February 05, 2020

When moving to a fintech job doesn’t involve moving at all

by Michael Moeser Senior Analyst, PaymentsSource

For many job seekers, the idea of getting a position at a fintech with a great work environment often involves relocating to places like Silicon Valley, Boston or Austin, and being all alone in a new city with a new company.

However, that’s not always the case. One fintech company, Payrailz, is taking a very different approach in how it attracts and onboards new employees.

The first big difference is that many of its employees work remotely, so taking a job with Payrailz doesn’t involve moving. The second big difference is a family culture of inclusiveness where everyone knows everyone else, and it starts on day one, where a new employee is required to share either an embarrassing moment in their lives or “two truths and one lie” on live video to the entire company staff.

“It’s tougher to get the right people these days to fill needed tech jobs, and the more experienced the hire, the tougher it is to get them to move since they often have families or ties to the local community,” said Fran Duggan, CEO and co-founder at Payrailz. “We realized that since many of our jobs lend themselves to remote work, such as software project development, we decided from the onset to create a work environment where remote employees could be at the core of what we do.”

Consideration of whether each job can be done remotely is part of Payrailz’s holistic approach to developing its workforce. Currently, about two-thirds of the staff works remotely. Since the company is dependent on hiring experienced staff for many of its positions, the approach of offering the possibility to work from home actually opens up access to a pool of candidates that would not be available otherwise.


Duggan noted that parents who want to see their child get on the school bus in the mornings or someone with deep community roots is not going to seek a position that takes them away from those things.

It’s also a segment that often gets ignored by the big tech giants such as Google and Facebook.

In some limited cases, Duggan noted, not all jobs can be remote — such as operations roles, where there is a strong need for tight local collaboration at the company headquarters. Yet there is always the question, for each new role, of whether or not being remote is a possibility.

What really brings this all together for Payrailz is that the remote workforce is tied to the mothership through a family culture. Creating a family culture is something that many companies often talk about, especially small private ones, but making it a reality can be a very different story altogether.

One major factor working in Payrailz’s favor is that Duggan is one of eight children, so he knows what it’s like to be part of a large family. Duggan reported that since his personal family gets together at least once or twice a year for a reunion, he felt the same should hold for his Payrailz family as well.

Therefore, Payrailz rounds up its entire staff for a company meeting that happens three or four times a year called the “Family Gathering.”

These meetings often happen at its headquarters, but one of the meetings last year took place near Washington, D.C., where Payrailz has a large number of remote staff. The family gathering allows the entire company to get together and bond in person.

“This is a company where title doesn’t matter. Everyone has a say in all the major decisions, just like a family. So to create a family environment it’s important that we all feel valued for our input,” said Mickey Goldwasser, vice president of marketing and employee number one at Payrailz.

Payrailz also sees the family culture as a critical element in fostering the embodiment of its three core values among employees and in its dealings with clients: respect, integrity and transparency.

While many companies talk about leveraging technology, such as video to create a closer bond between employees, Payrailz takes it one step further. The weekly staff meeting called the “Third Rail” is a play on the company’s name, since it provides the payment rails for services such as bill payment and money movement for bank and credit union clients. Executives liken the Third Rail to getting together at the family dinner table.

In the Third Rail meetings, there are two important features that help create and nurture the bonds among employees. The first is that meetings begin with “what’s new” in people’s lives, such as birth announcements or family milestones. The second is a “walk in someone’s shoes” event where an employee teaches everyone in the company what they do in their job, so that everyone understands their role. In many cases, this may be just one of the things an employee does while working at Payrailz.

“In a small company you get to wear many hats. I am head of marketing, but then I also am chief of staff and involved in business development,” Goldwasser said. “There’s an entrepreneurial spirit that runs through everyone that lends itself to people going beyond their job title.”

One thing Payrailz did early on to help it build a unique culture and to stand out from the crowd was to choose purple as the company color.

“We wanted something different. Everyone is green and blue in the financial services industry. We chose the color to be different and stand out,” Duggan said. “It also makes people laugh, have fun and be different.”