2017: A year of change for ClearScore

Reflections on the biggest achievements and challenges of the year and looks to what’s in store for 2018.

2017 is officially drawing to a close and there’s certainly that end of year feeling in the ClearScore office. “Santa Baby” is gently playing in the background this morning, our Engage team are being noisy and André is wearing his Christmas tree hat. I’m hearing bottle tops being removed, not from beer but from soda water – clearly an attempt to feel better after the night before. Most of the team are away on their well-deserved Christmas break, and as I look at the banks of empty seats and screens all I feel is love for what we have created, the team we are becoming and the mission we are on.

At ClearScore we are good at living the highs and lows of life. Encouraged by my example, we are an emotional lot and are very aware that we need to live the journey by celebrating our successes and learning from our failures – all of which we’ve done in plentitude over 2017.

We’ve had a lot to celebrate this year from moving into a new office in Vauxhall, expanding our team, moving our infrastructure to AWS, and signing up our 5 millionth user – all big milestones for us. We’ve also put ClearScore in front of a whole new set of people, creating an experience for those in the UK without credit files, and also serving nearly 250,000 South Africans after we launched ClearScore in South Africa back in June.

It’s been great to see how the team has pulled together to deliver some really demanding projects. We relaunched our mobile apps, have moved towards creating more personalised customer communications, and in the last quarter of the year made some big strides in really building our commercial pace. Speaking of the team, we’ve also had some classic ClearScore parties, most notably our 2nd anniversary conference in July. New relationships have started, we’ve had marriages and births to celebrate, and we were blessed to have our first female team member head off on maternity leave (go Hannah). We have all learnt a lot this year and have managed to have a lot of fun along the way.

But as ever, the fun has also been intertwined with personal challenges and sadness. Team members have left, projects have gone wrong, some users have got frustrated, and we’ve had our fair share of arguments. Members of the team have lost loved ones, relationships have failed, and many of us have battled physical and mental health challenges. But these trials are easier to bear knowing that the environment here at ClearScore is one of support and love towards each other. This, above all, is the aspect of the company I am most proud of.

Looking to the future

If there is one thing that is certain for the year ahead, it’s that 2018 will be another year of mammoth change at ClearScore and in the industry as a whole.

What we have done in the UK and now in South Africa too, is catalyse this change. Our business has forced larger companies than ours to change their strategy, but more important than that, it has delivered value, to millions, for free, forever. In doing we’ve helped to push personal financial services to become healthier and to work harder for you, the consumer.

Whatever the future holds, each one of us at ClearScore is also a catalyst for this change. Whether that’s through focusing on serving our users with passion and dedication, creating our next feature, embracing open banking, giving our colleagues feedback, or pulling together to answer a business challenge, we are each an agent of change within the company and beyond. Our whole team has always used their smarts, their ability, and their energy to create great work and to try to change the market. Next year, we hope to do this on a bigger, global stage.

Thank you

Lastly, as the final chorus of Santa Baby fades, I have some thank you’s to say. To the ClearScore team – you are amazing and wonderful people and being part of your life journey is a privilege and an honour. I’d also like to thank your families – we are a demanding place to work and I know that sacrifices have to be made. To our board – thank you for all your support and advice through the year. And finally thank you to our users – the most important thing in this whole ClearScore operation. Please keep using ClearScore and sending us your feedback and ideas. Helping you work towards better financial well-being is our ultimate mission and your faith in us keeps us going everyday.

I hope you all have a peaceful and restful Christmas holiday and a wonderful 2018.

Justin Basini,

CEO and Co-founder, ClearScore

The case for connectedness and influence – our view on the European referendum

First published on the ClearScore blog on 1st June 2016

I’ve thought long and hard about whether to publish this blog. It represents my personal view of the upcoming EU Referendum. However, and this is the aspect that gave me pause for thought, it also represents the view of the corporate body that is ClearScore.

I think it is incredibly important that employees and users understand both sides of the argument and have clarity on the views of the people and businesses that they rely on. To this end, the ClearScore position on the EU referendum is that on balance, an exit vote would cause significant cost increases and risk to our business and its future. This mirrors my own personal view.

Free movement of talent

The ClearScore business and team is a great reflection of the advantages of being in Europe with the free movement of talent, lowering of barriers to entry and harmonising of regulation.

Klaus Thorup our CTO is half Danish, Frank Sedivy who works with me to create our product is Czech. Matt our lead designer is a Pole. One of our front end developers is from the south of France. Our marketing executive is Polish, but grew up in Wales. We have a Hungarian tester, and a Spanish devops engineer. We even have a member of the team from Luxembourg.

These Europeans are combined with many talented Brits plus representation from India and New Zealand. And these are just people who weren’t born in Britain. I was born in London but my Mum is from Poland and my Dad was Welsh-Italian. In fact most of the team have some European connection.

