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Innovate Finance Update from The Conservative Party Conference 2019

Last week, we attended the Labour conference. This week, Innovate Finance was in Manchester, representing the FinTech sector at the Conservative Party Conference.

The conference culminated with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, highlighting the success of UK FinTech in his speech, celebrating London overtaking New York as the number one city for investment in fintech firms.

Over the course of the previous two days, CEO, Charlotte Crosswell, and Director of Strategy, Ali Griffiths, were invited to participate in a range of roundtables, panels, and receptions and dinners, organised by City of London Corporation, the think tanks Onward and Policy Exchange, the Financial Inclusion Commission, and corporate affairs firm, Cicero.

Fears that the unexpected return of Parliament the previous week may have impacted the number of MPs and ministers in attendance were unfounded for our sector. We had productive conversations with Brexit Secretary of State, Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP; Number 10 business advisor, James Sproule; Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and City Minister, John Glen MP; Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman MP (together, these last two ministers are also responsible for the financial inclusion); Bim Afolami MP, Chair of the Financial Inclusion Commission;  and the Metro Mayor for Teeside, Ben Houchen.

The topics we contributed to included ranged from “Supporting Global Britain: the strength of UK financial services post-Brexit”; tech solutions to financial inclusion; creating economic growth in the North of England; and how payments technology can help financial inclusion and boost small business.

John Glen MP reminded one roundtable that financial services contributes 11% of UK tax revenues, making it critical that everything possible is done to ensure the minimum disruption for the sector through Brexit, with a deal or without one. We were pleased to see our key messages resonating: John Glen mentioned his understanding of the need for visa changes to make hiring easier for faster high growth businesses; helping to incentivise staff in growing companies with share options; and also of his personal passion for the promoting financial inclusion through FinTech.

Meanwhile, at a Policy Exchange panel discussion, we made the case for encouraging greater investment in FinTech outside London, a point we also made directly to John Glen.

Outside the conference hall and the fringes, there was much discussion on the timing of an election, and of, of course, of Brexit. We’ll be watching developments closely over the coming weeks, and supporting our members.