Is it compatible with Lexicon or Revolut's and N26 all in all?

Adam Hankin: It's compatible with any bank accounts. All that happens is that if you get paid into a certain account, we just have a piece of tech, it's another bank account that sits in between. So the only thing that the Payroll Department would actually have to do is actually just change the account number they pay into. This account's in the employee's name. No money sits in it, it just passes through it. But it's kind of a smart ledger account that remembers everything that's happened.

Adam Hankin: So without going too technical, you stream wages in the middle of the month. Wagestream, from its funds, puts it through that middle account that we've set up. That smart ledger account. And it goes into your account.

Adam Hankin: The beauty of this for the business is that when Payroll make their payroll, they don't have to make any manual deductions. So the initial reaction of any payroll department is oh, this is going to be a manual process. We're going to have to manually deduct this for John and for Jenny. And actually no, they don't. They make their net payments as usual. It hits that middle account and it diverts off the amount.

Adam Hankin: So that's the key thing. It's seamless for payroll departments so it doesn't affect the cashflow or the payroll.

B2B Sales Advice

Laura Smyth: Changing direction a little now. You have a sales background. Could you share some sales advice for people trying to acquire new customers for their Fintech startups?

Paul Smyth: Yes! For my sins, I've been involved in sales for a long, long time. And managed plenty of salespeople.

Paul Smyth: The piece of advice that I'd give on this, and it's a lost art form, is just people... I think the world today, there's a lot of people doing presentation training. How to get up there and present to people. And a lot of people think that sales is just talking to people.

Paul Smyth: The key to actually selling is finding out what the customer wants. And actually forgetting about selling. It's about finding out what a business needs. A good needs analysis of a business. So that should be the majority of the sales process, should actually be sitting down and asking about the business. And finding out what they want and need.

Paul Smyth: Because frankly, if you don't have something that solves their pain you're all wasting your time. You can be the best salesperson in the world. But if you don't solve a problem they have, they're not going to spend any money on it.

Paul Smyth: My experience with hiring salespeople, training salespeople, is too many people get into a role and they find out all about the features and benefits of that business. And sit there chanting this, all of these key selling points to them. To a business, rather than actually finding out what they need.

Paul Smyth: And you will be surprised. If you actually take the time to find out what a business needs, you are probably going to be the outlier. They've been pitched to constantly by a bunch of other companies. And when somebody comes in and actually wants to know about their business, or about how to help their business, there'll be a bit more receptive to you.

Paul Smyth: Why do you think people don't do that as much?

Adam Hankin: I tell you what it is. People think that if you are confident, and you can hold a conversation and people like you, you're good at sales. Sales is an art form. It's like anything. It's ridiculous. It's like me thinking that just because I watch football, I'll be good at it. You have to go out and train it. And read books. Try and learn more about sales. Because it's an art form.

Adam Hankin: And I don't want it to sound if it's like some black art or something, that people are getting hoodwinked. It isn't hard. But people forget certain elements. Like you've got two ears and one mouth, use them in that order. And just because you are friendly and you can open doors, that will only get you so far.

Adam Hankin: But even just the basics. Like if I asked you two, what is the most annoying thing that ever happens to you when you're getting sold to?

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: And let's say you even want to buy.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: What's the annoying thing that happens to you?

Paul Smyth: For me, it's someone overselling. Being too pushy. I can't stand it.

Adam Hankin: Yeah. So that only happens, generally, if they got a rubbish product and they have to try to oversell it.

Adam Hankin: The thing that really annoys me the most, and the thing that is unforgivable, is that when I actually want to buy something and somebody doesn't call me back. And chase me on it.

Adam Hankin: Well I should never, as a purchaser, have to ring somebody up and say hi, I actually want to buy that. And I will sit there deliberately not ringing people back. You will be surprised at how many people. And I actually want to buy from them. And go now that is actually the best price and probably what I want. And it pains me sometimes to actually ring them up and give them the business. Because they haven't been bothered to ring me back!

Paul Smyth: We had two experiences recently actually.

Paul Smyth: So one was our recruitment database. And we were under a bit of time pressure because we were looking at switching. There's a 90-day clause or whatever, to terminate your contract. And you've pretty much identified to who wanted to go with. And there was a call. And then there was a second call. And then there was a scoping call to see how much it would cost to transfer data and all that stuff.

Paul Smyth: And you told your man on the scoping call. Said look, we have 10 days to make a decision on this. I need to know the cost upfront. I chased them four days after he said he'd send it onto me. And then I got an email off the guy on Sunday and it was too late. I get she said the business is yours, all it needs is an email and an idea of cost.

Paul Smyth: And due to our miles, we switched to an electric car earlier on this year. The difficulty in giving someone in a car dealership money is horrendous!

