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.