LFP079 – Diving Into UK Challenger Banks with Darren Meek London FS Lead at PwC

Twenty or so new banking licences have been granted since 2010. The UK Retail Banking Sector is incredibly diverse but this is often disguised by the single label of “Challenger Banks” which hides far more than it reveals. UK Retail Banking is a very diverse sector with players with very different focuses and motivations.

In compiling their report “Who Are You Calling A Challenger Bank?”, PwC has interviewed dozens of CEOs and senior executives and, worked with YouGov to establish consumers’ views and preferences. In doing so they have produced a grounded, well-researched analysis (it’s free – check it out) that sheds light on how competition is improving customer choice and driving innovation in UK retail banking.

Darren Meek has 26 years at PwC and joins us today in conversation about the must-know, main important themes of the vibrant scene that exists today.

Topics discussed include:  Continue reading

LFP078 – Special Episode! 30,000 Feet Guide to UK Property Investment in the Fintech Age with Alex Michelin, founder CapitalRise

We all know that buying a property in the UK is a nightmare, that property prices are through the roof, that a first time buyer in London has an average age of 39 and that the “Bank of Mum and Dad” now has to contribute to around a third of first time purchases. Yet most folks in the UK are owner-occupiers and have to go through this.

How can Fintech help?

I’m delighted to be joined today by Alex Michelin, a former investment banker turned highly successful property developer, who not only has been immersed in this for over 15yrs but who recently founded CapitalRise a Fintech property portal. The team of eight at CapitalRise has over 75yrs of direct retail investment experience between them and the co-founders Alex and Andrew Dunn, who have acquired, developed and sold over £1bn of real estate. CapitalRise has been spun out of the highly successful top-of-the-market luxury property developers Finchatton.

Given the “challenges” (<coughs>) of the UK property market how can Fintech help? Before we get to that Alex sets the scene with an overview of all the many ways one can get exposure to UK property. So by the time we get to Fintech y’all should have a good idea of where it fits in, what it disrupts and its potential relevance to you.

Topics discussed include:  Continue reading

LFP077 – Capital Markets Fintech with Mark Beeston founder Illuminate Financial

Today we aim at the beating heart of FS – its IT systems. I am delighted to be joined by Mark Beeston founder of Illuminate Financial who has over two decades of hardcore FS experience trading derivatives, COO- and CEO-ing, to discuss Capital Markets Fintech.

A lot of Fintech is B2C, some is B2B but there is a whole chunk trading under the Fintech rubric which aims not to disrupt the provision of FS but rather enhance the incumbents. Disrupting existing IT vendors to FS not FS.

Illuminate Financial are Capital Markets VCs extraordinaire. Their claim is “we cross the chasm between enterprise Fintech and the Financial Institutions it should serve”. I can do no better than quote further re where this gulf comes from:

Regulation is increasing, the industry is deleveraging, and compliance is becoming ever stricter.

Financial institutions have been slow to adopt new technologies, while vendor management and procurement processes are focused on contracting multi-million dollar enterprise solutions from billion dollar corporations.

In doing so, they often overlook the innovative lower cost and highly scalable solutions offered by newer and more entrepreneurial suppliers.

Organisations know that the answers may lie in Fintech. Yet the ever-growing hype around the subject has made it more and more difficult to distil the signal from the noise.”

Topics discussed include:  Continue reading

LFP076 – Convergence: Insuretech/MGAs as an Example of Straddling Old & New FS with Charlie Blackburn CTO Azur

Do you have to be either “a Fintech” or “an incumbent”? Increasingly as #newFS and #oldFS converge this duality becomes less meaningful and its more about how well FS players young and old are embracing both “digital” per se as well as the business model changes it both implies and enables.

Azur is a great example of this trend. As an “MGA” (more on that anon) they fit into a well-established “old” category of the insurance industry. They are a comparatively new company whilst part-owned by a global giant. And they certainly “get” the digital thing in terms of both “tech” and also “business model changes”.

In LFP074 Andy Rear of the reinsurer MunichRe discussed with us their concept of reinsurance as a service. Put simply the ability to, as it were, just plug into the wall for your electricity/reinsurance – which then leaves InsureTechs able to do everything they might want and avoid falling into a regulatory net and needing a gazillion dollars of capital. Andy said that the key to the future were MGAs – Managing General Agents – but we barely skinned the surface on them

So here we are diving into MGAs and in the interests of brevity lets jump into the topics we discuss:  Continue reading

LFP075 – Managing Fintech Rebundling with Nikolay Storonsky CEO of Revolut

One of the founding ethos of Fintech was “unbundling” – the slicing of FS into single-issue firms. This is now looking old-hat. Revolut acquired 500,000 customers in less than two years by offering interbank rates on FX transfers and so was one of the most successful of Fintech 1.0.

Now they are leading the way with Fintech 2.0 offering a whole range of products. Managing this transition with respect to both “the brand” and “the app” is not trivial and I am delighted to be joined today by co-founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky.

Unlike Monzo who have gone down the banking route but Revolut have remained with the simpler/cheaper/faster but narrower e-money issuer licence.

 

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

LFP074 – Will Reinsurance as a Service Change InsureTech? Andy Rear, CEO Munich Re:Digital Partners

Can InsureTech change the landscape of insurance as a whole or will it just enhance parts of the value chain? Conventional wisdom says the latter but the appearance of a model called “Reinsurance as a Service” [HT to Daily Fintech] could have far wider repercussions.