Paul Smyth: It's just insane! Absolutely insane.

Laura Smyth: We sold the car ourselves. To ourselves.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. But literally walked in and said this is what I want.

Laura Smyth: I want that one.

Paul Smyth: Just need to know what you're going to give us for a trade-in. That's everything. Crazy.

Adam Hankin: I know it. And I love being sold to by somebody that actually understands what they're doing. Nothing frustrates me more.

Paul Smyth: It's not that often though.

Adam Hankin: Well that's the thing. As I say, it's a lost art form.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: It just doesn't seem to be getting taught properly in businesses.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. We talked about this a lot actually in our own business. Because we're kind of in a strange position where it's a two-sided marketplace. Where we have clients and we have job seekers.

Paul Smyth: But for us, it's all about making sure that we're as responsive as we can. And that simple thing, or if you say you're going to do something, you do it.

Adam Hankin: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: Even under promise and over deliver is better than the other way around.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: I'll have it for you in two days. If you have it for you in one day, happy days.

Adam Hankin: But then you're seen as the hero.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. Exactly.

Adam Hankin: Yeah, no, absolutely. I'm completely with you on all these things.

Paul Smyth: And so with sales, we talked about this very briefly the other day. On the kind of rise of social selling and all that. I think it's a more complex process, and people have changed a little bit. And in some ways, if you were starting out in your sales career, or you did it for a few years and you enjoy it and you want to kick on. What advice would you give to someone to stay ahead of the game, or get to the top of their game?

Adam Hankin: It depends on the industry as well. I've worked in businesses that really do require face to face settings. Some a telly sales operation.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: So there are different elements to it. But my recent experience, especially with enterprise-level sales, is getting out from away from that computer. And get out and meet people.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: I had a really interesting experience the other week. We met with one of the VCs who invested in Wagestream. And we were chatting with him just about the different people that he could introduce us to. And we were talking about going proper c-suite, heads of, people like the BBC and stuff that. It was a really, really good chat.

Adam Hankin: And one thing that struck me was that there's no real fine art to this. Obviously he's done exceedingly well to get to where he is. But when it comes to opening doors, it's all about who you know.

Adam Hankin: And he was able to just list off a bunch of people. Going I know him, I share a board with him. I know this lady, she's on that board. We've got a mutual interest here. Or somebody else was on the same charity board as him. And it was just a case of acquaintances. I've never experienced anything better than actually going to networking events and meeting people in the same space.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: Going with actually zero intention of getting anything. And that is important. You shouldn't be looking at these events going, what am I going to get out of it.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: Go to them to meet people.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: And I think Ireland's great for this. Especially Dublin. Everybody knows everybody. And everybody really wants to help each other out.

Adam Hankin: So you get yourself into these things and you will meet people. And it might not happen overnight. But as time goes on, there will be opportunity from it. Whether it's in your current business, in future business. Whether it's a job opportunity in the future.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: I'm a big advocate of networking.

Laura Smyth: Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more. I don't think there's ever been a networking event that we've gone to where something hasn't materialized in the longer term.

Adam Hankin: Yeah.

Laura Smyth: As I said, it doesn't happen right away. But there's nothing more powerful than the face to face contact.

Paul Smyth: Personal connection. Yeah.

Adam Hankin: And the other thing is just good old fashioned hard work.

Laura Smyth: Yeah!

Adam Hankin: I know plenty of people who are happy to get away with a day doing as little as possible. But if you are doing as little as possible, you've got somebody else out there that's working hard trying to build their business. Competition will always arise.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. Exactly.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: We can see it in the UK. We were the first people in Europe to do this. There are now five other players in the market.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. And they're looking to eat your lunch as well.

Adam Hankin: They are. Absolutely. They're looking to eat lunch and dinner. They are looking for the whole lot! And if we're not on it, they will reach higher.

Adam Hankin: Luckily for us, we've got an absolute killer tech team that is able to... Our tech is unrivalled. I genuinely believe we have the best product out there.

Adam Hankin: But having the best product out there and nobody knowing about it is even more criminal. That's even more criminal. You need to get out there and make sure people understand it.

Laura Smyth: Definitely.

Laura Smyth: Adam, if people want to connect with you or learn more about Wagestream in Ireland, what should they do next?

Adam Hankin: So Wagestream.ie is the website. I'm pretty active on LinkedIn. If you can put up with me, it's Adam Hankin. So hunt me out on LinkedIn. Or it's Adam@wagesteam.ie.

Laura Smyth: Great. Thank you very much, Adam.

Adam Hankin: Thanks for having me.

Paul Smyth: Thanks, Adam.

How To Contact Adam

If you want to learn more about Adam and Wagestream, visit their website or contact Adam on LinkedIn.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.

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