Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – Really Serious About Building Fintech at Scale

This last fortnight I’ve seen further examples of a serious intent to make sure fintech is a success at scale in so many ways across Scotland.

The biggest example will be FNZ, the international wealth platform firm based in Edinburgh, and their £1.6bn deal announced this week. An amazing achievement by Adrian Durham and the team at FNZ.

Building fintech scale is certainly not easy nor straightforward, with many bumps along the journey but inspiring conversations during recent days give me great encouragement.

Inspiring FinTech Scale

Meeting the inspiring Andrew Duncan and Simon Mone of CU Soar in Glasgow this week to hear about their ambitious proposition and plans to build a significant fintech business was hugely motivational.

Nicola and I came away from the meeting very excited on how we could support the team with their plans to build scale and reinvent an important part of the financial services sector and reach more customers.

This meeting was immediately followed up with seeing Eleanor Mackay from University of Strathclyde who is leading their very exciting Enterprise Pathway programme which will have a fintech theme this year.

The Programme will play a major role in inspiring new innovations in the fintech space from very early idea formation and I’m delighted we will be supporting the initiative.
On a broader scale, it was wonderful to meet up with Claudia Cavalluzzo of Converge Challenge to talk about developing a partnership to bring alive the opportunities for fintech company creation working with Scotland’s universities.

It was a privilege to also have Sandy Finlayson of MBM Commercial join us for the meeting and hear about his vast experience of helping new start up enterprises achieve scale. I’m hoping we can sprinkle more of this valuable know how across the fintech community.

Earlier in the week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Susan Brown of Zortrex who themselves are at a very early stage of growing but I can see significant potential for their ‘tokenisation’ innovation across many aspects of financial services at scale.

Of course, achieving scale with any business requires investment and addressing the funding challenge faced by many emerging fintech enterprises remains a key priority.

It was really helpful to meet with Ian Mitchelmore of Scottish Investment Bank this week to agree on the practical steps we can implement to support firms looking to build their fintech propositions.

Alongside this, the productive conversations with the Vivolution team Mark Roger, Andrew McGee, Kevin Lonergan plus Graeme Rennison and the team at Scottish Enterprise will mean this remains a key focus in the coming weeks.
Fintech funding was also a key topic in my catch up with Charlotte, Victoria and Peter at Innovate Finance on Monday in London and I am looking forward to combining our efforts in this areas

We also talked about collaboration initiatives on diversity and inclusion which we are all share a passion, especially in addressing the traditional barriers and mindsets.

Fintech Collaboration to Scale

My meetings this last two weeks have reinforced to me once again that innovative collaboration between large and small enterprises can provide a successful route to scale fintech.

This was very much part of the discussion when Mickael and I met up with long standing fintech supporter Derek Smith of Lloyds Bank to hear how their collaboration approach is enabling fintech growth.

Really impressed by Derek and seeing how the genuine collaboration is driving innovation in a large organization such as Lloyds Bank from their Edinburgh office and we very much value how they are productively engaging with the fintech community.

Prudential is another significant financial services player who are collaborating at scale and I am looking forward to developing the innovation opportunities in the wealth management space with Michael Winney and Richard

I’m hoping the collaboration at scale opportunities between large financial services firms and the fintech community can be developed on a wider scale to support the need to reinvent financial services with the common purpose of improving consumer outcomes.

I focused on this example of purpose driven innovation and collaboration during my leadership talk with the diverse range of leaders on the Common Purpose programme.
Thank you, John Heraghty, for the opportunity to share insights on the fintech movement and social purpose with a great group of people making a difference in their own organisations.

Collaboration was also the focus of recent meetings with Elaine Maddison and Jenny Thorpe of Aegon as well as Ali Law at Royal London as well as developing the broad range of fintech skills required for the future.

Fintech Skills to Scale

On the subject of fintech skills, it was so brilliant to catch up with the truly inspiring Elisabetta Trasatti, vice president of the University of Glasgow FinTech Society, one of the largest student led fintech societies in the world.

We are hugely impressed by the way Elisabetta and the FinTech Society team have galvanized students and the broader fintech ecosystem, very much brought alive by their Applied FinTech Project.

Wonderful also to see the collaboration with the Orca Money team and Chris Brown at Deloitte, such a great way to develop fintech skills for the future.

The focus on skills in order to build scale was a key theme of our discussion with David Skinn and the Aviva team when we visited the Scotland HQ in Perth last Friday.

