Deloitte ploughs £25m into staffers' startups

18 November 2014 -


Financial firm establishes multimillion-pound investment fund for employee-generated projects to keep talent from leaving the company

Jermaine Haughton

“Big Four” accountancy firm Deloitte is the latest multinational to show an interest in the business ideas of its workers, with the launch of a special startup investment fund dedicated to projects hatched by employees. The Innovation Investments scheme, backed with £25 million from Deloitte itself, allows staff with the best ideas the opportunity to work full-time on bringing their business concepts to fruition.

Support will be offered by the auditing firm in the form of office space and access to internal expertise in areas such as marketing, technology and the law – in other words, a whole suite of business solutions that will help staffers to get their projects up and running. Deloitte has designed the initiative to stem the flow of staff who have been leaving the company to start their own businesses – and there are signs that the fund has already been a hit: no fewer than 60 proposals have been submitted in the first two weeks.

Deloitte managing partner for innovation Simon Owen told City AM: “What we were finding was that levels of attrition were going up as young, talented, Generation Y employees were looking to leave the company to do something exciting and different. So we thought, why can’t they do something different here and we’ll support them?” He added: “The attrition argument is an important one in today’s so-called ‘war for talent’. We wanted to create this fund so that people can express themselves without necessarily leaving the firm.”

Over the summer, Spanish bank Santander launched a London-based workers’ investment fund of £64m aimed at the financial technology market – with a particular focus on the digital delivery of financial services, online lending, e-financial services and big-data analytics. A number of other firms in the same sector have used similar tactics to help staff fulfil their entrepreneurial ambitions, in efforts to attract and retain top talent, and benefit from tools developed for the emerging fintech industry. Indeed, just last week, Travelex set-up a £25m fund to back projects that will compete against foreign-exchange startups that have encroached on the company’s market share.

Hailing its fund as “a first” for the company, Deloitte chief executive David Sproul said: “We know that an increasing number of people are attracted to the idea of setting up their own business and trying something different. We believe this initiative offers a unique opportunity to pursue those entrepreneurial ambitions, while remaining an employee of Deloitte and benefiting from the strength of our brand, experience and expertise.”

For more on these issues, sign up to this 26 November CMI seminar, Innovation Masterclass for Managers.

Image of Deloitte sign courtesy of 360b / Shutterstock.

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