CEO update – July 2021
I hope this finds you healthy, well and enjoying your summer. As I reach the end of my second month as CEO of Innovate Finance, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on some of the important activities and priorities the team has been working on over the past few weeks, and also share some news about the exciting programmes we have in store for you in the near future. This will be the first in a series of regular updates from me, to ensure you are kept informed of key initiatives and news as we continue to work with our members, government, policymakers, regulators and the entire FinTech community to advance the financial innovation agenda.
Welcome to new members
Before updating you on our work, I first want to welcome and celebrate our newest members: Fidelity Strategic Ventures, Jumio, Radar Payments, Liberis, Laybuy, Sonovate, Zip, Monument, Privalgo, Point Group, Avione, Rise Technologies, KiyanPay, Divizend, Convex. We are so delighted that you have joined our fantastic Innovate Finance membership community, and we look forward to supporting you and engaging you across our activities.
Progressing our strategic priorities
Many of you will by now have heard me speak about my three priorities as CEO. I will be using this update - and future updates - to tell you how we are progressing in each area.
We are focused on We are focused on ensuring FinTech is recognised as a key soft and hard power tool for the UK and Global Britain. I have had numerous positive conversations over the past few weeks with various government departments, including the Prime Minister’s Business Unit, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for International Trade (DIT) and HM Treasury, all of which have affirmed their enthusiasm for our thriving FinTech sector. There has been a growing realisation of the important role the sector has played, and will continue to play, in helping us navigate through the pandemic and build back better. I was recently invited to join the Government’s Financial Services Brexit Business Task Force, chaired by ministers Lord Frost and John Glen MP, which focuses on regulatory opportunities for a competitive post-Brexit business environment. It was an ideal opportunity to emphasise the central role of financial innovation in promoting Global Britain as a force for good and sustainable economic development.
We continue to work towards and advocate for the timely delivery of the Kalifa Review recommendations, which are absolutely critical to ensuring the UK retains our competitive advantage as a global FinTech hub. We welcomed the Chancellor’s response to the Review during UK FinTech Week, and were pleased to see a further reiteration of government’s commitment to making the UK the international leader for open, competitive, green and technology-based financial services in his Mansion House speech yesterday morning.
Increasing investment into the ecosystem, and facilitating greater access to capital, will remain a core goal of our forward programmes and agenda at Innovate Finance. We have held several investor-startup speed dating sessions this past year already, and are pleased to see more than $40 million of deals resulting from these initial meetings. In addition, we will be releasing our UK FinTech investment numbers shortly for H1 2021 showing a new record of investment into UK FinTech, so watch this space.
We have also launched several new initiatives at Innovate Finance aimed at supporting UK FinTechs looking to scale abroad and international FinTechs looking to come to the UK, including our Scaling Series and our International Ambassador Programme.
Our work to support the development of the UK’s world-leading regulatory regime involves regular engagement with the Bank of England and the FCA. In June, we were delighted to welcome Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, at a meeting of our FinTech Strategy Group. We heard the Governor champion innovation, acknowledge the importance of alternative lenders, and explore the regulatory possibilities of the post-Brexit regime.
At the request of the FCA, we provided some initial thoughts on what the FinTech ‘Scalebox’ (a core recommendation of the Kalifa Review) might look like based on feedback from our members. We will continue sourcing and communicating this feedback to the FCA through future member roundtables.
At our most recent Policy Forum meeting, we were pleased to involve James Shafe, Head of the FCA’s Consumer & Retail Policy Division, who spoke to the group about Open Finance.
In addition, over the last few months we have been working with other industry bodies to develop a Digital ID scheme for the UK. The implementation of an effective digital identity infrastructure and trust framework will enable far greater access not just to public services but also banking, payments and digital services. It will better enable the provision of services to those who are at times excluded from the current system, and provide more efficient ways for consumers and businesses to access financial services.
We also ran an excellent meeting of the FinTech All-Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Adam Afriyie MP. In this session, we took a deeper dive into a selection of the key recommendations from the Kalifa Review and heard from FinTech companies on why they are so important.
