The Treasury released its “UK Fintech” report at the end of February, reminding us of what many knew all along – that London is the fintech capital of the world.
Readers of City A.M. will no doubt nod with approval while reading through the key findings. From diverse international talent to specialist fintech investors, and an especially supportive policy environment, London is an out-and-out winner.
But if there is one thing that finance and technology professionals know all too well it is how fast things can change. Several cities have their eyes on London’s crown, and we now contend with the deep pockets of San Francisco and the young talent flocking to Singapore, along with the old adversary of New York.
London needs to realize that this is no time to rest on its laurels: here are three ways that we can remain number one.
(1) Promote fintech awareness among investors
California and New York have both seen considerably higher levels of investment into their respective fintech companies, mostly due to their larger venture capital pots. However, if you look at fintech investment relative to total tech investment, London comes out top, attracting 30 per cent compared to California’s 12 per cent. London investors are therefore engaging far more with fintech, providing not just capital, but crucial advice to high-growth startups.
London’s next mayor needs to expand this expert class of investor. Championing our fintech successes and throwing a spotlight on this high-growth industry will create a virtuous circle of investment, knowledge sharing, and growth.
(2) Attract a diverse source of talent
London’s diversity is the jewel in its crown. Data shows tech professionals consider London’s diversity an advantage over the likes of San Francisco. London’s reputation as a melting pot is appealing to the brightest people from emerging markets, whose experience will be invaluable in building financial solutions of the future.
To ensure we continue to attract world-class talent, tier two visas should be more accessible for tech professionals, and the restrictions on student visas for top universities should also be removed. Foreign students with STEM and professional degrees should also be given additional points in the skilled migration test, ensuring a pipeline of global talent to create worldwide fintech solutions.
(3) Build an entrepreneurial culture
London has the most sophisticated fintech talent, but sometimes lacks the entrepreneurial spirit of the US, where investors can be more inclined to think big and reinvest money they make in tech.
London also needs to enshrine a culture of accepting, and even embracing, failure. The failure conventions of the US may be a step too far, but the nation certainly has the right idea when it comes to encouraging entrepreneurs.
London’s privileged position at the vanguard of the fintech revolution should not be taken for granted. But I have no doubt that the city will keep hold of its crown, and it’s for that reason I am proud that Prodigy Finance’s HQ is in London.
Now, if only we could bring over some of the Californian weather…
Cameron Stevens is the founder of MBA funding provider Prodigy Finance.
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