Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – FinTech and All That Jazz!!

Friday nights in Glasgow are always special but there was something extra magical a couple of weeks ago with the University of Glasgow FinTech Society awards event.

Even though I had only stepped off the plane from New York 24 hours earlier my jet lag was soon forgotten with the wonderful atmosphere generated by the Society’s student members.

This was no surprise because this energetic and inspiring Society has already established itself as the largest student led fintech society in Europe and the various team presentations demonstrated that they are a world class group.

The vibrant ambience was complemented by a terrific University jazz band who warmed up the audience prior to my presentation for the evening. And yes, fintech and all that jazz do mix extremely well!

This was an ideal fintech Friday evening with brilliant academics such as John Finch, Head of the Adam Smith Business School, awesome leaders Eve Wallace and Keith O’Donnell of Morgan Stanley and fantastic fintech players Iain Niblock and Jordan Stodart of Orca Money and Margery McConnell of Previse.

Massive congratulations to Elisabetta Trasatti, Kamal Chauhan and the whole organizing team, for an amazing evening, Scotland’s fintech future is very bright in your hands.

FinTech ‘Jazz’ Players

The evening in Glasgow also gave me the opportunity to catch up with Dino, Viktor and Antreas from the exciting fintech enterprise Bifrost Wealth.
Very excited about the journey ahead for the Bifrost team with the focus on bringing through the human qualities in using new financial technology to meet customer financial needs.

I was also inspired by the diverse international backgrounds of the team members working together in Scotland to advance their innovative proposition.
This further reflects the global nature of Scotland’s fintech community, something we are very proud of in demonstrating that Scotland is very much open and welcoming to everyone from Europe and the rest of the world.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs how I feel very privileged in my role to meet so many brilliant fintech leaders and entrepreneurs from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.

Meeting Christine Bamford and Jane Lewis of Women’s Coin was another great example of this earlier in the day, thank you Maggie Morrison for the introduction.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming the Women’s Coin team to Scotland’s diverse fintech community in the near future.

Then on Thursday it was fabulous to catch up with entrepreneur Alan Moody to learn about the terrific fintech enterprise Avrium, another great firm with a diverse international team spread across all parts of the globe. Brilliant.

Earlier on in the day on Thursday there was an important workshop session with a range of firms from the fintech community to discuss the opportunities to improve the accessibility to investment funding for young and emerging firms.

Big thank you to Mark Roger and Kevin Lonnergan of Vivolution for pulling together the session as well as the insightful Gary Torbett and Paul Funnell of Scottish Investment Bank for leading the engaging discussion.
Really valuable engagement with the fintech community and thank you to everyone who came along.

We look forward to progressing the actions in the coming months in this critical area to support the growth of fintech firms to achieve success at scale.

One fintech firm which is certainly a role model on how to successfully grow to significant scale is FNZ which has transformed how the financial services sector serves people in achieving their financial goals.
Therefore, it was fantastic to catch up with Lorraine Straiton, Richard Bolger and Alasdair Munro on Tuesday to hear the latest on their journey in becoming a fintech unicorn.

The world class FNZ leadership team is using technology to bring market leading engagement in financial services and has been doing so now for over a decade from their Edinburgh base.

I’m really looking forward to FinTech Scotland supporting the FNZ team as it embarks on the next stage of expansion on a global scale. It is wonderful to have FNZ part of Scotland’s fintech community.

Innovative FinTech ‘Jazz’

The FNZ team joined us at the fintech academic and industry workshop this week along with fellow fintech Avaloq and large financial institutions such as Lloyds Bank and RBS as well as the FCA.
This was a fabulous opportunity to bring the professors from the University of Edinburgh together with senior leaders to discuss the latest opportunities with innovative financial technology.

A special thanks to Lorraine from FNZ and Nikita Filippov of Avaloq for putting up with my fintech and running ramblings over dinner!

Thank you also to Alice Dreano and the University team for putting on an engaging fintech event with a great deal to take away and consider.

The event once again highlighted the value of leveraging the innovation strengths of universities to help Scotland achieve the global fintech ambitions.
This is something I discussed with Mike Emmerich of Metro Dynamics and John Reid when we met up last week on how to maximise the opportunities across the fintech ecosystem and beyond.

In this respect, talking with Jarmo Eskelinen on Tuesday about his new role in leading the University of Edinburgh Data Driven Innovation programme gave me a great deal of encouragement.

As did the discussions last week with Gordon Donald of the University and Mark Sanders and Greg Whiting of Accelerate Places on the potential development of an exciting new innovation hub in Edinburgh.

Emerging new places for fintech collaboration working with the universities across Scotland is a terrific opportunity to enable more innovation, for example following the model of Strathclyde University

I was excited to hear from Adrian Gillespie and Olga Kozlova this week on the FinTech Scotland space in the University of Strathclyde’s exciting Technology and Innovation Centre from next year.

FinTech Collaboration ‘Jazz’

The growing collaboration opportunities with universities to support fintech development was very much on the agenda for the SFE Fintech Development Group last Friday afternoon.

It was a wonderful way to finish of ‘fintech Friday’ and Graeme Jones, Lou Smith and myself very much valued the engagement from the broad spectrum of financial services leaders.

It was really encourgaging to hear the interest to get involved in the various priority areas of collaboration next year which will be crucial if we are to achieve our ambitions. Many thanks to Murdo of KPMG and Clare of EY for making it a very useful session.

