LFP069 – IFAs, Fintech & Roboadvisers with Dan Kiernan Research Director Intelligent Partnership

IP banner for London Fintech Podcast“Everyone” frets over financial advice in the Fintech Age. Regulators set out to “protect the consumer”, worthy bodies talk no end about the need to protect “people” (never themselves oddly – generally they imply (/mean) folks of lesser education/wealth) and the rest of us are just confused over the labyrinthine rules around tax, savings and investments.

Needless to say a myriad on rules and regulations and the implicit costs of this suprastructure all act together in a Kafkaesque way to produce the opposite result – known as “the advice gap”.

In Fintechland breathless media and PR firms high on sugar, caffeine and other stimulants promise us a golden era of so-called “roboadvice”.

Dan KiernanHow to make sense of all this?

I am delighted to be joined today by Dan Kiernan Research Director at Intelligent Partnership “the UK’s leading provider of research, training and events on Alternative Investments” to cut through all this and to give us insights into why advisers are not recommending eg P2P to their clients when it has outperformed bank deposits for more than a decade.

On the show today we discuss all of the above and: Continue reading

LFP068 – The London Fintech Podcast’s 2016 Highlights and 2017 Awards

Dilbert by Scott Adams - Fintech 2016 turns into Fintech 2017Happy New Year boys and girls 🙂 May 2017 be a great one for you and yours! This is the New Year Special where I look back at my 9 highlights from 2016, dish out 10 immensely prestigious awards  and take a peak at 2017.

So without futher ado lets kick off the awards… Continue reading

LFP067 – Rethinking Banking: Marketplaces and App-Only Banks with Tom Blomfield CEO Monzo Bank

LFP Banner MonzoReformation or refactoring of banking is the Holy Grail of the Fintech Revolution. Do that and the revolution is a big deal. Get nowhere near and its all rather marginal. So-called challenger banks have ended up rather same-y. Will “App-only” banks end up going down the same route forced my micro-regulation and micro-supervision into the same tight mould. Or will they somehow remain within the constraints of the mould but somehow break it at the same time?

Its that paradox that faces Tom Blomfield CEO and founder of Monzo Bank. (and co-founder back in the day of GoCardless who were on the show in LFP046) A long way towards full authorisation as a bank will they become merely “me-too” or will they refactor banking as we know it?

Tom BlomfieldI have been an interested spectator on the sidelines for come time wondering which way the ball will bounce. At Lendit Europe 2016 I finally succumbed and took one of Tom’s pre-paid Mastercards – not least as which they offer wholesale exchange rates abroad and I was just off on holiday. It’s actually quite cool and more useful than expected. Certainly one gets a clear idea of what its like to feel like the business is really focusing on you as a customer-centric organisation with great design and service.

But back to the big picture – will Tom change the mould or will the mould change Tom?

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP066 – Solving Fintech’s Profitability Problem with Bob Jones CEO & Founder Blue Motor Finance

LFP Blue Motor Finance2016 is the year Fintech realised it had to aim for making a profit. Very few do and for the tiny handful that do its mostly “minimal”. Solving this problem is absolutely vital for the Fintech revolution. This is the story of a Fintech that has done just that – satisfying customers, staff and shareholders. Blue Motor Finance has gone from 12 to 100 staff, 0 to 40 people “on the road”, £0 to £200+m loans, and £0 to seven-figure profits in just two years. A phenomenal achievement, and by a firm not widely known in the broader Fintech world.

Bob-JonesSo listen up and find the real secrets of balanced Fintech success as CEO and founder Bob Jones shares how a lifetime’s lessons (having been in asset finance for over 50 yrs) has enabled him to reach these goals.

Bob has been a CEO of some big companies, many of which he turned round. An management buy-in provided a bridge from the top roles in BigCo to starting from scratch and leveraging all that experience.

So without further ado topics we discuss include: Continue reading

LFP065 – Special Episode! Creating Society – Policy, Regulation & FS with Lord Turner former Chairman of the FSA

"Inspiring the economics profession to engage the vital social and economic challenges of the 21st century"

“Inspiring the economics profession to engage the vital social and economic challenges of the 21st century”

Everything exists in a context. FS is a social construct that has differed massively over time and space, always existing in a context of Policy and Regulation.  Over my 30 years in FS I have seen deregulation time turn into hyper-regulation. Talk about pendulums (pendula?). Where do these changes in Policy and Regulation come from? How does the “game” of setting the rules for the “games” work?

Adair_TurnerIn LFP065 I am delighted to be joined by Lord Turner who headed the FSA from a few days post Lehman’s crash (“welcome to your new role…”) and was intimately involved in the years-long process of the creation of the Basel 3 global regulations for banking.

