Charlotte Crosswell Opening Address at the Innovate Finance Global Summit 2019
Good morning, and welcome to the Innovate Finance Global Summit 2019 and the start of UK FinTech Week.
This is the 5th annual Global Summit and the pace at which FinTech has evolved in that time is truly phenomenal. It is more important than ever to reflect on the success of the sector and commit to supporting its future.
FinTech is a global movement for innovation in financial services. Its goal is to harness the power of finance and technology to enable people and businesses to thrive. Over the next 20 years, I anticipate the innovative approaches that FinTech is bringing will be embedded in every part of financial and professional services and that all of financial services will be ‘FinTech’. FinTech will have fundamentally changed the way the sector works.
The digital revolution has provided technology solutions to age-old and brand-new problems – from efficiency and reliability to transparency and usability. Financial products and services have entered the agile age. It is no longer acceptable to see digital as a nice-to-have – it is a must have for the modern world. And the modern business.
But it is equally, if not more important, for innovation to empower those at the fringes of our economy and society, or those who believe financial wellness and stability is an unreachable goal. Technology and digital transformation have the power to go beyond enhancing our business and consumer markets, and reach across society to provide real opportunities for people to improve their lives.
Therefore, the theme of this year’s Global Summit is FinTech’s Value and Purpose to society. I firmly believe the sector has a vital role to play in assisting those who otherwise may be excluded from the financial system.
Every company working in FinTech, from the early-stage startup to the large corporate, has a part to play in improving the way our financial system operates. FinTech is a sector which places entrepreneurship at its heart. We would be nothing without the people driving innovation and inspiring the next generation to leave the world better than they found it.
There are currently 1.3 million unbanked working adults in the UK, 10% of households are still without access to the internet and 30% of people over 65 have never used a computer. Globally, the challenges of financial inclusion, wellness and literacy are felt across societies and economies. Whether it is banking the unbanked, highlighting affordable credit solutions or providing SME loans, these are meaningful and purposeful aspects of delivering the future we all deserve. FinTech has solved some of the most challenging problems facing consumers and businesses today. But we must push ourselves to go further.
Perhaps we need to look more to the developing world such as Africa, who have become leaders in mobile payments and money accounts, or the progress that India has made with Aadhaar and the India Stack, where they began to solve the problem of the unbanked for 1 billion people with a system of unique identification numbers.
The UK FinTech ecosystem has all the key elements for a world-leading environment where FinTech can thrive, with startups, entrepreneurs and technological innovation in abundance. It boasts the highest consumer FinTech adoption rate of any western country and behind only China and India globally. We have over 15 international delegations joining us today showing the attractiveness of the UK. We have one of the most progressive regulators – collaborating globally with other key markets to ensure innovation happens on both a domestic and global level. While political uncertainty continues, it is important to recognise that the UK government has championed, and continues to support, innovation and investment.
The UK is a market with significant investment appetite. In 2018, the UK had its best year yet in terms of FinTech investment, with over $3.3 billion, from private equity and VC investment alone. This puts the UK third only to China and the US, and a dominating force in Europe. Indeed, some of our members here in the room today, such as OakNorth, Iwoca, Starling Bank, GoCardless, Comply Advantage and Bud have raised significant capital in Q1 already this year. In addition, corporate venture capital investment and IPO activity continues to increase in the sector.
Our Capital and Investment Programme this year will connect our members to the right investors, educate them on the capital journey, highlight to those investors the innovation taking place amongst our FinTech members, and provide key insights on the current state of the landscape.
The UK has long been held as a global hub of FinTech and we will continue to work with ecosystems across the world, connecting international and national organisations.
While collaborating internationally is critical in these volatile times, we should also ensure FinTech innovation is recognised across the UK. London continues to be the dominant centre for FinTech. However, two-thirds of employment in the financial and professional services industry is located outside of London and momentum is therefore growing within the UK’s national FinTech scene. There are many hubs in the UK where innovators are setting up and growing – Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds and Bristol – to name but a few.
