This year has earned itself many titles — not all of them polite. For me, it has been a year of rapid growth, massive learning curves and humility. And I’m sure I’m not alone.
We spent the beginning of the year grappling with a dizzying number of technology solutions, building an infrastructure that would enable our 1,000-strong workforce to do their jobs remotely and keep our investment platform ticking over for millions of users around the world. And we did it in a little over a month, a feat that, prior to the coronavirus, would have been utterly unthinkable.
Like many, for the past eight months, we have been operating and growing our business, thanks to a web of proprietary tools, cloud technology, access management software and more communications platforms than you can shake a stick at.
As a tech company, we were perhaps better placed than many to embrace this change, but that does not mean it was without its challenges. The financial markets have been talked about and covered in the media far more widely this year than ever before; the result being an increased interest in stock investing from pretty much every quarter. At eToro, our global users have grown by an unprecedented amount.
The ‘new normal’
This was not our first experience of excessive demand — during the height of the 2017 crypto rally, our daily signups increased a hundredfold. Anyone who was familiar with the crypto market at the time, will know that many platforms struggled to cope with the influx of users, and there was a point at which we were almost the “last man standing,” although not without considerable effort! The lessons we learned then meant that our disruptions this year were minor. Still, for teams which had developed processes and protocols sitting in the same room, it was a stark adjustment suddenly having to work together from opposite sides of the city.
The same was true of socialising. From our offices in London to Tel Aviv, we are a group that likes to party and I was certain that I did not want lockdowns to get in the way of that. Enter Zoom. We hosted company parties (complete with a DJ), yoga sessions, quizzes and training courses. We sent food and care packages to staff at home. We effectively repurposed all of the solutions on which we were relying to keep our business running to keep our staff connected as well.
And we thrived. Thanks to the cloud tech, conferencing and project management platforms that are now an integral part of our day. These are the companies at the forefront of a megatrend. They are helping to redefine where and how work fits into our daily lives, and they are driving the biggest change in working patterns since the Industrial Revolution.
This year is the moment when remote working becomes normal, but it is just the beginning. As the concept of what it means to be employed changes, and how we work follows suit, so, too, will our definition of work and our attitudes to finance.
The rise of the retail investor
We have already seen the beginning of this. Many of those who began to engage with the financial markets during lockdown continue to gravitate to the companies at the centre of this change, the names they now hear daily. Zoom was the tenth most popular stock globally on the eToro platform in October, and companies such as Salesforce and VMWare now rank far higher than they have in the past. When we launched our RemoteWork thematic portfolio, based around ‘work from home’ stocks, we had strong client interest.
Retail investors are increasingly engaging with, and taking greater responsibility for, their investments. In doing so, we are effectively voting for change, showing the markets which trends we support and believe in. Right now, that is not nine hours, five days a week under artificial lights.
Twitter, Square and Nielsen are among a swathe of companies which have already suggested they will adopt a permanent remote working policy. American Express, Reuters and Airbnb have also extended their work-from-home policies, as has Google which does not expect their employees back in the office until the summer of 2021, although the firm has already announced plans to accommodate remote working beyond that date.
And where they lead, others will follow. The companies and technology solutions that we have all grown to rely on this year are here to stay, and they are only going to become more important as remote working becomes a way of life for many of us.
About the author: Yoni Assia is the co-founding CEO of the multi-asset investment platform eToro, which employs 1,000 people and boasts more than 15 million registered users in over 100 countries. eToro’s Remote Work Portfolio was launched in October and requires a minimum investment of $1,000.
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