Having spent some time over the last couple of days at Finovate, I’ve been thinking a lot about metrics and what they tell us. In particular, every product demoed this week came with a lovely looking dashboard with colourful graphs and lines traveling up and to the right. Whilst the majority of the Finovate conference was focussed on assets under management and compound growth rates, however, there was another set of indicators which really caught my eye.
Working as we do in Shoreditch, Ormsby Street is in the heart of London’s start-up tech-city, just a hundred meters or so from Silicon roundabout. Around our office, a quick study of the faces of male pedestrians can be expected to achieve a facial hair index (FHI) of around 80-85%. Particularly noticeable is the presences of really quite striking hipster beards which cause the hipster facial hair index (HFHI) of 25-30% on some streets. I think it’s fair to say that many consider the chin curl factor within a team to be a leading indicator of success.
Taking this at face value, I attended Finovate with the full expectation that given that is was full of highly successful startups who have achieved significant growth and success, the face fungus quotient would be pushing well over 90% – I was fully prepared for my clean shaven chin to stick out like a sore thumb.
Imagine my surprise then when I saw a striking contrast with Shoreditch, barely two miles south, the FHI was less than 10% and the HFHI was approaching zero. How could this be? I was confused – could it be that being so successful meant that these chaps didn’t have time to attend to their shave anymore? Keen to know more I spoke to a few delegates. After a few conversations, it became clear that there were at least two factors at work reducing the beardiness of the room. First a lot of the delegates were from the banking, rather than the startup community where clean chins (not to mention ties) are the norm. Also, many of the startups involved had specifically targeted the financial sector and so in order to project the image they were looking for, had gone fresh-faced in order to fit in. However, according to my completely unscientific study, even accounting for these there should have been at least a 30% FHI in the room.
The answer came when I spoke to one of the few bristly bankers that I found. He pulled me to one side and said that he’d thought about going the whole hog, but on reflection had decided that “well, those beards look a bit silly don’t they”. So it seems that it’s not so much the city that’s unusual for the absence of beards, but the startup community that’s out of touch with the clean-shaven types in the rest of the finance industry!
Other interesting indexes and comparison: the Denim Index: Shoreditch 62%, Finovate 28%. And alas the proportion of ladies present hovering between 30-40% in the startup community but dropping below 10% in the FinTech event of the year.
In the spirit of Financial Technology, I could draw some conclusions from all of this, but I thought it’d be more fun to create an infographic.