Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – Developing the Global FinTech Fellowship

This past two weeks has involved a range of international activities which have further contributed to Scotland being recognized as a global fintech centre.

The time has never been so important to empahsise our global collaboration and inclusive international mindset with all corners of the world, especially Europe.

Importantly, the positive engagement from the international community to fintech developments in Scotland has been hugely encouraging, very much reflected in last week’s trade mission to Switzerland.


European Fellowship

Last week it was a privilege to join seven Scottish fintech firms on the trade mission to Zurich to meet with a range of financial institutions and stakeholders from Switzerland.

Each of the senior leaders from the seven firms delivered compelling presentations on their business propositions to a very engaged European audience.

Congratulations to Jason Forsyth from Agenor Iceflo, David Waddington from Asura Financial, Wayne Johnson from Encompass, David Smith from Renovite, Dave Jennings form The ID Co and Tom Butcher from Trakz Labs for fantastic engagement and showing fintech innovation at its very best.

Massive thanks must go to the brilliant Pat Kunz of Scottish Development International, Noel McEvoy, Marie Gow and James Penn of the Department for International Trade who engineered the delivery of such a constructive trade mission.

We were hosted by the wonderful Sabrina Schenardi at the excellent SIX Group offices for the mission which was chaired by the awesome Manuela Andalora who acted as the magnificent master of ceremony throughout the event.

It was a terrific to join an esteemed panel of Gavin Littlejohn, Katharina Bart, Keith Phillips of the Investment Association and Michael Coletta of London Stock Exchange to share thoughts how fintech can really change the financial services landscape for good.

Later in the day it was great to hear from major influencers, Catherine McGuiness of the City of London Corporation, Maria Leistner of UBS, David Bundi of PWC, Angela Yore of SkyParlour and Petra Arends-Paltzer on driving creating diversity through fintech initiatives.

On the Thursday evening, I was given the opportunity to host a Scotland dinner to bring together the fintech firms with a range of key influencers, investors and senior executives.

This gave me the opportunity to share Scotland’s international mindset based on community, collaboration and a progressive culture.

This was then brought alive even further by the inspiring Gavin Littlejohn who shared the emerging developments of a Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence in Scotland

I must also thank Catherine McGuiness who shared so eloquently her thoughts on the close collaboration between the City of London and Scotland in supporting shared objectives.

The visit to Switzerland also gave the opportunity to catch up with some of the Avaloq team including the innovative Anders Christensen and Philippe Meyer.

Avaloq are certainly a “Rolls Royce’ fintech enterprise making great strides and it is a real privilege that they are one of FinTech Scotland’s founding partners, further demonstrating their strategic leadership credentials

The links with Switzerland are growing stronger and it was wonderful to meet Caroline Rosenberger and Mike Johnson from the Chamber of Commerce team who are doing so much to build on this

Our European engagements have also extended to France this last two weeks and Mickael Paris has been at the Paris FinTech Forum, where once again we were given a very warm welcome and support.

Developing the European fintech collaboration and fellowship opportunities will continue to be an important focus for FinTech Scotland in 2019.


London Fellowship

The Switzerland trade mission also gave me the opportunity to meet and listen to some exciting London based fintech enterprises such as Rebecca Peche from Smart Pension, Sean Hunter from Oak North and Justin Farr-Jones from Creditscript.

I’m hoping they will all make a visit to the fintech community in Scotland soon.

This week saw many of the Scottish financial services and fintech leaders in London for the official launch of Scotland’s financial services prospectus at the Mansion House in the City.

It was a wonderful Burns night occasion hosted by the City of London Mayor which was brought alive by an inspiring speech by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon and then followed by an awesome ‘Address to a Haggis’ by Steve Ewing of Informatic Ventures.

The evening was a special fellowship opportunity to catch up with many of the inspiring leaders in Scotland such as Gillian Docherty, Russell Dalgleish and Jamie Coleman as well as make new friends such as Anyi Hobson of Commerzbank.

Big congratulations to Clare Carswell and Bronwyn Torrie from Scottish Financial Enterprise for a wonderful evening and for bringing alive ‘Scotland Is Now’ with the prospectus.

The next morning it was along to the London Stock Exchange for the launch of Elite Scotland, the investment funding programme to support high growth companies such as Encompass.

Terrific to listen to Gordon McArthur of Beeks Financial on their impressive journey as well as hear from many of the leading figures from the Scottish investor community such as Sarah Hardy of Archangel Investors, Fraser Lusty of Equity Gap and Jackie Waring of Investing Women.

Supporting fintech firms in accessing funding options is a key priority and it was valuable to have a session recently with a range of investors on progressing this.

Many thanks to Andrew Coleman of Equity gap, Ian Mitchelmore of British Business Bank, Thomas Brock of BE Group, Michiel Smith of Apollo, Aidan Macmillan of Par Equity and Andrew Sloane of ADV for a very constructive session with actions we will follow up on.

The time in London gave me the opportunity meet up with Vishal Patel of Anthemis Group to discuss how we may work together in connecting with fintech investment opportunities in Scotland.

Very much looking forward to welcoming Vishal to Scotland in April to introduce to some of the exciting fintech firms developing a national and global presence.


Global Fellowship

The global connections are a key part in building Scotland’s fintech reputation for international development as well as inward investment.

Fantastic news last week to hear that the Hong Kong based fintech Actelligent will be developing their exciting enterprise in Scotland. Great leadership by Graham Hatton, David Leven and the SDI team.

We are delighted to welcome Charmaine Lo and the team to the Scotland fintech community and support the next stage of their journey along with many other exciting international fintech firms.