That is why we have today launched a FinTech National Network with FinTech North and FinTech Scotland to raise the sector’s awareness, profile and engagement across the country. We will look to promote mutual connections and work together with hubs across the country to ensure the growth of our collective networks in support of UK FinTech.
At the heart of FinTech are the entrepreneurs responding to the demand for innovation. Startups are the life-blood of the sector and are driving the digital economy forward. The ecosystem is driving innovation in our large financial institutions – banks, asset managers and insurers, who are in turn embracing the digital age and rising to the challenge, collaborating more and more with startups and partners.
But this shift toward collaboration can also highlight the friction caused by different ways of working and cultural differences.
The importance of company culture and value-sets is now more important than ever to prospective employees and customers. By 2020, millennials are forecast to make up 35% of the global workforce and are the generation sought after by corporations and startups alike. Aspects like flexible working hours, work-life balance, diverse workforces and brand identity are all becoming fundamental to attracting and retaining talent – and growing customer pipelines. However, there is still much to do. While FinTechs have the enviable cool-factor, they will continue to face the challenge of scaling effectively and responsibly.
Diversity has rightly become one of the most crucial areas for improvement in financial services and FinTech. It has been shown that it is 35% more likely for firms to have higher profitability if they are in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity.
Only 17% of senior executives in UK FinTech are female, and financial services continues to be one of the worst industries for equal pay. In 2018, female-led startups received only 3% of total available funding in the UK. We need to develop more programmes, funds and opportunities to support and channel diverse talent. There are incredibly talented women in FinTech: our annual Women in FinTech Powerlist received an unprecedented response, and this year 40% of our speakers at this conference are female.
And it is not just about gender diversity. New product development requires diverse ideas, and people from different backgrounds. FinTech and financial services cannot continue to push boundaries if we do not widen the talent pools, enhance recruitment practices and educate from an earlier age and retrain our teams through the digital revolution.
The UK is a global centre for talent, with over 100,000 FinTech employees and 3,200 FinTech firms predicted by 2030. Recruitment – especially in technology and data science focussed roles – remains a priority for many businesses seeking to expand. I am delighted to announce that Innovate Finance has launched a FinTech Jobs Board – a dedicated online resource to promote job vacancies, reaching into schools and universities and promoting FinTech opportunities across the country.
We must also inspire the next generation. FinTech should be a force for good in educating young people to see the importance of finance in their lives as future users of FinTech, as well as a viable career choice. We should be teaching about savings and investments, affordable credit, loans, taxes and mortgages, as well as encouraging the next generation of innovators.
That is why we have created a FinTech for Schools campaign to help young people understand how to use FinTech, how to work in it and how to influence the future of finance. We now welcome cross-party support for our initiative.
FinTech is a fast-moving and ever-changing sector. The future of finance is tantalisingly close and we have seen developments which would have been unthinkable only a few short years ago. With BigTech also entering finance, there will no doubt be ongoing debate over how data is becoming more embedded in our everyday lives. Consumers are now better educated about data collection and storage and they are becoming increasingly concerned about privacy and potential security breaches. We need to think carefully about ethics and legal requirements in today’s world of constantly flowing and shared data. It will be fascinating to see where we will be 5 years from today’s Global Summit.
Finally, bringing us back to the present, this event wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors and partners. From the ongoing support we get throughout the year from City of London Corporation and Broadgate, and to all our sponsors, especially our platinum sponsor, Deloitte.
It is our role at Innovate Finance, as the industry body and independent member association for FinTech in the UK, to champion the importance and value of the sector.
Thank you to all our members, without whose input and support we wouldn’t be able to represent such an important sector for the UK. I am privileged to work with such industry leaders every day. I’m confident UK FinTech week will be a phenomenal showcase of UK innovation and I wish you all a very productive and successful Summit.
It is my pleasure to now hand over to the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney. Having taken up his role in 2013 and, after twice extending his tenure, he will be stepping down in January next year. I think we can all agree that his steady hand has helped to steer the UK economy through some challenging times! Please join me in welcoming him to the stage.