My apologies for my ‘disco’ and ‘marriage’ analogies throughout the Friday afternoon in seeking to articulate the value of fintech collaboration!

Creating a collaborative environment was a key part of the conversation with Andrea Young from the Govt. Department for Digital and Culture and Mike Jackson of Tech Nation as we considered the opportunities of working more closely together.

Mickael and I very much welcomed the opportunity to share our progress and considering how this could have a wider application to facilitate innovative collaboration across the ecosystem in Scotland and beyond.

The introduction of the new Fintech Scotland digital platform in the next week or so will be a key part of this and Mickael has been working flat out night and day as always to ensure the next stage of the implementation is ready to go.

The digital platform will help us highlight how collaboration also stretches into cross sector themes such as cyber and I was delighted to hear from Nicola about the wonderful Scottish Cyber Awards evening on Wednesday.
Martin Beaton and the team should be very proud of their Trailblazer recognition, very much deserved.

Mickael is working closely with the Dentsu Aegis steam on the digital platform and so it was good to catch up with Anneli Ritari-Stewart and Chris Marsh last week on how we utilise their expertise even more with the fintech community in 2019.

Similarly with IBM and it was good to meet up with Simon Pink this week to discuss building closer links between the innovations across the fintech community and the new technologies such as AI.

In recent weeks I’ve been very much encouraged by the collaborative discussions with larger technology organisations seeking to help the development of innovative enterprises in the fintech ecosystem.

For example, on Monday the meeting with Douglas Adam, Mike Foster and Anthony Burgess of DXC Technology, a major employer in Scotland with whom there a number of mutual areas for development as we go into 2019

Then on Wednesday, catching up with Murray Farquharson of Salesforce, it was very clear that there was much we could potentially do together to in working together to benefit fintech enterprises.

For example, with their Ventures and Fintech Accelertor programmes, both of which align with our strategic collaboration plans and it will be great to progress with Murray and colleague Vicki Lintern.

Of course, it’s not just about technology and we had a great catch up to plan areas of 2019 strategic collaboration focus with Yvonne Dunn from the leading fintech lawyers Pinsent Masons last week.

Strategic FinTech ‘Jazz’

Talking strategic fintech was very much on the agenda at the KPMG 30 Voices in Edinburgh last Wednesday evening with a wide ranging conversation.
I was delighted to join a very distinguished panel of Melissa Kidd-Davies from Redburn, David Duffy from CYBG, Andrew Freeley from Computershare, Blair Turnball of Aviva, all expertly charied by KPMG’s Anton Ruddenklau.

Thank you to Catherine Burnet, Penny McLoughlin and the team for an enjoyable where the focus consistently came back to the need for financial services to better serve consumers.

The customer focus was also central to the meeting with David Macmillan, Managing Director of Prudential, last week as we talked though the various strategic initiatives of working together next year.

Then on a more global scale, it has been extremely beneficial and insightful meeting up with Kent Mackenzie and Chris Brown of Deloitte this last few weeks to consider the strategic priorities for global strategic fintech collaboration.
Massive thanks to Kent and Chris as always and looking forward to progress with Sharon, Graham and Fraser at Scottish Development International as they continue their valuable broader work on global financial services opportunities.

This was also the topic of my train journey meeting with my international mentor Promilla Caughey from the First Ministers Policy Unit.
We spent the 50 minute journey to Glasgow putting the world to right and being excited about how the ‘Scotland is Now’ international message can be leveraged to build global trade on a bigger scale.
Thank you as always Promilla for your ongoing counsel and guidance.

On a more specific part of the world, it was really useful to meet up with Lan-Ling of PA Consulting to hear about fintech lessons from the Nordics as well as seeing the ever youthful old colleague Gavin Neilson.

The developing role of Scotland in the global fintech ecosystem was the focus of conversations with the Morgan Stanley senior leaders on Monday evening and their opportunity to work closely with the innovative fintech enterprises in Scotland.

Very much enjoyed the discussion with Megan Brewer, who was over from New York, along with Roland Fejfar and Keith O’Donnell and looking forward to taking forward to mutual areas for development.

The end of the week gave me the opportunity to meet up with David Fergusson, the Chair of FinTech Scotland and, of course, chief executive of Nucleus Financial, another of the bright shining stars of the fintech ecosystem.

As always, valuable insight and counsel from David as we reflected on a fast moving first year for Fintech Scotland and a magnificent and successful year of delivery by the Nucleus Financial team. Wow, just amazing.

Running And All That Jazz

Delighted with my recovery from the USA marathon a couple of weeks ago and now ready to take on one of the toughest and most exhilarating half marathon races there is!.

This Sunday it is the Pentland Seven Resevoirs Half Marathon and yes it is as brutal as it sounds for those of you who know the Pentland Hills!!
Despite this, it will be my third time for this special race which only allows just over 100 runners!

This will be a good warm up for the Water of Leith Half marathon the following Saturday which Shery managed to get me admitted to, which I am even more excited by as a new race for me. Looking forward to seeing running buddy Angus McLean on the start line for this one.

Such a fabulous couple of races in the run up to the festive season alongside some very exciting meetings as we sprint to the end of the fintech year with jazz very much still in my ears from that Friday night in Glasgow!!. Until next time