LOCATIONS: NORTH OF ENGLAND
A tale of multiple cities In just three years, FinTech North has helped to establish a reputation for innovation and investment in groundbreaking financial services outside of London. Director Julian Wells explores where the smart money is headed
Northern lights: Leeds has become a hub for data and analytics
The UK’s position as a global leader in fintech is irrefutable. Last year, we were the top destination in Europe for fintech investment, attracting more than £16billion. In a battle of the tech cities, London is quickly catching up with San Francisco as home to the highest number of fintech unicorns. Showing no signs of relinquishing its status, the UK fintech sector continues to grow at pace, with the first half of 2019 bringing record investment. And, far from being confined to the capital, its roots have spread across the UK. The sector is thriving in many of our regional cities. Through our annual FinTech North conferences, which began back in 2016, we have witnessed firsthand the growth of the sector in the north of England and its economic impact. The advent of other regional fintech organisations, such as FinTech Scotland and, more recently, FinTech West, FinTech Northern Ireland and FinTech Wales, indicates a growing fintech presence in those regions, too. Despite this national picture, there is still work to be done on ensuring that the UK-wide fintech scene is recognised. There remains a perception gap, where the UK
TheFintechMagazine | Issue 13
fintech sector is often thought of in terms of purely what London offers. This means that investment and other opportunities are often funnelled into the capital. More than 90 per cent of total investment into UK fintech companies goes to those in London. This is widely accepted to be due to the majority of investors also being based there. Perhaps they aren’t aware of the extent of our regional fintech ecosystems. So, with that in mind, what does the fintech scene look like outside of London?
Success stories Just over three years ago, we launched FinTech North to champion the growing fintech sector in the region, to showcase innovative startups and to create a platform to facilitate greater collaboration. Ultimately, the aim is to enable ideas to be shared and connections to be made that help the sector in the north to grow further. During that time, not only have the events themselves grown – with more speakers, more attendees and more host cities – but the organisations that have been part of our network from the very beginning have grown with us.
The fintech ecosystem in the north has also helped startups relatively early on in their journey. Manchester-based fintech Mojo Mortgages is a fairly new entrant on the scene, having launched in 2018. It is already making waves in the sector, picking up Best Mortgage Broker at this year’s British Bank Awards, and partnering with challenger bank and fintech unicorn Monzo to provide a remortgage solution. Richard Hayes, Mojo’s CEO and co-founder, says: “With companies like Mojo, which are breaking new ground in established industries, there’s no roadmap or rulebook, so FinTech North is a great forum to discuss a new idea or best practice with people facing similar challenges. We’ve benefitted from raising our profile with likeminded businesses, of which there’s an ever-increasing number in the north. It’s really becoming a bit of a fintech hotspot, which makes sense when you think that Manchester is a long-established leader in financial services and there’s a thriving tech and creative scene here, too.” The importance of utilising the existing regional fintech network is a sentiment shared by other leaders in the space. Founded in Leeds in 2016, TruNarrative www.fintech.finance
Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13