UNICORN COUNCIL
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UK Fintech Powerhouses Unite: Unicorn Council Launched to Drive Sector Growth

Innovate Finance launches the Unicorn Council for UK FinTech (UCFT), uniting leaders from prominent fintech companies to drive sector growth.

The independent industry body for UK fintech has unveiled the first coalition of UK-based fintech unicorn founders – a council that will be co-chaired by Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance, and a steering committee of fintech leaders including Philip Belamant, CEO of Zilch as well as Charles McManus, CEO of Clearbank.

UCFT will offer the government essential policy recommendations to safeguard and uphold the UK’s strong position in fintech, ensuring the nation effectively tackles investment and growth challenges over the next decade.

Fintech plays a pivotal role in the UK economy, driving innovation, productivity and growth. Despite reduced investments in 2023, the UK maintains its global leadership, attracting more capital than all of Europe combined, as highlighted in Innovate Finance’s most recent FinTech Investment Landscape.

The mission

With a focus on enhancing policy, perception as well as liquidity within the fintech sector, the Council aims to amplify a unified industry voice on the key priorities of CEOs, investors, and board members, facilitating the scaling of their fintech organisations.

The Council will pinpoint primary challenges hindering the scaling and growth of UK companies and engage directly with senior government ministers and officials. It will also offer recommendations on policy interventions best suited to assist these companies. Consequently, this initiative will stimulate increased foreign investment in the UK, bolstering global competitiveness.

The Council’s executive committee, chaired by Mike Carter, senior policy advisor at Innovate Finance, and Ryan Mendy, chief communications officer at Zilch, includes prominent figures from various leading fintech companies such as Monzo, ClearScore, Curve, Revolut, Allica Bank, Openpayd, Aquis Exchange, Modulr, Liberis, GoHenry, Zopa, 10x Banking, OakNorth Bank, Quantexa, PrimaryBid, TrueLayer as well as Thought Machine.

According to Mendy, the genesis of the Unicorn Council emerged from a vision Zilch had to forge a groundbreaking, unified voice for fintech CEOs and founders with “future-proof policies that match the needs of their high growth businesses”.

Unlocking growth

According to Hirt, while UK fintech has shown resilience by maintaining its position as a global hub for investment, second in the world behind only the US, to maintain leadership it needs to accelerate work with industry, government and regulators to ensure the necessary support for growth tech companies, including proactive regulation and increased investment.

“We are delighted to launch the Unicorn Council for UK FinTech to unlock the growth in the UK fintech sector, support the innovators and industry change makers, and attract investment”.

Belamant also commented: “As a proudly British-born company, we’re excited to co-found this dedicated council for UK unicorns. This is a chance to redefine how global investors see the distinct value of investing in the high growth, UK fintech sector.

“We’re talking about changing policies and perceptions that flip the script on how founders think about scaling in the UK and beyond. I’m looking forward to this unique opportunity to work closely with the industry’s best companies and Innovate Finance, to craft the policy playbook that outlines what the government, regulators and the broader ecosystem need to address if our generation of fintech businesses are to thrive on a global stage.”

The UCFT

The Unicorn Council will be a subset of the Innovate Finance FinTech Strategy Group, and will work with established organisations including the the Capital Markets Industry Taskforce (CMIT). In addition, UCFT will also occasionally unite with the Startup Coalition’s newly launched Unicorn Project for Tech, to create a first-of-its-kind umbrella forum for UK unicorns across all sectors, and united voice for Britain’s foremost innovators at the highest levels of government and policy making.

Julia Hoggett, CEO of the London Stock Exchange, engaged on the CMIT, said: “We welcome the creation of the Unicorn Council for UK FinTech and we remain committed to work with the Council on matters of shared interest to support the growth of the sector”.

While Dom Hallas, executive director of the Startup Coalition, also added: “We’re delighted to support Innovate Finance’s Unicorn Council for UK FinTech in line with the Startup Coalition’s Unicorn Project. We look forward to all working together to get these and future UK tech companies the serious policy change they require to scale to even greater heights.”

Mendy commented: “Envision the Unicorn Council as a colossal £50billion plus conveyor belt, propelling today’s privately held entities into the limelight as tomorrow’s publicly held giants. Outside the US, the UK is the undisputed first choice for global businesses to IPO their successful ventures. This [Council] will help Ministers make the strategic policy moves that will catapult the UK back into the global economic powerhouse it desires to be.”

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