The banking world has seen some significant disruption in recent years as the FinTech revolution has gathered pace. As regulatory walls have come down, a rash of new upstarts have set their sights on grabbing a slice of the financial services pie. From payment providers and crowdfunding apps to challenger banks and finance platforms, FinTech as a sector is perhaps the hottest ticket in town.
And that heat is rising on two sides of the world. In fact, the vibrancy of the UK FinTech sector is probably only matched by that currently happening across the world in Australia.
Consider the figures: according to official statistics, UK FinTech firms generate £7 billion in revenue annually, employ over 61,000 people, and in 2017 raised £1.3 billion in investment. In Australia, meanwhile, the sector continues to attract investment at an encouraging rate, establishing the country as the regional hub for FinTech.
The reasons why these two markets are so well advanced vary – friendly regulatory regime, good existing financial services infrastructure and a receptive consumer base – but whatever is driving it, Australian start-ups are increasingly looking to expand their reach into the UK’s growing market.
Which goes some way to explaining why the Anglo-Australian Fintech Bridge has proved to be so popular. The scheme, jointly launched in 2018 by the UK’s DIT and Australia’s Treasury, aims to connect exciting start ups with new markets. In practice that has seen UK companies visit Australia as well as a recent party of their Southern counterparts spending a week in the UK as part of the LendIt Fintech Mission to the UK.
“The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge has been a tremendous success to date with over 24 Australian FinTech setting up in the UK since its inception and more than 14 new UK FinTechs doing business in Australia and I encourage companies in both countries to take advantage of the opportunities it offers,” said Michael Ward, British Consul General and UK Deputy Trade Commissioner, Asia Pacific – Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s a great way of bringing some of the world’s most dynamic and innovative young companies to a mature and receptive market like the UK,” says Paul Beare, who has helped a number of Antipodean companies expand from their base into the UK. “What with the opportunities currently opening up in the UK as the sector grows and expands, it’s a great time for Australian companies to consider establishing a presence here.”
Making a start
Paul’s connections with the Australian and New Zealand markets were established a number of years ago. As a regular visitor Down Under, he has partnered with UK Trade and Export (UKTE) on a series of roadshows aimed at explaining what the process of setting up a UK presence will usually involve.
“We take them through the basics of setting up here,” Paul says. “From payroll to employment law, tax, banking and company formation. It can be a complicated path to navigate if you don’t know your way around so we’re there to make sure they can hit the ground running and get on with the big stuff – growing their business.”
Paul Beare typically engages clients on a project-based fee approach, covering all the key business requirements, offering both efficient execution and useful advice on a whole range of issues. “There are lots of boxes to tick when you set up in the UK – just opening a bank account can require a lot of work,” says Paul.
“And that’s just setting up – once you start to grow your requirements will change – whether that’s employing more staff, sourcing new premises or strengthening your accounting and management. And we’re there every step of the way.”
There are further plans to strengthen the FinTech Bridge, with more visits on the horizon. Meanwhile Paul will be in Australia again at the end of October to attend CeBIT.
“It’s such a vibrant sector in Australia – there’s no doubt lots of these start ups would thrive in the UK so we’re looking forward to meeting more interesting companies at CeBIT to see how we can help on their next phase of growth.”