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London is Open for FinTech Business - A summary of the first FinTech Influencers meeting on 2018

Toby Babb

The recent meeting of the FinTech Influencers (powered by Harrington Starr and the Realization Group) took place at the spectacular offices of Zopa by London Bridge. With over 125 of the most influential names in UK FinTech present, the topic of FinTech 2018 was discussed by an excellent panel consisting of:

 

Cathryn Lyall, Co-Founder Seismic Foundry

Ranzie Anthony, CCO, Athlon

Kathryn Harris, FinTech Mentoring Lead, Lloyds Banking Group

Amrit Kang, Business Growth Programme, London & Partners

Compered by Mike O’Hara (partner at The Realization Group), the panel boomed out a comprehensive message: London is Open for FinTech Business!

In this blog we’ll summarise some of the key points from the night.

2017 saw £1.3bn investment into London FinTech. Despite the looming threat of Brexit, the Capital remains the centre of the world for the sector with, as Cathy Lyall put it, “money and technology knowing no borders.” It is a hugely supportive eco system with the location making London a genuine hub for FS. Investors are looking at the UK as a thriving hub with a government in place who are prepared to back businesses looking to grow in the space. It was contentiously suggested on the night that the real threat to FinTech growth was not Brexit but a change of government! Both on the panel and later as discussions continued in networking, the overwhelming feel was that 2018 looks set to be an exceptional opportunity for growth and innovation in UK FinTech.

Support from incubators and accelerators and companies such as Seismic Foundry, recently co-founded by Lyall, have created a perfect storm for collaboration and growth. With both Lloyds Banking Group’s mentoring lead and London & Partners also on the panel, there was clear indications that the support is there to help so many of the FinTechs who have struggled for guidance in the past. Patience was urged with a warning that it will still take time, even with the support and guidance of a community, but an upbeat picture of collaboration to drive through proof of concepts was painted.

The panel continued to discuss the growing culture of innovation with UK FinTech. This had to, as Ranzie Anthony put it, start from the top of the organisation. The focus was on ensuring the right talent was freed to innovate and that thinking on the subject had benefitted from greater diversity and different thinking in the sector. Ethical thinking and leadership that had a focus on innovation would allow this to flourish. More to follow on this subject in our May event that will focus on Innovation in FinTech.

Perhaps inevitably, the conversation turned to Blockchain and the World of Crypto. With sentiment and valuations changing on a near continuous basis, it was interesting to hear an overwhelmingly cautious tone with Kathryn Harris diplomatically terming the sector “interesting.” Ranzie Anthony cited the race for trust with the importance of establishing trust quickly paramount to success. The panel did, however, universally agree that Blockchain as a technology was brilliant, urging the audience to “invest in the technology rather than the coin.” We shall wait and see how the market plays out.

The final words centred around advice from the panel. What to avoid and where to focus. Wisely the guidance was to focus on the customer and build the business first rather than to join the footrace for investment. Get the right team in early and really focus on getting things right before rushing for investment and losing sight of the here and now.  Amrit Kang spoke of the need for the right team and talent, the right marketing and branding, a solid sales plan and the appropriate funding, all things she and the team at London & Partners advise regularly on.

The final words fell to Cathy Lyall who urged patience and told people to “get real with the unrealistic expectations of how long things will take.” She gave the example of Mark Hemsley’s journey with BATS Chi-X and the ten-year road to get in the black. Now a staggering success, this was a case study for the fact that there is no overnight success in FS.

Finally, the evening saw the launch of the Financial Technologist Q1 edition. The magazine included the inaugural listing of The 100 Most Influential FinTech Companies of 2018. This list was judged by Harrington Starr alongside a panel of FinTech experts including; The Realization Group, EY, Baringa, The London Stock Exchange, Lloyds Banking Group, Seismic Foundry, Innovate Finance, London & Partners and CBPE Capital. You can see the judge’s top 20 picks alongside insight and articles from many of the winners here.

Our thanks go out to the excellent panel who set the tone for a bright year ahead for UK FinTech.

The FinTech Influencers is an invitation only, members club aimed at driving Growth and Innovation in UK FinTech. There are three annual meetings with the aim to create a network who can collaborate and work together to find solutions and opportunities in the market. For more information or to apply for complimentary membership, please either contact Toby Babb at Harrington Starr (toby.babb@harringtonstarr.com) or Colin Slight from the Realization Group (colin.slight@therealizationgroup.com).

A playlist of the evening can be found on the Harrington Starr TV YouTube channel here.

 

By Toby Babb