Accelerating the West Midlands’ tech revolution in professional services
- A collaboration between the West Midlands’ largest and most well-established businesses and emerging tech firms aims to accelerate a technology revolution in professional services.
Generating £27.8 billion gross value added annually, and employing more than 360,000 people, the West Midlands is the UK’s largest centre for business, professional and financial services (BPFS) outside London.
Now, business leaders from Shoosmiths, Wesleyan, Bruntwood, CBRE and Birmingham Law Society, amongst others, are working with the region’s just under 12,500 leading tech and digital companies to see how they can integrate AI and advanced technology into their everyday activities.
SuperTech – the first professional services technology (ProfTech) supercluster in the UK – aims to increase technology-led productivity gains within business and professional services organisations. Eight industry leaders from finance, law, property and technology have been chosen to head up SuperTech including David Stewart, Group Chief Operating Officer at Wesleyan, Tony Randle, Partner at Shoosmiths, Simon Davis CEO of Nimbus Maps along with Inez Brown, president of Birmingham Law Society.
David Stewart, Group Chief Operating Officer at Wesleyan and co-lead for the finance cluster within SuperTech, said: “ProfTech, like FinTech, is an emerging sector with enormous potential to scale. Having undertaken a number of studies into FinTech, which in just a few short years is now worth £411.7 million per annum to the West Midlands economy, we’ve identified three ways in which we can facilitate growth – access to businesses, access to technology and access to talented people.
“SuperTech combines all three, by connecting technology firms with the major professional services businesses we have across the region.
David continued: “For established organisations like ourselves, involvement in SuperTech gives us access to the region’s emerging tech talent and latest developments, while tech firms, whether focused on finance, property, law or insurance, can find new ways to solve business issues and gain direct access to a sector that is worth almost £28bn – 26.5% of the total regional economy.”
SuperTech will also encourage those who have developed solutions for finance and other sectors to consider how they might be able to adapt and open up markets in property, law and insurance with direct access to West Midland businesses in all fields.
Simon Davis, CEO of Nimbus Maps in Warwick which is revolutionising how property investors buy and develop sites and is one of four PropTech leads, observed: “The SuperTech collaboration is unique in taking this integrated approach which reflects the group’s fundamental beliefs that there is much to be gained in sharing intelligence and practice between professional silos.”
Inez Brown, president of Birmingham Law Society and one of two legal leads on the SuperTech programme alongside Tony Randle of Shoosmiths, said: “Birmingham has a deep-rooted heritage in legal and professional services, which if leveraged successfully through tech, gives the UK a major competitive advantage in emerging industries of tomorrow.
“Being part of SuperTech allows us to ensure that it is not just the largest legal businesses that are able to integrate tech into their operation but all firms.”
Tony Randle, partner at Shoosmiths and LawTech lead for SuperTech, added: “If you look at where the investment is going in law, it is centred towards “New Law” businesses that are able to leverage technology to improve and automate processes. Massive change is coming, and tech is going to play a crucial role in determining whether law firms thrive or fail. At Shoosmiths we are very firmly standing behind SuperTech in supporting its goal of promoting much greater integration of technology in law and the wider professional services community.”
In a further move to support the growth of professional services technology in the region, a partnership between the Investment Association and Wesleyan has established Europe’s largest asset management FinTech hub, The Engine Room, in Birmingham.
Box out: Five key ProfTech stats:
The region is home to more than 53,000 Business, Professional and Financial Services (BPFS) companies employing 358,200 people, making it the most significant business hub outside of London. (ONS)
Generating £28 billion GVA annually, BPFS represents the region’s largest sector, responsible for 26.5% of the West Midlands economy. (State of the region report)
The West Midlands is home to the largest regional tech and digital cluster outside of London with 72,700 people employed across 12,550 tech and digital companies. (ONS)
The region’s newly established FinTech sector boasts 122 companies employing around 7,375 people, 46% of which are classified as scaleups. (West Midlands FinTech ecosystem report 2020)
The West Midlands’ 12 universities contain 50 tech-related centres of excellence and deliver over 66,000 graduates every year. (HESA).