Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – 100 Days and Counting…

Well, that’s nearly one hundred days in the role heading up FinTech Scotland since the start of the year.

Infact, it is a bit more than one hundred if you include the weekend days that have been necessary to keep on top of the high level of engagement email and social media traffic!

This first four months can best be summed up as being positively inspiring and diverse and the last fourteen days have continued along these lines with a broad range of engagements focused on taking forward Scotland’s fintech opportunities.

Innovation Days

Our roundtable meeting in Fife with the local fintech community on Tuesday was a great example of how the innovation heritage in Scotland provides a valuable foundation for future fintech developments.

It was an insightful and engaging session for Mickael and myself in the Glenrothes Enterprise Hub with a good part of the discussion focused on the need to improve skills and talent development in the sector if we are to embrace the payment fintech opportunities ahead.

A big thank you to Iain Shirlaw for his fantastic leadership and energy in making the event happen and it was great to session from the Glenrothes local Ian Cunningham on the brilliant LendingCrowd business.

The previous day it was an opportunity to catch up with Professor Chris Speed and the Edinburgh College of Arts team on how we could work together to help the sector innovate and reimagine a new financial services world. So much potential around using data to drive innovation with a strong social purpose.

Embracing the open banking opportunity is one example of this and I am very excited about our emerging plans for the Centre of Excellence we’ve been developing with Ross Laurie and Gavin Littlejohn. Scotland’s innovative fintech firms are very much embracing this and looking forward to sharing more on this strategy at the Meet Up in a couple of weeks.

Strategic Days

Wednesday was my opportunity to share the open banking and the broader FinTech Scotland strategic plans with the quarterly Financial Services Advisory Board jointly chaired by Scotland’s First Minister and Jim Pettigrew, the chair of SFE and CYBG.

As we reach 100 days since launch, this meeting was an important milestone for FinTech Scotland in sharing the two year strategic plans with Government Ministers and senior figures from across financial services sector.

I came away hugely encouraged by the enthusiastic and collaborative support from all in attendance at the Board, especially for the confirmation of the inaugural chair and strategic partners for FinTech Scotland (See here for more)

There was certainly a commitment to making fintech a major success in Scotland and achieving a top five global status with a focus on data driven innovation combined with strong social purpose and outcomes.

This valuable Scottish Government and industry support was also mirrored in conversations during this last fortnight with very insightful Councilor Lezley Cameron as well as Paul Lawrence at Edinburgh City Council.

Hearing the exciting strategic plans for the City along with the ambition of the University of Edinburgh from Hugh Edmiston and Gordon Donald further demonstrated to me the opportunity for fintech to contribute to a broader thriving economy.

It further highlighted to me that the joint team efforts of the public sector, academia and private sector can really make a difference in making a strategy come alive for all to benefit and a shared focus on inclusive growth initiatives.

Collaboration Days

Of course, this requires everybody being focused on how we improve collaboration, and, in this respect, it was great to host the team from Blenheim Chalcott on how we could work together to create the right innovation environments for fintechs to scale and grow.

Very much looking forward to taking forward the ideas and initiatives that Mark Sanders and the team have to help exciting businesses such as Myles Stephenson’s Modulr continue to expand in Scotland.

This reinforces that collaboration needs to go beyond the financial services sector itself and it was great to catch up last week with Liz McAreavey, Chief Executive at the Edinburgh Chambers of Commerce.

Looking forward to further working with Liz on bringing alive the data driven innovation opportunities across the region through fintech with a diverse range of participants.

During this first one hundred days of FinTech Scotland, the collaborative support from the Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International teams has been immensely valuable.

I’ve very much appreciated the ongoing day to day collaboration from Sharon Hamilton, Graeme Rennsion and wider SE team as we consider the practical steps to improve fintech opportunities, for example, by making the network of services more integrated and creating good physical environments for collaboration.

Days talking about collaboration also require a global perspective and so it was wonderful to meet up with David Clarke to talk through the exciting Scottish-Irish Finance Initiative event in June.

Certainly looking forward to this and discussing how it will reinforce the mutual opportunities across the Irish Sea collaboration bridge for fintechs and the wider economy.

People Days

Of course, collaboration is all about people and an exciting part of the role is meeting a diversity of people all with a common bond of wanting to make fintech a success in Scotland and on the global stage.

For example, my regular catch up last Friday with the inspiring David Ferguson, chief executive of Nucleus Financial was as valuable as ever from which I gain a great deal from.

I am absolutely delighted that David has agreed to become the inaugural chair of Fintech Scotland and very much looking forward to his ongoing wide counsel and strategic insights as we execute out plans. See Here for more details

Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to see another of my role models, Judy Wagner of FWB Park Brown who is always so focused on making a difference through inclusive people engagement.

It was really wonderful to see Judy again along with hearing from Susan Murphy, Maeve Gillies and Jacqui Gale to discuss our sessions for the Emerging Women Leader Programme at the University of Edinburgh in June.

This focus on people development was also top of the conversation last week when seeing Maggie Morrison of CGI to share thoughts on initiatives to embrace the breadth and diversity of people skills across Scotland

A point which was also top of mind when talking with Eva Schueckel on my involvement with the Fintech Fellowship programme sponsored by Spotcap, such a critically important initiative in supporting young people in the fintech sector.

The people focus was also very topical at the iMultiply event on the role of humans with artificial intelligence last Thursday.

Very much enjoyed sharing the platform with the innovative Colin Hewitt of Float, the dynamic Melinda Matthews of CodeClan, all expertly hosted by Kirsty Mackenzie and Heather Corcoran. Great engagement from the audience and I think we could have carried on all night!

Running Days

I must admit I’m trying to avoid days that turn into late nights at moment as my running days intensify leading up to the Edinburgh marathon at the end of the May.

Before then, this weekend it is a warm up half marathon race at beautiful Loch Leven to test how much speed I have in my legs at the moment
This means another short trip to the Kingdom of Fife, a lovely place to run and, of course, the original home where fintech all started forty years ago as Bill Tennant from the excellent fintech firm Payment Centric rightly pointed out on Tuesday at the Glenrothes Enterprise roundtable.

Until next time.