Apart from wearing these FS hats (with more background in FS per se) he has worn the BigBiz hat when he headed the CBI and the state/social-good angles when he chaired the Pensions Committee, the Low Pay Commission and the Committee on Climate Change in the UK.

He is also an academic and an author and his latest book “Between Debt and the Devil: money, credit and fixing global finance” dives deep into the nature of money and banking. As a taster I recommend his YouTube talk at the LSE. He is currently Chairman of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

So there is literally no-one better to guide us through the whole set of processes whereby policy “emerges”. How does the world change? Where does policy come from? What are the roles of academics, bankers, lobbying groups, politics, government, regulators? Do the people ever get a look in?

We start by examining the backdrop to the past 30yrs in FS and in understanding that give an understanding of where we are in the cycle of current crises leading to new ideas and future Policy and Regulation

This is a special episode – both in length and content – it’s nigh on impossible to make enough notes on this without it turning into a transcript .. however key points include: Continue reading

LFP064 – P2P in the US, China and UK with Peter Renton

Lendit US 2017After organising nearly 1,000 folks in the O2 for Europe’s largest P2P conference ever I managed to grab Peter long enough to have a fascinating tour of the globe and P2P sitrep in the three major hubs.

Peter Renton PhotoPeter Renton has perhaps has more of a broad and deep understanding of P2P worldwide than anyone.

When he first came on the show way back in LFP015 he shared with us the fascinating history of US P2P with its hugely up and down roller-coaster road.

Since then he has created the world’s go-to conferences on P2P in the US, China and Europe which gives him a unique insight into what’s what and where.

It’s a big world and P2P is a vast domain these days so there is plenty to discuss. Key topics are: Continue reading

LFP063 – Special Episode! A Deep-Dive into AI, Machine Learning, Big Data & FS w/Dr Tristan Fletcher Research Director Thought Machine

ThoughtMachine_Podcast_FINAL

I am delighted to be joined today by Dr Tristan Fletcher Research Director at Thought Machine to talk about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Financial Services. His Linkedin strapline is “I apply state of the art prediction methods from the Machine Learning (Artificial Intelligence) academic community to real world problems”

Tristan FletcherThis is a mega hot topic right now and also one all too often hyped beyond all belief and frankly credibility.

For some time I have been on the lookout for someone with real depth of knowledge in this area. When attending and also moderating a recent InSync event at the Tate Modern  I was impressed by Tristan’s deep understanding and also groundedness – the basic angle (or to be more precise my takeaways on his views ) being “all this stuff has been known to academics for a long time” and “many aspects of it are exaggerated and in many ways it has become more of a marketing tool”.

So the point of this show is to put it all back in proportion.

What is AI? I mean what is it really when one isn’t reading it in some journalistically overblown tech piece. What is machine learning? Are neural networks like the brain? How big is big data and does it contain all the answers? All these and more we will cover and I hope and am sure that you will go away far better briefed than before.

Tristan spans academia , FS and entrepreurialism. Academically he has studied at, or had fellowships with, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL and Sussex. FS-wise he has worked at senior levels in prestigious organisations in asset management and trading. Entrepreneurially and have worked with / founded start-ups in these domains.

Oh yes and apart from all this he has also applied machine learning to medicine (Imperial College London), supply chain management (Unilever) and even fine wine pricing.
So it’s another show where my teams of researchers have found me a guestwho is a collousus bestriding his world. And as always its another great show for my analyst who will have to hear me moaining more about my own punyness in the face of greatness.

Plenty discussed including: Continue reading

LFP062 – “Hard Fail” Provision Funds Revisited with Rhydian Lewis CEO Ratesetter

Ratesetter LFPI am delighted to be joined on the show today once again by Rhydian Lewis CEO at Ratesetter to talk about the ultra-hot topic of provision funds in p2p/marketplace lending. Rhydian was on in the early days back in LFP019 in an episode talking about P2P beyond the metaphors. That’s a good theme for today on a narrower topic as all too often when one reads about provision funds its metaphorical.

Rhydian LewisIn practice as with most/all of FS one really needs to get the metaphorical whiteboard out and draw some diagrams and a bit of arithmetic to make it real.

Lets provide some context first. Ratesetter was formed 7 yrs ago and has accumulated an amazing 300,000 customers with an amazing 250,000 on the platform right now and have lent an amazing £1.5bn with no lender ever losing a penny of interest or capital along the way.

Those are phenomenal achievements that very very very few Fintechs will ever manage to better.

But like growing up there are growth pains along the way. Ratesetter has been somewhat the P2P of choice for taking pot-shots at this year for the FT Alphaville column and the impressive Kadhim Shubber who seems to do more research than most. What are euphemistically described perhaps as missteps around self-investment of provision funds, not publishing future loan losses and rebasing of how the provision fund excess is calculated came in something of a flurry and even generous if sceptical folks like I started to raise an eyebrow.

