The UK government and regulators must show greater leadership to make London a place for fintechs of all shapes and sizes to thrive in, according to Conservative Party peer Lord Chris Holmes.
Talking at Fintech Week London on Wednesday, Holmes echoed other speakers’ remarks on areas of the sector that would benefit from a more timely regulatory engagement. While London and the UK more generally have a lot of the pieces of the fintech jigsaw already in place, he said, the industry requires a stronger framework to reach its potential.
“It’s that sense of even more leadership, coherence and co-ordination through HM Treasury, the Bank [of England], the regulators, so you have this golden thread of possibility and coherence to ensure that the promise of fintech can be delivered,” Lord Holmes said.
In the aftermath of Brexit, the UK government commissioned an independent report on the UK fintech sector – the Kalifa Review -, aimed at understanding how the UK could maintain and improve its position as a global fintech hub.
Holmes complimented Ron Kalifa OBE’s work, but added: “We need to ensure that we have all the pieces which go right through pre-seed, through ‘unicornification’,” through to the IPO stage. “If you are at that level, you should absolutely want and have the right circumstances to list in London,” he added.
Holmes also called for a mixture of legislation that would enable, on the one side, larger technology firms to prosper in the UK, and on the other, growing companies to scale up as smoothly as possible.
The sector’s repeated calls for a more favourable regulatory environment with regards to the scale-up and listing stage didn’t fall on deaf ears, with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launching a consultation last week aimed at reviewing listing rules in order to retain and attract business in the post-Brexit era.
Meanwhile, Virginia O’Shea, founder and CEO of Firebrand Research, cited the systemic risk that tech now poses from a security perspective, urging regulators and governments to get abreast of it.
“If everyone is in one particular cloud and that cloud gets taken down, what do we do?”
“That’s what the regulator has to think about, we have to protect our markets and you have to think about the weakest links,” she added.