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Brexit and THE FUTURE OF FINTECH

What was your Brexit strategy? Didn’t have one? Not to worry, no one else did either.

But it’s not what happens, it’s what you do about it that determines the outcome. And we entrepreneurs aren’t worth the paper stock we hold unless we can pivot this to our individual and collective advantage. I got a message from a newly retired FD of a private bank, asking if fintech is going to leave the UK and if so which European city is most likely to benefit.

Here’s my workings out and subsequent answer. The actual changes to the sector are going to include: Regulations, Startups, Talent and Funding. Let’s look at these and see if we can piece together a cohesive conclusion of sorts.

Regulation

The regulatory changes are unknown at this time, and range from no change through to substantial change in favour of the EU or the UK. In all probability there will be little material change in regulation. It’s not really in anyone’s interest to start fractioning the rules according to territory, and whilst some individuals or groups within the EU may like to ‘poach’ the UK fintech and financial sector using regulation change as a lever, it would only trigger a UK response to counter it, resulting in a legalistic and regulatory financial trade war of sorts, which would see all punished. Prediction: No significant cant material change in regulation. Query over PSD2 though.

Fintech Startups

People may be less inclined to leave their jobs in the city and start a fintech company in the blustery economic weather. However, someone already living in Paris or Frankfurt thinking of starting a fintech company will probably look for and nd support more locally. Prediction: We’ll see fewer fintech startups in London, at least in the short term, and an increase in mini fintech hubs in Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, Amsterdam.

Talent

As a Country we have suffered reputational damage in terms of inbound talent acquisition. London however may well be (correctly) seen as the welcoming international city that it is. It was already getting very di cult to attract developer talent. Are we likely to see development teams establish wherever the best working conditions are? Amsterdam? Barcelona? The tech dev teams and the business dev teams and management teams don’t need to be in the same place. Prediction: Individual companies may decentralise operations in order to adjust to the new market forces. Looking more long term, the UK will nd it possible to create especially attractive immigration opportunities for software developers from both EU and non-EU territories.

Funding

Pretty much all fintechs are funding dependent. London needs to keep funding fintechs, and the Government could very much support this. If funding dries up in the UK, fintechs in need of it will look to EU based funds that are likely to make the deal contingent on the transfer of operations to EU hubs. Prediction: fintechs will need to have a Brexit strategy to maintain investor confidence. The UK Government may incentivise the funding of the sector. If funding dries up the fintechs will be lured out of London.

Overall conclusion

The biggest opportunity for fintech companies is the decentralisation of operations according to functions, giving wider access to talent and markets and possible funding. The biggest risk to London as a fintech hub is that funding becomes more difficult to obtain and fintech scaleups get drawn to mainland Europe, facilitated by institutional support and access to talent.

There will be competition from emerging fintech hubs in Europe, offering incentives for moving operations from London. London will respond with it’s own incentives. London will continue to be the biggest hub for the foreseeable future. Fintech as a sector is going to spread across Europe at an increasing rate, in a more decentralised way than we have seen.

Good for fintech as a sector, good for fintech companies that can turn it to advantage, good for business. Good for London if London makes the right moves.

In final answer to my friend’s question, is fintech going to leave the UK and if so which EU cities will benefit, I offer this prediction. Fintech is not going to leave the UK, it’s going to spread from the UK to multiple EU cities, including Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, and probably a few surprises.

We’ll be expanding there also. Exciting times.

By Katia Lang, CEO and founder of the Fintech Times

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