Katharine Adlard, director at PwC and leader of the PwC financial services tax team in the West & Wales, has worked with businesses in the financial services (FS) sector for more than 18 years.
In this Q&A, Matt Hyde, managing director at Fintech Awards South West, chats to Adlard to learn more about working in the fintech industry and supporting financial services businesses.
Tell me about your role and outline your firm’s involvement in the fintech industry.
PwC is proud of our full-suite local FS specialist team working across tax, deals, audit and consulting, with experts advising on FS matters in all sectors of the industry based in our Bristol and Cardiff offices.
I mainly advise and audit established, regulated FS businesses, such as insurance companies and retail banks / building societies, but am increasingly being called upon to support new FS startups.
I have been involved in FinTech West since its inception, where PwC was a founding partner. I am proud to now sit on the FinTech West advisory board – facilitating sessions through our partnership, sharing insight in the industry and contributing to thought leadership.
PwC plays a pivotal role within the industry, working with fintechs at every stage of their evolution, being well placed to bring relevant players together from large incumbents to early-stage fintechs. While the landscape is complex and increasingly crowded, we believe that there is significant value to be had for both incumbents and innovators from the careful curation of fintech partnerships, and significant investment and value creation opportunities for a wide range of investors.
What inspired PwC to become a sponsor of Fintech Awards South West?
We’ve been sponsors of The FinTech Wales Awards since their inception and have found them to be of great benefit to the business – and to the broader market. So when the opportunity came around to sponsor the South West equivalent, we were extremely keen to be involved.
PwC sees both the fintech and broader technology sectors as key in the future success of the South West. We want to recognise and encourage the fantastic entrepreneurial businesses and individuals who bring to life the wide range of solutions provided by fintech, including a number of disruptors and creative problem explorers, which is why we feel that the Awards are such a great fit with our strategy here at PwC.
The ‘Rising FinTech Star’ category which we’ve sponsored since supporting the inaugural Wales Awards resonates with our vision and community ethos to grow and develop the best upcoming talent.
Can you share examples of successful collaborations between PwC and fintech companies that have resulted in innovative solutions or services for clients?
PwC launched the fourth InsurTech Scale programme in September 2023. The 12 week programme is a platform to scout and connect the best fast-growth Insurtech scale-ups, for PwC and our large clients and to create commercial opportunities. The Scale | InsurTech programme is an accelerator programme that connects industry leaders and decision makers in insurance organisations, to products from B2B InsurTech scale-ups with the aim to create mutual commercial opportunities for scale-ups and organisations alike.
More locally, through our links into FinTech West and FinTech Wales, and our continued support of the Awards on both sides of the Severn Bridge, we are providing resources, experience and insight to the fintech ecosystem and community, and assisting in training the talent of the future through local and national initiatives such as the MSc in Cybersecurity & Technology, which is jointly curated with Cardiff University.
The fintech sector is characterised by rapid changes and regulatory considerations. How does PwC assist fintech startups in navigating complex regulatory landscapes while maintaining their innovative spirit?
Whether a fintech is just starting out or an established financial services provider, partnerships and collaboration are fundamental to the ability to scale. Putting the right support around an organisation, connecting with regional networks, and finding opportunities to collaborate – with other fintechs with incumbents, and even with the regulator – are just some examples of the foundations for success that PwC supports.
How does PwC leverage its diverse expertise to support fintech companies in developing holistic and sustainable business strategies?
Supporting innovative start-ups is something we are doing more and more here in the South West. With dedicated local resource supporting both Private Business and Financial Services, we bring a unique combination of specialists who can talk to all the complexities of start-up business in a financial services and regulatory context.
Since November 2022, PwC has provided Cardiff Capital Region City Deal with support in setting up and launching its Innovation Investment Capital fund, and has advised and provided operational support to Capricorn Fund Managers in the sourcing of investment and screening and reviewing potential investee companies. As the fund’s Alternative Investment Fund Manager, Capricorn Fund Managers provide portfolio and risk management services. The fund is sector-agnostic and has received applications from a wide range of sectors including fintech, medtech, consumer, energy and environment, construction and artificial intelligence, among others. Further investments are expected in the coming months, which will help to catalyse regional growth through new employment opportunities and accelerated economic development.
6. The Fintech Awards South West provides opportunities for networking and knowledge-sharing. How does PwC see its involvement in the event benefiting both the company and the fintech community in the South West region?
Being involved in the Awards in Wales has given us great insight into how our involvement with The FinTech Awards South West will benefit PwC and the wider community in the South West. From the high number of introductions and connections the sponsorship has brought us through to the prestige of the Awards night itself, it’s been a highly beneficial alliance for us.
Our continued investment in the Awards – alongside all of the other partners – helps to build a momentum of energy and buzz, while bringing fintech people together. This will only enhance the fintech network in the South West and enable our regional successes and story to be showcased more widely.
Finally on a personal level what has helped or inspired you the most in your career and what advice would you give to others?
I would advise others to:
- Support and collaborate with others willingly
- Be bold with your great ideas and seek help on your journey
- Some of the best stories have been borne out of challenge or even failure, so don’t be afraid of that and show passion, determination and resilience to allow you and your ideas to grow.