We spoke to Clare Flynn Levy, CEO and founder of Essentia Analytics. Who explained to us why London Has vital Fintech elements.
Essentia Analytics is a cloud-based software solution that uses behavioural data analytics to help professional investors make more skilled investment decisions. Claire has been a London resident since the 90’s. We were curious to find out why she preferred the London Fintech scene to the U.S.
You’re an American and a Fintech entrepreneur, yet you chose to launch your business in London rather than New York or Chicago. How come?
I first moved from New York to London back in the 1990s, and I’ll admit that living here for so many years has influenced my choice. I guess I’m an early adopter! If London was appealing two decades ago, it’s irresistible now.
If you had to give a bullet-point summary of the reasons for that, what would be top of the list?
Put quite simply, London has all the elements vital to Fintech life. It has a cutting-edge, collaborative tech community; a thriving and deep-rooted financial services industry; and a high-quality, highly mobile labour force. You have fast-moving tech companies, world-class universities, banks, exchanges, hedge funds, private equity firms and insurance companies, all crammed into a few square miles. Plus the UK government genuinely supports entrepreneurship. I think it’s all of this that makes London the best place in the world to start a Fintech business.
Aren’t the best coders all in the U.S.?
Over the last decade or so, the skills gap has closed considerably. London has always been a magnet for young tech talent and these days the place is crawling with hungry, well-qualified developers. Plus, in the event that you did need to outsource development, the UK is a great base. You have access to the sourcing hubs of Eastern Europe and India, all just a few hours away from GMT. In the U.S. it’s just not that easy, while outsourcing is of course an option, the time differences between the West Coast and the major outsourcing hubs make it tricky.
What else makes the city attractive?
Compactness. I know Americans are supposed to love elbow room, but believe me, size has its downsides. In the U.S., I often find myself having to travel thousands of miles just to get from Silicon Valley or a top university on the West Coast to Wall Street, the heart of the financial sector on the East Coast. In London, I can just walk. That’s a huge advantage for any Fintech enterprise.
When you put it like that, it sounds like a perfect recipe for a Fintech hotbed. Yet the sector doesn’t really seem to get much media coverage.
There was an excellent Accenture report last year, and many others published since, that highlight Fintech’s importance to the UK economy. In fact, in 2014 fintech contributed £20 billion to the UK economy, and with huge growth on the cards for 2015 I think if the media aren’t already paying attention, they will be soon. But other than its presence in the press, there’s a fantastic Fintech community that’s thriving in London with new meet-ups, awards and websites popping up every other day – you just need to know where to look!