We continue to champion the power of FinTech to improve the financial wellness of consumers and SMEs across the UK. We are excited to be launching a new flagship ‘FinTech as a Force for Good’ Summit this October, where we will examine how FinTech can act as an enabler to help solve some of the key issues currently facing society, including climate change, sustainability and financial inclusion, education and wellness. This event will bring together senior leaders from across the industry for a series of talks and deep-dive workshops and roundtables that produce tangible results and start to form a framework that enables the FinTech sector to develop robust tools for positive change.
Through our work with the 36H Group, we are working with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking on its inquiry into financing and capitalising the UK’s SMEs. In May, we held a roundtable with FinTech SME lenders with Kevin Hollinrake MP, to explore some of these issues further. We are also aggregating data around alternative lenders and CBILS and BBILS to showcase the powerful role FinTechs played in supporting SME’s through the COVID crisis.
Innovate Finance staff and people update
We were delighted to learn that Charlotte Crosswell, who was our brilliant CEO until May of this year, received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list - a well-deserved honour for Charlotte’s tireless work for the sector. I would also like to say a personal thank you to Charlotte for her four years of friendship and mentorship to me while I was her COO.
We also have a number of new faces joining us. We are thrilled that Louise Smith has been appointed Chair of Innovate Finance. Her energy is absolutely infectious, and she brings exceptional experience and insight to the role. I would like to extend a huge thank you to our outgoing chair, Natalie Ceeney, for her great support over the past four years and her massive contributions to the success of Innovate Finance. We are also very excited to welcome Yvonne Bajela, founding member and principal at Impact X Capital, as our newest Board Director. Yvonne has a breadth of expertise that will be invaluable to our work in supporting the FinTech startup and scaleup ecosystem.
In addition, we have made three new appointments to our executive team and staff: Adam Jackson joins us as Director of Policy, Sara Mottus is our new HR Director, and Neil Malcolm joins as Head of Sponsorship Sales. All bring a wealth of experience and I am so excited to welcome them to the amazing Innovate Finance team.
On that note, I would also like to thank two team members who left earlier this year, Caroline Vaughan and Iana Vidal, who both moved on to leadership positions at IF member companies. Caroline had been with Innovate Finance since our early days in 2015, and played a huge role in developing our ecosystem and flying the flag for UK FinTech globally. Iana was absolutely instrumental in the delivery of the Kalifa Review and in shaping our maturing policy priorities. I had the pleasure to work alongside and befriend both of these amazing women for several years, and I am excited to follow each of them as they continue to transform financial services for the better.
Programmes and events
As ever, we’ve had an incredibly busy programme of events over the past few weeks, including our ‘Spotlight On’ Series, Emerging Trends Roundtables, Policy Forums, Power Hours, and Partnerships Days. Our brilliant pitch competition, Pitch360, is running at the moment - good luck to all the startups taking part. In June, we launched Series 2 of our popular podcast series, Coffee with Innovate Finance.
We are also excited to be working with Women Returners to launch a UK FinTech Cross-Company Returners Programme. The aim of the programme is to bring experienced tech and financial services professionals who have taken extended career breaks for childcare, eldercare or other reasons into FinTech. This will help FinTech employers to achieve the sector goal of increasing diversity at mid to senior levels: gender, age and experience.
We have a busy calendar of upcoming programmes over the next few months, and are looking forward to having you join us. In July, look out for an International Scaling Series session focused on Australia, and a Spotlight Event on consumer money management, with our next Investor Office Hours and a Scaling Series session on the US set for early September. We will also be celebrating Innovate Finance’s seventh birthday in August!
Our 2021 Women in FinTech Powerlist Applications will open in the autumn, and we will be releasing further information about IFGS and UK FinTech Week 2022 soon. We are hoping to be running physical and hybrid events come September, and we are so excited to see all of you again in-person, and also meet some of the new faces in our membership community.
I, for one, can’t wait to be in the same room again with all the inspirational, passionate individuals that make up our ecosystem.