There is an opportunity to develop Scottish fintech opportunities with Hong Kong with the opening of the Bridge Pilot Programme. Thank you to Thorsten Terweiden for this.

It was great to share Scotland’s international fintech ambitions with the Global Scot community last week as well and give examples of how we are progressing to be a major fintech centre

Huge thanks to Collette Hughes from SDI for setting up the double webinar to cover all quarters of the world, it was really useful to share the plans of fintech in Scotland

Very much encouraged by the follow up feedback from the Global Scot community from around the world and the offers to support firms as they progress their international plans.

Collaborating to develop the international opportunities is a key part of our partnership with the fantastic team at Deloitte and it was really useful to catch up with Kent Mackenzie and Chris Brown on the areas to focus on for 2019.

The brilliant insights and support from the Deloitte team is a valuable asset for FinTech Scotland.

The global opportunities were also very much on the agenda for the meeting in London with Tom Helm and Sameer Gulati at the Department of International Trade as we discussed the opportunities for leveraging international opportunities.

Very much looking forward to progressing the important work of DIT FinTech Board with Tom and Sameer as well as collaborating for the FinTech Week in Spring of this year along with Graham Hatton and the SDI team.

The FinTech Week showcase event will be the Innovate Finance Global Summit and it was very helpful to catch up with Charlotte Croswell and Rolf Merchant this week in London to develop joint plans.

We’ll also be working with the Fintech North team on this and it was great to catch up with Julian Wells to hear about the terrific work he has been leading in developing the various new initiatives.

I’m very much looking forward to taking up Julian’s offer to speak at the forthcoming FinTech North events in the cities of Manchester and Leeds in the Spring.

Then we’ll be reciprocating by supporting Julian and the team with an event as part of the Fintech Festival in September which will take place across Scotland’s cities.


City Fellowship

Scotland’s cities are further enhancing their reputations as major fintech areas of activity and none more so than Glasgow.

On this it was great to meet up with Graham Smith of Glasgow City Council as well as Paul Hughes, Graeme Rennison, Jamie Rankin and Jacqui Cosgrove of Scottish Enterprise on how we can amplify the great activity to a higher level.

From the exciting developments at the University of Strathclyde through to ongoing progress of firms such as market leading Castlight Financial and Previse, there is much to share with the wider world.

Many congratulations to Previse and Edinburgh based LendingCrowd for being selected for the Tech Nation Upscale programme, well deserved recognition of their high growth potential.

I had the opportunity on Thursday to share these and other examples of the exciting fintech developments with the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce members including Niki McKenzie from the highly respected Archangel Investors and the leading academic Professor Joe Goldblatt of Queen Margaret University.

Many thanks to Liz McArevey, Alexia Haramis and Rebecca Neish for inviting me to the meeting which was unfortunately cut short by the firm alarm on the coldest day of the year!

I hope we can reconvene for ‘part two’ of the session to share how the fintech developments in the City are relevant to all sectors and businesses

The close collaboration with the Financial Conduct Authority is a key enabler which further demonstrate the value of fintech fellowship.

In this respect I found it very helpful to catch up with Ed Smith of the FCA in London earlier in the week at the Stratford HQ and highlight some of the valuable work Nicola Anderson is leading for FinTech Scotland whilst on secondment to us.

Then yesterday it was fantastic to see so many of the fintech community and the wider financial services sector come along to the FCA Project Innovate event on Thursday afternoon.

A very big thank you to Maggie Craig for her inspiring leadership and to the engaging Steven McWhirter, Molly Benjamin, Katherine Brown, Laura Royle and Thomas Ward for a valuable event

Many thanks to the other contributors to the discussions, including David Mcllwaine from our strategic partner Pinsent Masons, Fiona Kinsler from the exciting Cyber Security firm EncompassIT and the brilliant Nilixa Devlukia from the Open Banking Team

The collaboration being developed across Scotland between fintech firms, established financial services businesses, Scottish Enterprise, the FCA and the Scottish universities is very powerful and is attracting a lot of interest.

It has been really useful to progress these plans with our strategic partners Craig Wilson and Colin Carmichael of Sopra Steria as well as Neil Cunningham and Robert McKechnie of Equifax especially in connection with university collaboration.

Also great to catch up this week with Anneli Ritari-Stewart and Steve Farquhar from our strategic partner Dentsu Aegis on how we can amplify some of the collaborative innovation taking place across our cities.

There have been other fantastic examples over this last few weeks of collaborative fellowship to support the development of fintech opportunities

For example, wonderful to hear about the successful Fife FinTech Skills Academy pilot which completed this week and the plans to build on the success and take to the next stage

Magnificent example of collaboration between innovative fintech firms such as Renovite and Ingenico along with Fife College and Fife Council. So inspiring.


Running Fellowship

My running is often a solo activity, so it was fantastic to have the opportunity to go on a run with fellow runner Pat Kunz of SDI on arrival in Zurich last week.

When Pat said he was going to show me the beautiful sights of Zurich I did not expect this to be a three mile run upwards into the sky above the City.

However, with Pat’s encouragement we made it to the top and the FIFA HQ before enjoying a more leisurely run downhill for three miles.

This all did me a power of good because on Saturday I ran my best Parkrun time for over a year so I guess hills (or should I say mountains) are good for me!!

Thanks Pat, next time it is race around Arthurs Seat when you come over to Edinburgh

My next race is the Strathaven half marathon in a couple of week’s times which I know will involve a few more hills and some wind!! Until next time.