There’s a growing number of investors looking for FinTech investment opportunities in the North because the market in London is too saturated.
That was one of the views shared at Manchester’s inaugural FinTech North event, which was attended by political, business and academic leaders who spoke about the rapid rise of the city and region as a destination for FinTech.
Oliver Woolley is the CEO and co-founder of Envestors, a private network of sophisticated angel investors which was founded in 2004.
He described the market in London as being saturated and that there’s a growing number of FinTech investment opportunities in Manchester and the North.
Delegates at the conference were addressed by Dr Chris Sier, FinTech Envoy (England) to HM Treasury; Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership; and Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of Manchester University.
Murison said the future of the entire Northern Powerhouse region depends on FinTech and stressed that the key to success lies in collaboration. Instead of Northern cities acting as “warring tribes”, he called for unity and the region to adopt the mentality of one Northern “mega-city”.
He also emphasised the importance of the skills agenda and called for investment in education.
“We must recognise that early years work is crucial to supporting change,” he said. As traditional financial services models decline and are replaced by emerging technologies and disruptive new products and services, he argued that we need to ensure that our workforce are able to transition their skills and talent.
Luke Freeman, director of Whitecap Consulting and co-founder of FinTech North, said: “We are hearing the same message from everyone in our growing network: the North can rightfully claim to be a global destination for this industry.
“We have the skills, the infrastructure and the determination, and the big players from all over the world have already started to take notice.”
Speaking to Freeman after the event, he dismissed the notion that Manchester and the North ‘doesn’t get the recognition it deserves for being a FinTech hub’.
“I think it gets exactly the recognition it deserves,” he said.
“I’m not exactly sure of the numbers but I’d be staggered if there wasn’t at least 10 times the number of FinTech enterprises in London that there are anywhere else – and by that I mean small businesses that have specifically been set up to create software or tech to solve financial services problems.
“What you’ve got in Manchester is a small number, a handful of those businesses but I guarantee that in five years it will have exploded.
“At the moment, there’s a really small number of thriving FinTech business here. Is Manchester and the North a place where there are lots and ltos of Fintech businesses? No. Is it a place where FInTech businesses can thrive? Absolutely.”
The event also included panel discussions featuring tech investors and business leaders, who talked about the importance of collaboration and sustainable innovation when growing a FinTech firm.
Meanwhile, the investors urged tech entrepreneurs to ‘keep their vision’ but to also remain realistic when it comes to raising funding.
The Leeds event last month was the first in a series of three FinTech North events, now in their third year. The final conference will take place in Liverpool on 12th June.