Britain’s shocking vote out of the European Union has sent investors fleeing and thrown businesses into dismay over London’s uncertain future as the financial capital. This raises inevitable questions; what is London’s future as the hub of the FinTech industry? Does it mark the end for London leading the world of FinTech? Or is it an opportunity to evolve? Interning for Pace Ventures, I had the incredible opportunity to attend ‘FinTech Without Borders’ hosted by Prodigy Finance in partnership with Balderton Capital at the infamous Hospital Club. A keynote talk and three panels on the effect of Brexit, broadening into an insightful discussion about the importance of mindset, multicultural talent, regulation, and investors.
Despite the consensus being that Brexit was not the right option, there was refreshing optimism throughout the panel. Instead of seeing Brexit as Britain turning its back on the EU and destroying opportunities, it could mark a turn in business mentality. It forces all businesses to embrace the globalising world. Instead of jumping ship and abandoning London, businesses growth and teams can be better distributed around the globe. This could be an opportunity to take advantage of the incredible talent that would otherwise struggle to access Britain. Hiroki Takeuchi discussed this issue; ‘every tech company needs to be global – Brexit felt like a vote against globalism.’ Yet Jeff Lynn resonated ‘we as a tech community voted remain, we are not out.’ Thus a global mentality, pushed by our refusal to allow Britain’s retraction from globalisation, may open opportunities for business.
The importance of a positive, innovative mindset was emphasised by all members of the panel. Despite fears of investors pulling out, Nicole De Rauville noted that ‘London as a brand is very strong. Countries look up to London and its FinTech strength.’ So despite uncertainty, London is still very much the hub of the FinTech industry, and will continue to be so. The vital ingredient for London to remain at the top of its game is attracting and retaining global talent into Britain. Hiroki pointed out that the most important factor for FinTech’s continued success ‘is the freedom of access to talent – the current system is crazy.’ London needs to change the current restrictive system to give Britain better access to global talent. In a concise but powerful summary; ‘talent is global, but finance is not.’ Localised regulation limits access to unleashing a world of talent, restricting our ability to innovate and develop.
The bottom line is that London is the current global financial centre in the world and can keep its crown, but only if the FinTech sector continues to evolve, disrupt, and innovate with the ever changing times. In the words of Helen Keller ‘alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’