POLITICO Pro Morning Exchange

Written by Matei Rosca, Finance Reporter, POLITICO on 26/08/19

The U.K.’s financial-technology industry is in a good position to overcome a no-deal Brexit, reckoned Charlotte Crosswell, Chief Executive at Innovate Finance, the industry association that supports both corporations and startups while lobbying on their behalf.

“We are very confident that the U.K. will remain Europe’s fintech capital. The UK fintech sector is actually attracting investment at a record rate,” Crosswell said in an interview with M.E. in her office in Broadgate, London. She pointed to her own organization’s figures showing members raising $2.9 billion in the first six months of 2019, half from overseas.

“There is no slowdown in the pace of entrepreneurship within the UK fintech space. Fintech founders will not halt their business as their ambitions haven’t changed,” she added. Still, she acknowledged that “the climate of uncertainty is certainly frustrating for them.”

But Crosswell also has some policy demands from the new regime in 10 Downing Street, which she argues should help fintech thrive in the long run.

High-skilled immigration: The government would do well to tweak post-study work visas for foreign students and the hard minimum of £30,000 in pay for incoming workers, she said. “Startups based in other budding hubs such as Manchester, Leeds and beyond will have different wage thresholds” than London, Crosswell said.

In some cases fresh graduates who wish to stay in the U.K. are forced to leave and reapply for a visa from their home countries. “Post-study work visas need to provide the opportunity for talent honed in the U.K. to remain here in order to ensure the fintech sector remains diverse and robust,” Crosswell said.

Furthermore, Crosswell added her voice to the growing choir demanding a fast-track visa system for tech experts. Otherwise, she warned, more and more jobs that could remain in the U.K. will be outsourced abroad.

“Growing fintech companies base themselves in areas where they can access and hire the best talent quickly and easily,” she said. “Allowing fast-track visas for highly-skilled workers in the fintech sector would be a welcome initiative.”

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