Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – People Make FinTech

New technologies are providing the opportunity to reinvent all of financial services, but I’ve always believed that it is people that will make fintech a success at all levels.

This ‘people make fintech’ philosophy has been very much reinforced to me in the last fortnight as I meet with a diverse range of innovative and engaging people from all parts of the vibrant fintech community.

People Development

The opportunity to present at the Heriot-Watt University event on graduate apprenticeships was a great opportunity to talk about the importance of people development for a successful fintech economy.

Thank you to Gill Murray and Robert Goodfellow for the chance to share thoughts on future skills for business and finance along with Vice Chancellor Richard Williams and other esteemed University speakers.

We are delighted to be working with a number of universities across Scotland as education programmes are developed at all levels to support the fintech growth aspirations.

In this respect, really pleased to be working with Damien McGarrigle in his new role for the University of Edinburgh as Fintech Sector Lead in in developing academic and financial services industry opportunities

People development is also about leadership skills in a fintech driven economy and this was a key area of discussion in my meeting with the FCA Chairman Charles Randell and Head of Scotland Maggie Craig this week.

However, leadership is not just about digital know how and data literacy, it is also about building collaborative relationships, especially in complex ecosystems. So, I was delighted to share my insights on this at the Executive Women’s Leadership Programme last Saturday morning to a probing and talented audience.

This is a fantastic education initiative led by the brilliant Professor Susan Murphy of University of Edinburgh Business School and the inspiring Judy Wagner of FWB Park Brown and it was great to contribute to the session on stakeholder networks and collaboration.

People Collaboration

I’ve been really enthused by fintech collaboration opportunities this last two weeks beyond traditional financial services with people from wider sectors who are embracing the new digital age.

Meeting with Martin Beaton and Evelyn Walker from the Cyber Scotland team on Monday was a great example of this and there is much we will be working on together going forward in this key area where Scotland has terrific expertise.

This was further reinforced when I was invited to join contribute to the Digital Scotland conference on Thursday in Glasgow which was expertly chaired by Alisdair Gunn. Great examples of how the public and private sector can both embrace the digital revolution for economic and social good.

Later that day it was on to collaborating with Polly Purvis and the fabulous team from Scotland IS for their Host in Scotland event with Scottish Futures Trust. A very different audience but delighted by the interest in the role of fintech across all sectors

Then catching up with Amanda Fergusson and Paul Wakefield from Marketing Edinburgh last week to ensure we are capturing all the relevant event opportunities coming to the capital to showcase fintech from Scotland.

Thanks to John Donnelly, the brilliant Marketing Edinburgh CEO, who rewarded me with Sweden in the office World Cup sweepstakes!

Innovation People

The world cup fever did not get in the way of a very engaging open banking meet up on Monday evening which showcased a number of examples of how people are going beyond the new regulations to drive innovation to improve customer outcomes.

Terrific session from Steve Tigar of Money Dashboard which prompted a great conversation that could have gone on all night.

It was great that a long standing friend, the inspiring Sam Seaton, chief executive of Moneyhub, a pioneer in bringing about positive change in financial services, was able to join the meet up with thought provoking contributions. You are welcome in Scotland any time Sam when you can escape from London.

Big thanks to the creative James Varga of The ID Co and for Ross Laurie in driving forward the open banking agenda through these meet ups.

The innovation opportunities with open banking are immense and it has been great to be working with Gavin Littlejohn and Kevin Collins over recent weeks to determine how we can put some strategic foundations down to embrace this opportunity globally.

Thank you to Amy Taylor of University of Edinburgh for arranging for Michael Rovatsos and myself to share the strategic ambitions on open banking with Paul Mason from Innovate UK last week, hoping it can propel us to the next stage of broader engagement. Lots more to do on this though!

The innovation opportunities of academia and industry working together are more than just banking and meeting with an old colleague from Standard Life, Joseph Twigg, highlighted that fintech is a broad church of creativity.

Looking forward to seeing Joseph and the team develop their innovations for the asset management sector

On the theme of creative entrepreneurs, it was great to catch up with Aleks Tomczyk last Friday afternoon in our local Corstorphine coffee house to chat on all things fintech and more.

Aleks is taking a well earned break after leading a successful fintech enterprise over the last decade and is now putting his mind to new opportunities.

One area we discussed was how to connect international talent with the fintech opportunities in Scotland which I hope we can explore further as part of the wider people plans for FinTech Scotland

International People

Excitingly, international fintech people have also very much been on the agenda this last fortnight.

This included a fantastic meeting with Jean Donnelly the amazing executive leader of the Boston FinTech Sandbox where we learned a great deal and see terrific opportunities for the respective fintechs on both sides of the Atlantic.

On a broader global perspective, it was great to be at the quarterly UK Government Department of International Trade FinTech Board meeting last week to consider the various actions to develop global opportunities for fintech enterprises

Then it was good to get into more specifics with the Australian fintech hub, Stone & Chalk this week on how we can build closer engagement on mutual developments, big thanks to Paul Kiernan for setting up this engagement.

Closer to home, it was really great as always to meet up with Julian Wells of Whitecap Consulting who is doing a brilliant job in leading FinTech North.

Sharing experiences about the developing fintech ecosystem and building collaboration actions will help us all succeed. I’ll be connecting Julian up with Jean in Boston in advance of his forthcoming trip to the USA.

Following the Digital Scotland presentation and Scotland IS talk, yesterday finished off with a really engaging session with the Chevening Scholars trade mission team from India.

Fascinating to get their perspective on Scotland’s fintech potential and looking forward to building more collaborations going forward with India

I must also say a big thank you again to my insightful mentor, Promilla Caughey, who always provides such wise counsel on taking Scotland on the international stage and building the fintech profile.

The team at Visit Scotland, through the Scotland is Now initiative, are also doing a wonderful job in amplifying the qualities of Scotland, including fintech, around the world. Good to catch up with Rory Archibald on this and looking forward to supporting going forward with more great fintech case studies.

Social People

Many of you will have heard me talk about fintech being much more than just reinventing financial services as a sector but the opportunity to have a wider positive social impact, for example enabling greater financial inclusion.

I had the opportunity to share some of our great examples with 11FS team for the video programme they are producing for Tech Nation and explain how Scotland’s enterprises are leading the way in this area.

On a bigger scale, I very much valued the opportunity to share this broader social purpose agenda with Gerry Higgins, the inspiring leader of Community Enterprise in Scotland and the person leading the Social Enterprise World Forum.

Gerry and team are doing a wonderful job in bringing the Forum to Scotland in September and this is very much putting Scotland on the international stage of social enterprise progress and I’m very much looking to support this. Thank you to Darah Zahran of Scottish Enterprise for great engagement on this as well

One of the examples I shared with Gerry was Money Matix and the fabulous work by Helene and Tynah in the area of using technology to improve financial literacy. Really excited about their various plans and welcoming their exciting enterprise into the fintech community.

Running People

It was such a wonderful 10km race in Glasgow last weekend and a brilliant atmosphere throughout the City, you very much could see why they say that ‘People Make Glasgow’ as it was so true on Sunday morning.

This Sunday, it is the quieter surroundings of Dechmont Law near Livingston for a trail 10km race which will be part of a longer 13 miles run I have planned to improve my marathon pace.

This will be followed by an evening with Elvis Costello, who I haven’t seen since 1978, yes forty years ago. I hope we’ll be dancing in the aisles to ‘Oliver’s Army’ and other big hits after a good recovery from a morning of running!!

Finally, my apologies to the various people who I’ve not had time to catch up with and where meetings are due. You are not forgotten, Shery is doing an amazing job juggling various commitments and we will meet up soon.