There’s a lot to like in how (challenger bank) Monzo go about things. As well as creating genuinely customer-centric propositions that disrupt some of the complex nonsense involved in financial services, it’s the way in which they do stuff which is so refreshing. Check out, for example, their tone of voice guide which instead of being some stuffy document or playbook to be emailed around is a simple, clear, well-written, web-native, interesting and even fun thing.
The Tone of Voice guide is an exemplar of something else that Monzo do particularly well – transparency. A lot of brands talk about being open but here’s one that really lives it. Being transparent means being open not just about your successes but about where there is still work to do – for example one of my favourite fintech startups Lemonade allow you to sign up to their ‘transparency chronicles’ about the highs and lows involved with their rapid growth.
Monzo say that their aim is to ‘default to transparency’, and describe this as meaning that they put in place policies and practices that bring information out into the open as often as possible:
‘Over time, transparency becomes the norm, and we create a “burden of secrecy”: an argument must be made to keep something secret, rather than to make it open — a very different approach to most organisations.’
There are, of-course, examples of information (customer details, other sensitive information) which are not shared but wherever possible the default is to be open. There are some key advantages they list for them doing this, notably that it builds internal and external trust, helps empower autonomy and independent decision-making, and also aids on-boarding and staff development.
Trust and autonomy are essential ingredients for moving quickly. But I’d also add that this is an extremely confident approach for any kind of business to take, and this kind of public confidence speaks volumes. For years, companies have believed in advantage through secrecy and closed firewalls but companies like Monzo have taken a very different and quite radical approach to openness and inclusiveness with their customers. Last year Monzo launched their transparency dashboard which aggregates links to all their transparency efforts including to their open (yes, open) product roadmap.
The point is that this is very much a demonstration of not only a customer-centric growth strategy (they now have over 750,000 people using their current accounts) but also the culture that the business has. And I’m a big believer in how culture can create competitive advantage.