Boutique consultancy 11:FS cuts salaries and headcount

13 May 2020 3 min. read
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Financial services advisory firm 11:FS has implemented blanket pay-cuts, furloughing and layoffs to reduce its spending amid the global Covid-19 crisis. According to former employees, the firm’s senior team is worried about a fall in client projects in 2020.

11:FS is a consultancy which was launched in an effort to combine an innovative start-up mentality with some of the best experts in the financial services field. Since its launch, the firm had been growing rapidly, and had used work with the likes of NatWest’s Mettle business banking service, Standard Chartered, and other firms across Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America to establish offices around the world.

In the earliest portion of the year, the firm was still in a position to ramp up its, with 11:FS has committed to strengthening its senior team. In March 2020, this saw the appointment of media, finance and technology veteran Jo Wright as the firm’s Chief Financial Officer, while Benjamin Ensor joined the consultancy as a Director of Research.

Boutique consultancy 11:FS cuts salaries and headcount

As with the broader consulting industry, however, the current Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the firm’s revenues – forcing it to radically change its plans in 2020. As reported by financial news site, 11:FS has launched a swathe of cost-cutting measures amid growing financial difficulties. A number of former employees informed the outlet that 11:FS had implemented a regressive blanket salary cut of 15% across the company – though the company later responded that staff on less than £30,000-a-year were excluded from this – as well as furloughing dozens of its most junior employees, and laying off many more.

All three sources which spoke to AltFi described concern among 11:FS senior leadership that banking clients were cancelling projects and reigning in their spending on consulting. There is a feeling not everyone is in the same boat, however. One former employee heavily implied that top executives were not pulling their weight when it came to keeping the company afloat, stating "they're not being honest about their cash position," as a 15% cut still means salaries of senior leadership remain in excess of £250,000 – while staff are being layed off, or state support is being used to reduce spending.

The UK’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been used by 11:FS to place 26 of its employees (or about 15% of its total workforce) on furlough. The employees largely came from 11:FS’s media and marketing teams which help produce its popular podcasts, videos and written content, along with operations and recruitment – while revenue-generating teams including its consulting wing were unaffected, as were the personal assistants of the company’s senior staff.

Responding on the matter, Group CEO David Brear said, "Like everyone in financial services we’re not immune to the slowdown happening around us… Our number one priority is always to look after our people and our clients, so in order to protect the foundations of what we’ve built, we’ve decided to furlough a number of team members. This will mostly affect support functions like Media, Marketing, Operations and Recruitment staff. We’ve ensured however that all our client and service teams remain intact to keep delivering our best work."