But behind all this is the need to change. Did Ratesetter – or for that matter you and I – get everything right in 2009 (or for that matter every year since) or do they and we all need to keep changing in the light of experience and further thought?

Let’s briefly mention provision funds.

So briefly a soft-fail provision fund to use my terms is like the platform having a piggy bank into which it puts a few pence on every deal. If lenders loans are impaired that piggy bank is raided to subsidise them. But when it runs out the platform says “sorry guys no more funds to subsidise your loss, over to you”.

A hard fail model in contrast (which off the top of my head Ratesetter is the only big user of) when it runs out pools all investors assets together (to share the losses out). This is a big phase change – like going from water to ice. Its always been a concern of mine – if only as 30+ yrs in FS has shown me time and time again in different markets the impossible is always happening. No amount of whiteboard ink will ever save everyone in all circumstances.

So lets dive into all of this. An annus trickyus for Rhydian and colleagues and this important point about hard provision funds.

Plenty discussed on the show including: Continue reading

LFP061 – InsureTech the 30,000 Feet Guide with Jonathan Howe UK Insurance Lead at PwC

PwC Banner_Orange_JGI am delighted to be joined today by Jonathan Howe UK Insurance lead at Price Waterhouse Coopers. As long time listeners will know I am very reluctant to give anyone a big picture topic on anything. Most folks are experts on one coalface and very few on the whole coal mine.

Jonathan HoweHowever Jonathan is a rara avis in the modern world in many ways. His linkedin career is perhaps the shortest I have read – one entry – 23 years at PwC. Now that’s the lifetime employment model that used to exist back in the day and exists for very few today. That’s also, compared to many butterflies in the modern world, an opportunity to dig a very deep well of experience and knowledge in a sector.

Secondly Jonathan leads the UK insurance practice (over 1,000 employees) and is responsible for PwC’s services for the UK Insurance Industry across all their range including audit, regulatory compliance, actuarial, consulting, tax and deals.

Thirdly PwC have been involved in a series of reports on the sector. Now plenty of reports are out there the more cynical amongst you may say and quality varies. True. However in “InsureTech a force for good”  Jonathan and colleagues have gone more than an extra mile. Amazingly they and their report partners Startupbootcamp have surveyed over 1,300 insurance startups. Wow.

Add that to decades in the industry and we have another of the rarest birds in the real world – someone who really is an expert.

The subtitle of “InsurTech a force for good” is an interesting overview “How InsurTech can reconnect insurers with their customers while simultaneously boosting the bottom line”

I met Jonathan at an event recently. It wasn’t a game of Top Trumps but if it had been Jonathan would have won hands down … when you have a database of 1,300 startups that’s a hell of a lot of facts to bring into any debate.

Topics discussed include – Continue reading

LFP060 – PSD2 & Open Banking in UK & Europe with Paul Thomalla ACI Worldwide

ACI London Fintech PodcastI’m delighted to be joined by Paul Thomalla expert on the upcoming changes in open-banking, SVP at ACI Worldwide, member of the Payments Strategy Forum (PSF) and board member at Nexo Standards.

Upcoming changes re opening payments to non-banks and opening access to bank account data will change the industry. On top of this we have UK and European initiatives in re (even before Brexit). It’s all swirling round and I thought we needed a guide to clarify where it all is and where it’s all going.

Paul Thomalla SVP global corporate relations and business development CASUALBut first some intros to Paul’s hats.

ACI Worldwide, founded in 1975, is one of these perhaps behind the scenes incumbent payments companies that most of you may not have heard of. Suffice it to say they do $14 trillion of payments per … wait for it … day (!!) Interestingly staff numbers are around 5,000 so that looks to me like $3bn per staff member per day. Either their fingers move fast or do you know what … incumbents can use tech as well or even better than those assailing the castle might ever think.

Lazy Fintech commentators and those with little experience in FS – two categories summed up in many a LinkedIn so-called thought leader article – often talk about FS as if FS were basically almost entirely Banks. As listeners to the show will know its far from that. There is a vast ecosystem of players into which Fintechs are trying to find themselves a place at the table.

In LFP049 we had the pleasure of talking to Rich Wagner, Chairman of the Emerging Payments Association. The Payments Strategy Forum is another player in the equation – Paul can explain the whole meta-process of how incumbents, startups, associations and forums and the regulator and legislators interact to produce the FS world we live in.

Oh yes and we start the show with a story which will take the all-time London Fintech Podcast record for anecdotes – taking an ex-US President to a pub in London.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading