Sky News reported on Sunday night that it has learnt the identity of the person responsible for guiding the UK fintech sector through Brexit. According to the reporting, Natalie Ceeney, ex-Financial Ombudsman Service chief, will be in charge of this challenging role.
Taking on the challenge
Natalie Ceenie is to become the new chairman of Innovate Finance, with the appointment likely to be made sometime next week. Ceeney will replace current leader Alastair Lukies. Lukies himself is a fintech entrepreneur and his payments firm Monitise went public on the London Stock Market in 2007.
Ceenie has previously been in charge the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the head of HM Courts and Tribunal Service and the HSBC. In her role at the FOS, she helped hold banks accountable during the PPI miss-selling scandal. She now faces another tough challenge ensuring the fintech sector can make a success out of Brexit – an issue that is already stirring emotions in the country.
Furthermore, Sky News sources told she has been chosen for the role due to her experience of the UK financial sector during the transformative period of rapid technological change.
What is Innovate Finance?
The organisation Ceenie is taking over is a not-for-profit organisation created to promote the fintech sector. It has been operating since 2014 and its members include the P2P lender Zopa and the crowdfunding platforms Seedrs and Vocalink. Its members also include famous industry players such as Deloitte and the City law firm Hogan Lovells.
Fintech to help drive the post-Brexit economy?
The fintech sector is expected to have a key role in ensuring the UK economy doesn’t suffer too much from the consequences of leaving the European Union. Current trends suggest many major banks are relocating some UK-based jobs elsewhere and the fintech sector is hoped to help fill the vacancies.
Already, Barclays has unveiled its plans to create technology jobs in the UK by opening one of Europe’s biggest fintech co-working spaces in London. Last month, the Chancellor Philip Hammond reassured fintech companies that Brexit wouldn’t affect them too much. Sky News quoted him stating, “We will have to strive and graft and fight to seize the opportunities and make the most of them. That means growing and strengthening the areas – like fintech – in which we enjoy a competitive advantage…while we need to continue to attract the brightest and the best from around the world to these shores.”
Stagnant startup investment after Brexit vote
Furthermore, the UK’s startup investment has maintained a stagnant outlook after decreasing immediately after the Brexit vote last June. According to the data by investment tracking platform Beauhurts, investment increased in the UK during the first quarter of 2017 by 2.2%. However, the quarterly improvement is still lagging behind the levels of investment during the same period in 2016.
In terms of startup funding, the fintech sector has been attracting the most investment, closely followed by life sciences and medical technology. In addition, while equity funding is stagnant, crowdfunding campaigns have been increasing their deal numbers and deal amounts.