It was terrific to hear about the insurance innovations focused on customer needs being developed by the Aviva and how they are building a centre of excellence around data analytic skills to further fuel this development at scale.

We are looking forward to progressing with the MBN Solutions and Dundee University teams going forward to ensure there are the fintech skills developed for future scale opportunities.
The visit to Aviva was a super way to finish off last week even if my walking directions led to Nicola, Mickael and myself getting to see more of Perth than we had expected!!

The long walk gave us time to discuss the theme of people skills which Nicola has rightly pulled out as a key topic which comes through almost every meeting we have had in this last fortnight

Nicola, who joined FinTech Scotland last week on a twelve month secondment form the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has already in the first few days made a huge impact with insights and expert guidance.
Once again, many thanks to Maggie Craig and Karina McTeague from the FCA for this valuable initiative in Nicola joining us on secondment.

On Monday it was the opportunity to take the fintech skills agenda to London and host the ‘Scotland’s Got Talent’ Event at Scotland House.
I was joined on the stage by inspiring leaders Alex Ford of Encompass and Colin Halpin of HSBC.

The fact that you had three people, originally from other parts of the world (Sydney, Dublin and Reading!) talking about what a wonderful place was for a careers and living reflected the genuine international culture of Scotland.
Many thanks to a very diverse engaged audience and to the fabulous Scottish Development International team for a terrific event , Karen, Andrew, Ashleigh, Martin and the Scotland House team.

On Wednesday it was back to Edinburgh and a chance to catch up with Mark Hunter and Colin Tate of Sainsbury Bank.
Some of our conversation centred around skills development, especially in Mark’s capacity as the chair of DataLab, who are very much a shining jewel in Scotland’s economy led by one of my role models’ Gillian Docherty.
However, most of our conversation was about delivering fintech change at a strategic scale and, in this respect, the very impressive transformational delivery by the very humble Sainsbury bank team is in my view a template to build scale.

I’m looking forward to supporting Mark, Colin and the team connect further into the fintech ecosystem in the future and share their example of what strategic fintech scale could look like.

Strategic Fintech at Scale

This strategic focus on innovative collaboration was central to my catch up with Craig Wilson of Sopra Steria and the opportunity for fintech to have a major impact beyond financial services and into the public sector

Thank you to Colin Carmichael for the impromptu meet up presentation with the Sopra Steria team on Tuesday, I appreciated the opportunity to share how their strategic involvement in Scotland was making a difference.

The broader strategic themes in retail banking of open banking, payments and community banking were the main discussion points with Eric Leenders at UK Finance earlier in the day. Thanks Eric for the valuable insights.

In two separate meetings with Martin Rames of Yodlee and then with Charlie Woods and Billy Weatherall of HPE, I was hugely encouraged about the interest to support the development of the strategic infrastructure and capabilities that would enable small fintech enterprises to grow.

Similarly, in the previous week, Mickael and I had a really useful meeting with Simon Pink of IBM on how we develop the strategic ‘tram lines’ to support fintech development at scale.

Scotland’s fantastic universities have a big role to play in bringing strategic fintech at scale to market and this opportunity was even more highlighted to Nicola and myself when we visited the University of Edinburgh Blockchain Lab.

Wow, what a way to finish the week before going on a weeks’ holiday, my head was spinning with ideas and potential connecting collaborations.

Hugely impressed by what Aggelos Kiayias and his team shared and very much looking forward to working with Aggelos, Emilios Avgouleas and Chris Magennis of Rooney Nimmo to take forward.

Then when I think of how the Blockchain Lab links our work with the brilliant Paul Mosson and the team at the Law Society of Scotland and their launch this week of LawscotTech, I just end up having a sleepless night with excitement!

The ideas, capabilities, skills and people all coming together to genuinely collaborate and provide the opportunity to reinvent financial services and more!! This is why fintech is so exciting.

Running at Scale

With all this buzzing around in my head I am going to start my week’s holiday with a run at scale, an early morning start while the streets are quiet to clear the head with a twenty miles or so run.

I’ve been plagued by a bit of a bug this last month so it was great to get out racing again last Sunday with the Kirkintilloch half marathon.
A very undulating course but one of my all time favourites and I was delighted to finish with a spring in my step and fourth in my super veteran category! I do find it odd be referred to as a super veteran!!

The next race in a couple of weeks time is the Jedburgh half marathon, another lovely part of Scotland’s landscape.
However, before then there is lots of fintech activity to flow! Until next time.