Your community has to be at the heart of everything you do

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Tom Stafford Social Media and Community Manager
4min read

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I don’t know if I think about the Roman Empire every day, but awards submissions? I can’t seem to escape them.

It feels like every week an email lands in my inbox that starts with something like ‘You’ve only got 2 weeks left to enter our awards!’ Our brand name is often copy and pasted in some bizarre font and we’re usually being asked to pay hundreds of pounds to ‘be in the running’. Not great. 

The financial world is inundated with industry awards, making it increasingly hard to figure out which ones are worth paying attention to and which are just trying to make as much money as possible from their awards . Which is fine by the way... But it’s not the 11:FS model. 

If you’re reading this, you might have heard, but the 2023 11:FS Awards are only 3 weeks away. It’s our second time around, after what we thought was a pretty successful inaugural event last year. 

So, now that we’re on the other side of the red carpet and back hosting our own awards, I want to explain a bit more about how we want the 11:FS awards to represent and reflect the successes of the wider financial services community. 

Stop thinking about what you get out of it 

When we started building out the concept of the 11:FS Awards, we started with a simple question: What value can we bring? There’s a bunch of very good fintech awards already, so what’s the point in 11:FS adding another? 

The answer we quickly landed on was credibility. 

To stand out, everything about our awards has to be authentic and transparent. We want to truly celebrate the people, brands, and products that have changed financial services for the better, all across the world, not just those who gathered the most votes or paid for the most seats at the table. 

Our shortlist is open to everyone in financial services, wherever they are in the world. You can nominate yourself, be nominated by a member of the public, or be recommended by one of our experts here at 11:FS. There’s nothing to pay to enter, all we want to know is what this company, product, or person has done in the last twelve months to benefit their community. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. 11:FS isn’t a charity. We work with event partners to bring the awards to life. But we don’t partner with anyone who doesn’t share our passion and belief in the power of our industry to make meaningful changes to people’s financial lives. And rest assured, we spend way more time worrying about the credibility of our awards, than watching the balance sheet.

Rest assured, we spend way more time worrying about the credibility of our awards, than watching the balance sheet.

Celebrate everything that makes your community unique 

Here’s our community strategy in one line: 

We’re building the future of financial services, but we realise we can’t do that on our own. 

We’re humble enough to know that truly changing global financial services for the better takes a huge collaborative effort from everyone in our industry. 

We’re in a unique position at 11:FS. Whether it’s our Ventures team working with the biggest financial institutions in the world, or 11:FS Pulse helping innovative fintechs build awesome new products, or our Fintech Insider podcast being listened to over 21 million times, we bring together innovators, decision-makers, game-changers, regulators, builders, and so many more.

That’s why you’ll see a diverse range of categories with our awards show that features everything from the best use of AI to the most progressive regulation.We feel that bringing people who have done amazing things together in a room with other people who have done amazing things can only be a good thing for an industry that thrives off the spark of connection and innovation. 

It’s a cliche but, a rising tide truly lifts all boats. 

My unfiltered opinion

Community isn’t having a popular slack channel, or a bucket load of followers on social media. It’s about baking it into everything you do. “How is this thing that we’re making/doing going to benefit our community?” should be at the forefront of everything you do.

Whether it’s a podcast, a new report, an email, a live event, or an awards show, it doesn’t matter. The overarching aim is to bring value to the people listening, reading, or showing up. Rewarding the time they’re giving you with the insights (and entertainment) they need to make their own impact.

It’s always so exciting for us to see how many people are dedicated to improving our industry with such fervent passion and dedication - and the 11:FS Awards is our way of giving them a nod of appreciation for doing so. 

If there’s something you take away from this, I hope it’s that whatever you are making you think to yourselves: what value is this bringing to your community? 

 Tom Stafford
About the author

Tom Stafford

Tom leads our social and community strategy at 11:FS. He's here to help 11:FS figure out how to get as many people as possible engaging with what we do.