FinTech North News and Regional FinTech Developments

Leeds Conference 2024 Write-Up

On Wednesday the 22nd of May, the Northern FinTech community came together to celebrate all things FinTech in West Yorkshire at Cloth Hall Court for their 9th annual Leeds Conference, hosted in partnership with brand sponsors Lenvi, Mastercard, Leeds Building Society, Data on Demand and Axiologik.

Thank you also, to our promotional partners, Galibier and Streets Consulting, our exhibitors, Leeds Trinity University, and our pre-conference event sponsors, Intercash, for their support and involvement.

For those who were unable to join, we have produced this write-up, capturing the key themes of the conference. We are currently processing the recording, and will add this to the write-up when it is ready. Check out the photo gallery here.

Across the day, despite rail disruptions, the conference saw fantastic engagement with a full room of 210 people at once, and nearly 250 delegates joining across the day. Virtual attendance saw over 300 people tune into the livestream across both YouTube and LinkedIn, with the conference reaching over 600 delegates in total.

After a vibrant breakfast networking session, delegates came together in the Herringbone Suite, where Joe Roche, FinTech North’s General Manager and Julian Wells, Director at Whitecap Consulting kicked off the morning with some welcomes, discussions of current work and plans, and reflection of the progress made over the years at past Leeds conferences.Christopher Sier, FinTech North’s Chairman then came on stage for a powerful and moving welcome address after some time away.

The next session was a fireside chat between Kris Foster, Co-Founder of Open Book and Project Nemo and Alexandra Greening, Neurodiversity Lead at Project Nemo, moderated by Rachel England, FinTech North’s Events Coordinator. The discussion followed Kris and Alexandra’s experiences and challenges with neurodiversity in the workplace and urged a shift in thinking to help increase diversity, inclusion and accessibility in FinTech and the workplace more broadly.

Following these opening sessions, the morning saw several national FinTech updates:

  • SuperTech West Midlands shared a presentation which contained National Network insights from their new ProfTech Research & Innovation roadmap. The talk was presented by Julian Wells, in Hilary Smyth-Allen’s (Executive Director of SuperTech West Midlands) absence.
  • Roisin Perry, FinTech Trade and Investment Manager at the Department of Business and Trade spoke on how DBT supports FinTechs to land, expand and thrive in the UK.
  • Ezechi Britton, CEO of CFIT, shared a pre-recorded keynote discussing their current initiatives with an ‘actions, not words’ focus driving their work forward.

Graham Self, Principal Enterprise Architect from Axiologik then presented a fascinating keynote focussing on the second wave of customer experience (CX) in banking, which has hyper-personalisation at its core.

After a mid-morning networking break, Peter Cunnane, Director of National and International Initiatives from Innovate Finance dialled in to virtually present a UK FinTech ecosystem sector update, as well as to share updates on their international and investment programmes.

Next, Liam Spence, Senior Vice President, Franchise Innovation from Mastercard and John Vardakis, PhD & Co-Founder of Leeds-based FinTech, Science Card came to the stage for a fireside chat discussing Science Cards’ work at the ‘Nexus’ of academia, financial services and FinTech, with a focus on ‘doing well by doing good.’

Will Lovell, Technology Advisor, CBDC, Data & Payments from the Bank of England, then joined virtually, for a keynote providing insights and updates about the Digital Pound’s current status, purpose, planned timeline, intended partnership model, impact aims and motivation revolving around financial inclusion, resilience and cross border payments.

Following this, Will Ellis, CRO of Lenvi presented findings from their recent Consumer Borrowing Report which showed a shift in attitudes and behaviour towards borrowing, which saw themes including vulnerability, friction and brand reputation as influential factors.

After a lively lunch networking session, delegates returned to the conference space for the first afternoon session, which had a scaling focus from several perspectives including:

  • Joe Parkin, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at FinTech Growth Fund, who after his recent trip to the Middle East, highlighted the global significance of UK FinTech, being in our top three biggest exports
  • James Nassiri, Business Development Manager at Data on Demand, who shared a perspective from a scaling FinTech in Leeds, as well as his own experience with graduate employment
  • Julian Wells, Director at Whitecap Consulting, presented the findings and recommendations following the publication of their recent Scaling UK FinTech Report, in collaboration with Streets Consulting and Innovate Finance.

As part of the scaling session, Julia Streets, Founder and CEO of Streets Consulting skillfully facilitated an energetic panel of industry experts who spoke on their views towards the report’s findings and individual experiences in successfully scaling. The panel consisted of:

  • Jordan Dargue, Co-Founder of Lifted Ventures
  • Macs Dickinson, Director of Engineering at LHV Bank
  • Muhamed Farooque, Founder and CEO of Excelledia
  • Richard Carter, Chief Executive at Lenvi

In response to Julia’s question about the most propelling factor in an organisations growth, Richard noted:

‘Fundamentally, talent. You’ve got to recruit people who are smarter than you…you’ve got to make sure that you look for diversity of opinion.’

Another panel followed the next networking break, this time, with a focus on FinTech North’s Skills mission and a variety of perspectives from education providers across the north. The panel, chaired by Joe Roche, consisted of:

Next, the afternoon saw a shift in focus to RegTech, where Mickael Paris, Marketing Director at FinTech Scotland shared some national network insights and initiatives, including the Financial Regulation Innovation Lab and related RegTech and ESG opportunities. This was followed by a RegTech-themed showcase, with lightning pitches from:

Christopher Sier then returned to the stage, with a call to action and advice for entrepreneurs based on his own experience, before handing over to Oliver Chesher, Managing Director at Galibier, to facilitate the Leeds-focussed showcase. The following speakers were featured:

As the conference drew to a close, delegates came together one more time for a networking drinks reception, discussing insights and continuing to celebrate the flourishing Leeds FinTech scene and all of the exciting developments taking place in the sector.

We’d like to extend a massive thank you to our brand sponsors, Lenvi, Mastercard, Leeds Building Society, Data on Demand and Axiologik, our promotional partners, Streets Consulting and Galibier, our exhibitors, Leeds Trinity University, our pre-conference event sponsors, Intercash, and all of our fantastic speakers for their time, participation and support.

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