FinTech North Leeds Conference 2022: Re-Cap and Re-Watch
Ryan Walsh / 17th March 2022
On the 17th of March, we welcomed over 150 delegates from the Northern FinTech community to aql‘s impressive Salem Chapel. It was great to see some new and familiar faces at our first physical event in the city since 2019. A huge thank you to our sponsors; TruNarrative, LION+MASON, Leeds City Council, Unblu and Squire Patton Boggs for their support and making the event happen. It proved to be an insightful and valuable day for all delegates.
We’d like to thank:
Brad and the A/V team from Bradley JP Productions who provided the livestream, amazing visuals and ensured technological logistics on the day ran smoothly. You can find them across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social medias – @bradleyjpproductions.
Our brilliant catering team on the day; a Leeds based social enterprise SHINE. They provided delegates with food and refreshments throughout the day as well as a drinks reception at the end of the conference. Their website can be found here.
And finally; our brilliant speakers for their contribution and the FinTech North community for their involvement, support and dedication in growing the FinTech community in the North.
For the benefit of the community, we have produced a write-up of the entire day as well as a recording of the event embed below. To view the video, click below. To read the write-up, continue scrolling.
Joe Roche, Engagement Manager, FinTech North kicked off proceedings, introducing FinTech North and the work that we do in facilitating the FinTech community. He then passed the torch onto Julian Wells, Founder of Whitecap Consulting – who introduced Whitecap and gave opening remarks.
Christopher Sier, FinTech Envoy Hm Treasury and Chair of FinTech North introduced aql, and the iconic Salem Chapel – reminding delegates of the nexus of communication underneath the glass floor. He gave praise to Professor Adam Beaumont and aql for hosting the event. We can second that! Christopher chaired the event throughout the day.
Sir Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of NP11 joined us to reflect on the huge success and potential of FinTech in the Leeds city region and reiterates that if the North of England was a country, it would be in the top 25 global economies.
Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer Culture and Economy, Leeds City Council joined us to discuss her role in the city and recent developments in the financial landscape. She went on to say that “Leeds has lots to be proud of: not least the new Centre for Green Finance at The University of Leeds, the home of the UK Infrastructure Bank and the Bank of England as well as the FCAs recent move to the city.
John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, joined us virtually with a pre-recorded address. John raved about the present FinTech sector and it’s excited future. He reports that UK FinTech attracted a record £9.7bn last year – more than any country outside the US.
We were then joined by Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer Culture and Economy, Leeds City Council; Paul Mount, Deputy Agent Yorkshire and the Humber, Bank of England; Peter Cunnane, Director of International and National Initiatives at Innovate Finance; Mickael Paris, Marketing Director, FinTech Scotland and David Henderson, Strategic Advisor, FinTech West for our first panel discussion. Delegates were treated to an interactive discourse surrounding National Connectivity.
Peter Cunnane, chimed in with some insight. “What we’re seeing is a cross pollination across the sector that we haven’t seen before. And it’s not just London and the South East – it’s the depth of the sector, in cities and towns around the UK where FinTech is taking root.”
Mickael Paris outlined the growing success of FinTech in Scotland. “We’re focusing on four key themes: open finance, payment, reg climate, and tech. If you look at these themes in terms of verticals, Scotland is doing very well on FinTech for good”
Reflecting on the regionalisation of FinTech, Eve Roodhouse encouraged delegates to be passionate about what we’re doing locally but believing in the power of collaboration. “Use London if that’s what people recognise internationally, but use it as a gateway into the regions!”
Amy Lee, Head of FinTech Hub from the Bank of England was up next, and joined us to provide an update on the UK FinTech sector and the Bank of England’s involvement.
She compares the Hub’s role in nurturing FinTechs to looking after houseplants: if you take the right plant (or FinTech) in the right conditions, you’ll be able to grow it and propagate new ones.
“The safe adoption of new tech is a key strand of the Bank of England‘s FinTech work. AI is one area we’re focusing on. Together with the FCA, we’ve founded the AI Public-Private Forum to deepen collective understanding of the technology – both benefits & risks”
Andy Curry, UX Director of our sponsors, LION+MASON joined us to discuss how businesses often fall into traps of keeping pace with competitors and disruption for sake of disruption, instead of focusing on user centred design – which is key for shaping better FinTechs.
“To avoid those traps, FinTechs should ask themselves four key questions: who are my users, how do I find them, how do I generate insight and how do I then use that insight?”
Following a short networking break, Gihan Hyde, CEO & Founder, CommUnique chaired our next panel. It covered the potential for FinTech to aid in sustainability – specifically “Can FinTech save people and planet?”.
On the panel, were Dan Graf, Co-Founder, Earth Chain; Peter Kirby, Co-Founder, Tred; Georgina Mitchell, Founder, Wellhouse Consulting and Giles Harridge, Co-founder, Auden.
Georgina Mitchell – Founder, Wellhouse Consulting
“A huge amount of work goes into becoming a sustainable business. If you’re just doing it for the badge, you’re going to fail. Clients who want to achieve this live and breathe ESG”
Dan Graf, Co-Founder, Earth Chain
“Businesses should offer employees pensions that are investing into the right things, support homeworkers with renewable energy subventions, and offer EV leases on salary sacrifice for those who need a vehicle”
Peter Kirby, Co-Founder, Tred
“1/3 people in the UK buy sustainable brands. What we want to do at Tred is inform consumers and help them to make tactical choices to contextualise the problem and avoid disengagement”
Next up was Annette Joseph, Founder of Diverse and Equal and Sarah Tulip, Head of Digital Transformation at BJSS who presented the findings from the Racial Diversity in Digital Leeds report.
