WorldFirst is an international, award- winning, foreign exchange business, providing international currency transfers for businesses and individuals.


Clients: World First


WorldFirst was launched to provide a fast, fair and effortless way to help people move money across borders, with the goal of offering people a true alternative to big banks. In a little over 10 years, they’ve grown from a business that was set up in a south London basement into a global business with offices in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Washington, and Austin. They’ve expanded the range of currencies they can support and broadened their licensing footprint. They have been able to help tens of thousands of clients around the world.

World First has featured on the Sunday Times FastTrack 100 list of the fastest growing businesses in the UK for three years in the last four, and recent awards include Service Business of the Year and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the UK’s leading foreign exchange broker. In 2012, they won their first National Business Award for customer focus. In 2013, they won the UK Customer Experience award in the ‘financial services – banking and investment’ category, and they won the ‘customer service’ category at the 2013/14 European Business Awards.
In 2015, World First was named 26th in The Sunday Times ‘International Track 200’ and listed in the Real Business’s ‘Hot 100’ fastest growing private companies in Britain for the fourth consecutive year.

WorldFirst’s fast growth led to them taking on a large number of new staff, moving from a company of 22 in 2007 to over 300 staff in various countries worldwide 2014. This growth happened without a training and development function and little focus on how to onboard new staff effectively and how to develop the talent they had. Although being awarded 3 stars in the Best Companies Guide in 2013 they were suffering from a lack of talent and professional development which was leading to retention and performance issues. To compound issues their fast growth internationally meant new staff were not being fully integrated into the company culture and ethos leading to wider issues with performance, behaviour and cultural coherence.

The then UK Managing Director, Alex Sullivan, and company CEO, Jonathan Quinn, were keen to address some of these issues to ensure alongside their sustained growth they took better care of how people were trained and brought into the culture of the business. After a recommendation through a partnered client, they asked Joe Hill-Wilson to work with their HR department and senior management team to create and roll out a competency and performance management system to improve the way they brought staff into their international businesses, and to develop their staff throughout their careers.

Review of WorldFirst development structure and processes

Joe worked with the HR department and senior management team to understand how performance and development was managed in the business. He reviewed performance management data, retention trends and company survey results to gain an understanding of what the company needs and expectations were both from the staff and management’s point of view. He also interviewed staff across the business to understand what was unique and powerful about the culture of the business. From this work a series of activities were done with stakeholders to design and implement new materials and processes.

Improved performance

With the insights that came from this work Joe worked with the senior management team to create a competency matrix to help manage a gap assessment of where their staff’s capability was against the ideal benchmarks that the business required to be at their best. From this work there were clear capability gaps that helped define what training and coaching was required. Joe then worked with the business to develop training sessions and materials to address the gaps as well as define the best trainers and coaches to deliver these sessions.
Bringing the best out of new staff

With greater clarity about what the business wanted from their new starters in regards to capability and understanding of the company’s products, processes and culture Joe created a new induction programme for new starters. This programme was supported by HR & senior management teams and was rolled out across the international offices to ensure consistency was achieved in how new starters were informed, inspired and included.
Improved people development

Joe worked with the HR department to re-design the company’s performance management system and processes. This lead to a greater focus on performance management and people development and senior managers were involved and trained in the process to ensure a consistent approach. The outcome of this work was improved staff satisfaction and performance results.

Improved training and coaching capability

Working with the senior management team Joe provided guidance and support with ideas and techniques of how to train and coach to improve the knowledge, skills and behaviours that had shown up as needing work from the gap assessment work done in each team.

WorldFirst view of Joe’s work

“Joe supported our senior management team in creating and rolling out a competency and performance management system to improve the way we brought staff into our international businesses, and continued to develop our staff. Our rapid and sustained growth means that communicating the culture and core skills of our team across the global organisation in a powerful and consistent way is crucial, and Joe was fantastic in being able to come in and understand what we are about, what we do and work this into a creative program that made a strong impact. In a short period of time he was able to understand the business and worked excellently with all of the stakeholders to ensure everyone bought into the process. We hope to work with Joe again the future and would highly recommend him to others.” Alex Sullivan, Chief Commercial Officer at World First.