The point here is that Britain has always had, and massively benefited from, an attitude that welcomed people from all over the world to contribute to our nation both economically and culturally. I am English, British and European. This connected attitude has created the 4th biggest economy in the world and a place where people of all backgrounds can use their talent and hard work to get on and build a good life. If barriers were established to this free movement of talent then the ClearScore business, our economy and our nation would be damaged.

Access to European markets

We want ClearScore to be a global company and we are looking at how we can serve users across Europe and the world. As we look at the global opportunities the fact that regulation is largely harmonised across Europe results in a significant lowering in the barriers to entry and this means that moving into Europe is cheaper and easier. Out of Europe we would lose these advantages.

That’s not to say that more doesn’t need to be done to improve access to other European markets – it does. The massive advantage US tech companies have is the size of their home market. Technology ideas from start ups across Europe should have easy and free access to the whole of the European Union -and its 500m consumers -as easily as the US.

The fact that this doesn’t exist is a major reason why companies like Facebook or Google did not come out of Europe. However does anyone really think that enabling the next major technology goliath to come out of the UK is better achieved by leaving the European Union?

A global signal

I don’t believe a vote to leave would result in the sky falling in on our heads. We are a resilient nation and resourceful people, immigrants to our country as much as anyone. We would survive but something would die. And that would be the perception of Britain as a nation that is proud of our long and glorious history, of taking our values, people and products into the world and welcoming people from around the world to our country.

Leaving the EU would be a signal, in a troubled and dangerous world, that we are less willing to engage, influence and connect with other nations. Once done this can’t be undone – it will irretrievably damage our global reputation, our economy and our ability to be a significant player in a globally connected world.

Everything going on in the world at the moment, from climate change to conflict and terrorism, to technological developments, require interconnected and multi-country systemic change. This is not a time, despite frustrations and difficulties, to become a nation who signals that unity is the wrong course for the world.

Therefore I will be voting, and I would urge anyone connected to ClearScore, employee or user, to vote on the 23rd June to stay in the European Union.


This morning as I was waking up my 3 year old daughter Jemima came into bed for a cuddle. It was cold and she snuggled under the covers putting her head under the duvet. I heard a little voice coming up from beside me, "Dad come under the covers with me." So I dutifully dived my head down under. 

I said to her, "we can't see anything in here," and she replied, "all we can see is the dark."

This reply struck me. How many times do we encounter situations where we dismiss a situation and don't try to see in the dark? How often do we shut down lines of exploration or thinking because we feel we are in the dark and deprived of sensory input or data?

What about trying to understand how people are responding to your website, landing page or proposition? How many times do we just default to, "we need another tool and more data." Sure this is sometimes the right answer but most often it's an excuse not to really think and use our intuition to determine through the darkness an answer to the problem. You'll probably get it mostly right by seeing through the dark and even if you don't pushing yourself will help you develop new ideas of hyptheses to test with your new tools.

What about a difficult relationship issue with a colleague or peer? How often do we make assumptions and not take the time to see through the darkness and really understand what is being said. One of the values that I was taught by Procter & Gamble was; Seek to understand, then be understood. High emotions can create darkness, clouding issues and hiding true feelings, being able to sense effectively through this darkness is not just a work skill but a life skill.   

Even in the dark there are always things to see.


Winner Financial Services Forum Marketer of the Year 2008

I was delighted to receive the Marketer of the Year Award 2008 at the The Financial Services Forum Awards for Marketing Effectiveness at the dinner last week. As I said in my acceptance speech the award was as much a recognition of my team and journey of brand repositioning and marketing effectiveness that we went through at Capital One. 

The award was voted for by the judging panel and members of the Financial Services Forum and they were kind enough to say the following: 

"Justin sits on the leadership team of Capital One in Europe and runs all marketing and brand strategy and execution. Capital One has become one of the leading financial services brands in the UK. By developing segmentation strategies, consumer insights and responding to customer behaviour, Capital One has become:

• the #4 internet marketer in the UK

• #1 above the line credit card advertiser

• and continues to be the #1 acquirer of new credit card customers in the UK.

Justin has sought to align the brand with the strategic direction of the business, building a leading brand marketing capability and driving customer focus though the business.Highlights include:

• Hiring a team of exceptional marketing talent

• Continuing to challenge the market and innovate for the good of the consumer – such as offering customers a free and unique early warning against Identity Theft

• Driving efficiency into the outbound marketing model via digital marketing strategies and sophisticated evaluation techniques

• Delivering significant value to the business in acquiring customers at historically competitive cost by driving commerciality throughout the business

• Recognising that as a major marketer in the UK Capital One has a responsibility to lead, specifically in environmental marketing. It has reduced its carbon footprint by 50%, reduced its outbound mail volumes, moved to 100% recycled paper, and adopted the PAS2020 environmental standard. Justin has personally championed this cause and led the debate through various industry forums."

Financial Services Forum award winners 2008 including Justin Basini as Marketer of the Year 2008