Firstly, Sarah delivered an insight into the potential financial positives of diversity in Digital organisations. Research from the report suggests that ethnically diverse and inclusive organisations are 35% more profitable and diverse teams are 50% more innovative.
The potential benefit to the UK from full representation of BME individuals across the labour market equates to £24 billion pounds.
Annette walked us through the research that went into the report. The term “BAME” was not recognised as the correct term in the process as people of colour experience life very differently depending on ethnicity, background, socio-economic status and stereotypes.
Based off of their research, they found nuanced, intertwined, interlinking patterns of cause and effect.
Annette then presented a recommendation (1/9) informed by the report. She discussed the difference between covert and overt racism, encouraging delegates to re-think the term ‘racism’.
“Racism is simply prejudice with power. It’s not good vs bad people. Being addressed about doing something racist is NOT an attack on character.”
Annette implored delegates to “take the charge out of the word ‘RACISM’ so we can have open dialogue. Because, nothing ever changes if it’s not discussed.”
We’d highly recommend checking out the report for yourself, the link for this can be found here.
Next up, our final panel discussed Talent & Culture. It featured the aforementioned Annette Joseph, Founder of Diverse and Equal and Sarah Tulip, Head of Digital Transformation, BJSS as well as Amul Batra, Northcoders; Jess Sewter, Partnerships Director, Generation UK and Sue Murdoch, Chief People Officer, Bank North.
Amul Batra, Northcoders:
“The thing that businesses need to learn and understand is if they don’t have a strategy to bring junior people in, they wont have senior people tomorrow. If you take people from bootcamps, you could have mid level people with you in a year.”
Jess Sewter, Partnerships Director, Generation
“If we want to diversify, you can’t do this alone.”
She talks about regional cooperation and synergy between Generation and employers to support people move from unemployment to employment.
Sarah Tulip, Head of Digital Transformation, BJSS
“As a leader, you make the decision on whether you want to invest in a diverse work culture or not.” With the current difficulty in sourcing talent, says it’s crucial for candidates to feel represented in a company when they make a decision.”
Sue Murdoch, Chief People Officer, Bank North
“There are two prominent questions candidates are asking at the moment: 1) can you describe your culture to me? 2) what is the evidence to support that?”
Anna Sutton, Co-Founder, The Data Shed
“There needs to be more focus on capability rather than qualifications. I never focus on the quals section of a CV. I don’t care if someone has a degree or not, as long as they can do the job. That takes a big blocker out the way.”
Annette Joseph, Co-Founder, Diverse and Equal
“Focusing on ethnic diversity can help companies address social mobility” and leveling the playing field in the workplace.”
“We need to get comfortable with talking about racism”
Following another networking break; Olivia Minnock, Editor for the FinTech Alliance discussed the UK investment scene, which steps the FinTech Alliance is taking to make sure the funding gap is addressed as well as their investment series.
She claims that “access to investment in 2022, remains a problem”. She encourages FinTechs from all corners of the UK to join the FinTech Alliance investment series, which – for the first time – will have a regional focus,
More information on their investment series can be found here.
Josh Davies, Product Manager, Alert Logic joined us next to discuss global cybersecurity in today’s environment.
The Ukraine Russian conflict formed the basis for the majority of the segment. Josh went on to explain the potential actions and consequences
He shared a statement from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which suggests that they are not aware of any current specific threats to UK organisations in relation to the events in and around Ukraine. However, there has been cyber attacks against Ukraine in light of recent developments. For example, potentially state sponsored threat actors exploiting known vulnerabilities.
Josh covered how you address such risks; to solve the vulnerability problems that 60% of organisations suffer. He suggested a holistic approach to security; “it’s a constant journey” and laid out 4 key points on how to accomplish this:
- Breadth of detection
- People, process and tools
- Layers of defence
- Addressing the entire kill chain
The final segment was our trademark Leeds FinTech Showcase, sponsored by Alert Logic, featuring a mix of 15 start-ups and established FinTech companies in the Leeds city region. To find out more about each company, you can find their website through the hyperlinks below:
- TruNarrative – Edward Vaughan, Head of Banking
- WAC – George Fairhall, Founder and CEO
- Paperound, Jake Fox, Founder
- Answer Pay – Ismail Bana, Head of Engineering
- ScribePay – Delphine Emenyonu, Founder
- Behind Log-In – Oliver Lane, Founder
- Curveblock – Gary Woodhead, CEO
- The Data Shed – James Mackenzie, Principal Consultant
- Bank North – Becky Owen, Managing Director NW
- Tech Passport – Daniel De Wolf, Strategy Lead
- PrinSIX Technologies – Julian Graham-Rack, Founder
The PrinSIX platform allows organisations to orchestrate high performance customer journeys. Our platform transforms customer engagement in businesses with digital online and offline customer journeys. This particularly applies where businesses must understand their customers before serving them. This need for understanding is driven by the need to mitigate risk – regulatory risk, fraud and commercial risk, the risk of providing unsuitable or inappropriate products, for instance.
- Swoop – Andrea Reynolds, Founder
- Equifax – Andy Sacre, Director of Product, Banking, Decisioning and Analytics
- Spark – Eric Guo, Founder
- CPP Group – Jo Davies, Head of Brand, Communications and Research
To bring the event to a close, the Northern FinTech community indulged in some drinks over some more networking.
The FinTech North Leeds Conference was sponsored by TruNarrative, aql, Unblu, Leeds City Council, LION+MASON Alert Logic and Squire Patton Boggs.
For any speaker, sponsor or general enquiries, please contact FinTech North Engagement Manager Joe Roche.