Traditionally insurance (in all its very diverse/speciated forms) is in three layers. Brokers. Insurers and Reinsurers. Traditionally you would deal with a broker. They would get the policy from a an insurer (eg Aviva who we had on the show in LFP048). Insurers in turn would re-insure themselves with aptly named – er – Reinsurers.

We’ll talk about how Reinsurance as a Service might change that “stack”.

Andy is the CEO of Digital Partners, Munich Re’s entity for interfacing between it and the Insuretech world. MunichRe is one of the worlds largest reinsurers. To give you an idea of what that means it has around 43k employees, €50bn of revenues and €276bn of assets.

Incumbents across FS are trying all sorts of approaches to the Fintech phenomenon. Judging by results to date Munich Re have found one of the best avenues. In a relatively short time they have established partnerships with a number of InsureTechs, none of them “tangential”, including Bought by Many (stars of LFP027), Blink Innovation, Next Insurance, Simplesurance, Slice, So-sure, Trov, Wrisk.

Topics discussed on the show include:  Continue reading

LFP073 – The Second Wave of Digital Wealth Managers with Adam French co-founder Scalable Capital

Investment management – despite its known deficiencies – has been least disrupted perhaps so far by “Fintech”. The first wave of I.M. Fintechs (pre- & up to 2015) promised “democratisation” but have made relatively little headway. The awfully named “roboadvisers” are neither robo nor advisers but are ludicrously hyped.

There’s also the rather challenging question of what is there to be disrupted if ETFs (see LFP058) can be bought for roughly zero commission and have minimal fees.

Against this background I was delighted to come across Adam French – he and two other ex-Goldman Sachs colleagues launched Scalable Capital in both the UK and Germany a little over a year ago, and, as befits their background, really know of what they speak. They also have the advantage of befitting from V1.0 of the great “digitalisation of wealth management” experiment and can better design V2.0. They claim to be Europe’s fastest growing “online wealth manager” with around 4,000 clients, £150m of assets under management, and have a tie-up with ultra-blue-chip Siemens to power their employee benefits platform in Germany.

Topics discussed include:  Continue reading

LFP072 – Socially Beneficial Fintech & Personal Cashflow Management with Emanuel Andjelic co-founder of Squirrel

Squirrel’s self-description is:

a smart new way of budgeting and saving that helps you resist that temptation to spend. We work in partnership with employers, local authorities, housing associations and credit unions to bring better money management to the widest possible audience.

Squirrel’s 7,000 clients range from those on benefits to those earning more than £100k – as Emanuel puts it “there are spenders and savers” and this tendency he believes is already formed when a child is still in single digits – and hence in place later regardless of adult income levels.

In this episode though, for the main course we focus on “socially beneficial Fintech” – or in less euphemistic terms what Fintech as a whole can do for those with little money. All too often the vast majority of Fintech – for all the PC buzzword terms like “financial inclusion” ends up just being a tool for the top 1%/10%.

Recent benefit changes in the UK have led to significant problems for folks who are unemployed or underemployed and these are only going to get worse if current plans are rolled out further. In this episode Emanuel, co-founder and Chairman of Squirrel takes us on a deep dive into the economic circumstances and changes. He also talks very honestly about his own personal and significant struggles with debt.

In this show topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP071 – Going Beyond Startup & Scaleup – A Growth Master Class with Faisal Husain CEO Synechron

Many Fintechs have successfully gone from Startup to Scaleup. But none have gone to true Growth company yet. Today we are joined for a Master Class by a man with a phenomenal growth story to tell. Faisal Husain has taken Synechron from an idea to 7,000 people in 18 countries worldwide and generates over $400m of revenue. Not only that but in sixteen years and astonishingly without and external capital or debt :-O

In this episode I get to quiz Faisal, Synechron’s CEO and co-founder, on all our behalfs, and the Fintech community worldwide’s about some of his secrets of success.

How do you go beyond being a scaleup? What are the pitfalls? What are the methods? What are the key success factors? How do you “grow up” without “growing old”?

All this and more are discussed on the show. Topics include: Continue reading

LFP070 – Fintech & the UK Mortgage Advice Market with Ishaan Malhi Founder & CEO Trussle

Trussle are the UK’s first online mortgage broker, have just raised £4.5m in a Series A and have an exclusive partnership with the FTSE listed property search giant Zoopla. So they are doing well for a two year old startup 🙂

I am joined today by founder and CEO Ishaan Malhi to discuss why this sector is so important.

As often it’s the old-fashioned and unsexy stuff that is ripe for disruption. In the case of mortgage advice though there is another astounding nanny state regulatory change that has made it even more important to have a low cost Fintech solution.

In essence (FCA summary here) in the UK if you want to keep certain legal protections (not defined but being able to complain about mis-selling appears to be one) you must take mortgage advice :-!  And this advice can be quite expensive as we shall hear.

And if you want to talk about a world orientated around the 0.1% (corrupt state?) if you are part of the 0.1% – then like taxes you don’t need to bother! Golly gosh. And if you think I exaggerate check out the FCA’s webpage in re.

So can Fintech ride to the rescue?

Well apparently it can, although what is defined as “advice” is very fluid in a world spanning old-fashioned advice and more automated Fintechs.  In LFP069 we discussed advice on your asset side of the balance sheet. In this context LFP070 is about advice on the liabilities side of your balance sheet.

Trussle’s strapline is:

The hassle-free way to get a mortgage online. We search more than 11,000 deals from 90 lenders to find the perfect mortgage for you.

Not only that but you can enter your mortgage details at the moment and they will monitor all those deals on an ongoing basis and let you know

All this and more is discussed on the show, including: Continue reading