Want to Know What the Future Holds? FinTech North at Innovate Finance Global Summit
admin / 22nd March 2018
IFGS2018 – review by Georgina Mitchell, of rebuildingsociety.com, InvestUp, and FinTech North
Want to know what the future holds? Let’s first take a journey into the past…
In one of The City’s most historic settings, the London Guildhall, the Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) 2018 prepared to set out what the future may hold for FinTech. Where once people gathered in the Great Hall to watch Queens and Archbishops being tried for treason, several hundred sat to hear pitches from start-up artificial intelligence firms. In the Crypt and old Library, amidst the stained glass and stone arches, entrepreneurs, investors and established players exchanged experiences and knowledge.
Julian Wells welcomed Stephen Ingledew and Mickael Paris from FinTech Scotland to the FinTech North stand. Carlos Gomez from the DIT asked the FinTech North team if they could be interviewed by a Mexican journalist travelling with a delegation of Latin American companies who are due to visit the FinTech North event on 23rd March in Leeds. Ross Mumford of the CBI dropped by to discuss the FinTech North conferences in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool later in the year.
But what did we learn about what the future may hold?
Firstly, collaboration is key. It was a theme running throughout for its lead into creativity and debate, rather than heading down the survival of the fittest route of pure competition.
Unfortunately, it seems the age old problem of gender parity has not been solved in that future. Research was presented showing that women in the same role and with the same experience as their male counterparts are paid up to 40% less. This has to change.
Artificial Intelligence is on the rise. I heard it said that “there is nothing a human can do that AI won’t be able to do better by the middle of the century”. Whether this was a good or a bad thing depended on your view of whether mankind could maintain a quality of life if work was replaced by machines.
A simulation of a cybercrime attack for a fictional business, which you are in charge of, prompted the question any CEO or business owner hopes they will never have to face…’Would you pay the ransom?’ Asked repeatedly during an initial period of slow-running of your website, then again as it is taken down and again as the firm’s operating systems are taken offline, you question the decisioning and reasoning behind your first choice. An understanding of the trends and defence techniques is key to being able to handle a real life scenario.
A Spotlight on Regional FinTech
But for FinTech North, the highlight was the lively and positive discussions, both on a round table and panel debate, about the future of FinTech in the regions. Hosted by Julian Wells, with contributions from Andrew Toolan of Midas in Manchester and Chris Sier, The Treasury’s FinTech Envoy to the UK and panel appearances from Jeremy Coupland, a regional specialist from the DIT and Kate Evans of Business Birmingham, the aim was to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by FinTech clusters outside of the capital.
The overwhelming consensus was that regional offerings are differentiated from those in the City.
Just as diversity in the board room steers away from group think, London start-ups risk suffering from the same influences and same ways of thinking that lead to more of the same ideas. The concept of cultural assimilation in densely populated London start up communities was laughed at as though a joke, but with a serious undertone.
In the regions, local specialisms develop local areas of expertise that produce supply chains of related FinTech companies. It was also commented that regional firms have more of a social inclusion focus, as opposed to pure growth, and this is something we would not wish to lose sight of.
The benefits of educated talent pools was considered important, especially to locally grown firms, but of greater importance to those from outside of the regions looking for the best place to locate was the potential customer base. Populous corridors such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Central belt of Scotland have this customer base, but the regions must put their best foot forward in presenting themselves to these investors. This is where events such as FinTech North are key, to enable firms to showcase themselves and put them in front of groups of potential customers and gauge their reactions.
The venues for FinTech North’s conferences in Leeds (26th April), Manchester (22nd May) and Liverpool (12th June) may not have 800 years of history behind them, but the events will certainly aim to emulate the buzz, the opportunities and the showcasing of our local offerings that we saw on a global scale at IFGS2018.