Interview: FinTech Scotland's CEO

Tech graph spiking
By Hannah Downie

7 August 2018

Ahead of the ICAS Insights: The Business of Technology event, we talk to CEO of FinTech Scotland, Stephen Ingledew, about his vision for a thriving financial services industry.

What's the role of FinTech Scotland?

FinTech Scotland has been created to embrace the opportunities that are emerging around the fusion of financial services and technology with the aim of driving growth and creating jobs.

FinTech is already well progressed across Scotland – there are great success stories from start-ups such as Nucleus Financial, FreeAgent, Lending Crowd, Money Dashboard and ZoneFox. Edinburgh is currently ranked 15th out of 44 FinTech centres by Global FinTech Hubs Federation – my ambition is to make it into the top 10 over the next couple of years.

What are your priorities as CEO?

I have four:

  1. Enabling collaboration across ecosystem, for example linking big businesses, professional services and incubators such as CodeBase with entrepreneurial FinTech enterprises.
  2. Being a bridge between universities and skills agencies with the financial sector to harness and develop the people talent and diversity required for a thriving FinTech sector.
  3. Facilitating access to funding and services for FinTech enterprises at each stage of their growth, from start-up to scale-up.
  4. Building the profile of Scotland’s thriving FinTech ecosystem, locally and globally, to attract more enterprises to Scotland and capital investment which in turn creates jobs.

What opportunities are there for CAs in FinTech?

FinTech covers a broad spectrum and includes anything where new technology changes the way we engage with money, either as an individual or as a business. For CAs working in traditional financial services, there’s a real opportunity, both in terms of the businesses they work for and in terms of their own career, to take advantage of the technology.

For CAs who want to break into the sector, there is a need to understand how companies are using the new technology in the various aspects of finance whether it is data analytics, cyber security and payment services among the other many innovative developments. That’s where my second priority comes in – to help develop the skills people working in professional services will need to drive the FinTech revolution, for example, through CPD.

Can FinTech break the glass ceiling?

Yes, I very much hope so. Encouraging diversity and inclusion is a vital part of my priority to harness the skills needed and so everyone can flourish in a modern, dynamic FinTech environment.

I very much hope FinTech can break the glass ceiling.

We need to be able to attract people from different backgrounds and, for example, to be more inclusive when it comes to gender, in order to generate positive and impactful outcomes through new innovation. People diversity is a key ingredient of FinTech innovation and will underpin our success: this is an important message for us locally in Scotland and globally.

Will FinTech surpass traditional financial services?

FinTech is changing the traditional role of financial services, for example, making it more open and accessible. It also stretches across other sectors such as retail, travel and telco which will enable financial services to become much more relevant to consumer and business needs going forward.

Financial services can’t thrive in its traditional silo any longer.

This means established organisations are having to change, especially as consumers have higher expectations of how they access products and services. Financial services cannot thrive in its traditional silo any longer. Technology and data are the key enablers that can help meet these needs of being more open and innovative, but it will require new skills and roles to develop to make this happen.

Therefore, it is not about FinTech surpassing traditional financial services but more of a progressive evolutionary change which will deliver better outcomes for all, in particular, growth and jobs.

What will be the impact of Brexit on FinTech?

Our aim is to put Scotland even more on the global FinTech map and to reach out to develop mutual opportunities across Europe and the world.

The key for this is creating the right environment in Scotland through an innovative and collaborative ecosystem which in turn attracts large and small enterprises from across the world as well as foreign capital investment.

This then provides an opportunity for the sector to rise above any broader macro developments and create a more sustainable economic and social base which is recognised as open, dynamic and inclusive.

What are the benefits of Open Banking?

PSD2 is an example of regulation responding to the changing world. It is presenting opportunities across the globe and is another reason that Scotland will be very connected globally for both people and businesses.

The new regulations will encourage the industry to be more creative when it comes to the way their customers access their financial information. A good example of a business that is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities created by PSD2 in Scotland, is Money Dashboard. By using personal data, Money Dashboard provides their customers with guidance about how they can more effectively manage their money to fit with their objectives.

Keep up-to-date with the latest news, events and developments via the FinTech Scotland website.

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