LFP248 – The Challenges of FS/Fintech Boards esp in the 21stC w/Neil Holden Serial FS NED

The Governance of FS as a whole affects all of our lives as we saw in 2008 let alone in many individual examples of FS/Fintech businesses failing and losing clients money. In our digital age virtually all of our money is digital and next to no-one sees a share certificate any more so all of our investments are digital. Thus what might appear to be a refined topic for a few is at the heart of all of our lives – money being used for roughly everything and savings equating to money saved for tomorrow.

As a result of this central role of money in economies, Boards in FS have always had to be – lets put this mildly – “rather more careful” than Boards of companies which if they fell over would “domino” not very far. Not only do many FS/Fintechs “take care of” clients money but money itself in the current financial model is created out of thin air by banks.

Add to these long standing issues the ever-increasing burden on Boards as a whole from the always metastasising Regulatory State, ever-greater minutiae in FS per se and the State using companies to enforce social agendas which even a decade ago would have seemed unlikely/bizarre and we have a very challenging cocktail.

Neil has 20 years expe4rience on Boards and Chairing sub-committees of FS and Fintech Boards and is thus well-placed to guide us through this labyrinth.

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LFP247 – The Long Slow Path To Tech Success, Issues Involved and Moral Choices w/Ruzbeh Bach CEO City Falcon

The tech world focuses heavily on the “succeed fast or fail fast” model of tech growth. In part this is as VC firms generally have limited life funds and hence cannot handle slower models but is also as the tech press loves the hype/condemn cycle implicit in this. However generally most businesses do not follow this model. Whilst rapid success comes to a few, for more it takes rather longer and for many its a slow rocky path. After all hottie OpenAI (ClosedAI?) took quite some years to make a noticeable splash.

Ruzbeh founded City Falcon a decade ago and whilst, like us all, preferred rapid success, he has moved into the more marathon development model of the business. I was particularly enamoured of his very human/ethical perspective and clarity of the social costs of the “succeed or fail fast” model – namely that it comes at the price of burning your friends and family and employees just so that you can get onto your next gig as fast as possible.

With a huge desire worldwide to move on from all business being dominated by neoliberalism – you know, the “humans qua just another resource model” (with some virtue signalling perhaps as perfume to cover the heartlessness of seeing people as resources) – this is a good time to dive into the slower model. This slower model is definitely no picnic – the longer you hang out in business or in life the more tsunamis you will have to face.

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LFP246: The Crucial Role of Venture Accelerators – NEDs, Advisors, Mentors, Mentors of Mentors, Angels et al – w/Nic Lenz

The Founder(s) is(are) at the heart of creating something new that literally never existed before.  However they very much do not do this in vacuo needing to entice and hire a team below them but also, less well understood, a team around them. The surround will at some point coalesce into a formal Board (as opposed to a pro forma Board for Day0 – and for many days after – NewCos).

In this episode experienced NED/Advisor/Mentor/Angel Nic Lenz and I discuss experience in this field with particular reference to formerly senior BigCo folk who wish to get involved in the SmallCo world attracted by the creativity, and let’s face it greater fun/thrills&spills but also to educating the first time founder, or potential founder who will naturally realise they need a CTO et al but may think that “the organogram below them and some dosh” is all they need.  It’s certainly the minimum viable organisation but is it the optimal organisation for their personal support/challenge as well as the company’s future?

Both Nic and I have seen countless examples of where the right “grey hair or no hair” experienced folk even though very much part-time contributing to the company can make all the difference between success and failure. We also discuss the challenges of transitioning from BigCo to SmallCo – which applies to both founders and venture accelerators – along with mentoring mentors and the key essences of both sides of the venture creator and the venture accelerator equation.

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LFP245 – Fintech in France w/Louis Carbonnier Co-Founder Hokodo

As always there is a fascinating phenomenon when the globalised world of tech meets the localised worlds of custom, people, rules and regulations. As recently as LFP243 we dived in to the world of tech as a whole in Berlin and today we dive into Fintech in France. Needless to say France is a massive market, well banked and a real venue for Fintech. That having been said there are, as always, some downsides. In this episode we have a fascinating historical, philosophical and very practical conversation about the nature of Fintech in France.

Louis is well-placed to discuss these matters being not only a co-founder of Hokodo which is based in Paris and has more than 100 staff, most of whom are in London.

Furthermore he is very multicultural in a European sense having been brought up as first a German speaker in Champagne and then Strasbourg in Alsace which looks both east and west, not least of which as it has been part of Germany and of France at varying times. He moved from there to Paris and describes the Paris-isation of French students and the de-regionalisation process they go through. Furthermore he has worked in Switzerland – also rather Franco-German as well as the UK. Thus who better to lay out the pros and cons of Fintech in France?

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LFP244 – The Use Of Multiple Models Across The Lending Process w/Jerome Le Luel CEO Triver

In this episode we take the opportunity to talk to one of the most credit risk experienced men in Fintech who has ranged from a dozen years at seminal Capital One through managing Barclay’s £40 bn portfolio, being CRO at Funding Circle to now founding his own Fintech to mechanise further short term SME liquidity financing, Jerome’s stats are that banks automate roughly 5% of this type of lending whereas he believes the vast majority to be automatable.

We discuss what credit risk is in the age of data, automation and Fintechs and dive into the multiplicity of models used in a credit pipeline not just for risk but for wider business management and portfolio management purposes as well as looking at the parameters of automation versus human input. We also look at Jerome’s experience of what is stable about the models value and what is not over significant economic dislocations.

Importantly there are a huge range of uses of credit models above and beyond the simple case of credit risk and Jerome gives us a flavour of these across his own career – a fascinating stat being the incarnation which had 25 models in operation :-!

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2024 New Year Special: A Deeeep Dive Into Creativity and Its Importance In Creating a New World not a New Order

This 2024 New Year Special forms the sixth and final in a series of six (there will be no more) about how technology – and in this episode way wider forces – are changing us directly for the better (read huge software upgrades) in order to overcome, in a velvet revolution, empowered tyrants.

I said in last years 2023 New Year Special that “It is by far the most ambitious, empowering and positive of all suggesting that we use the insanity as a spur in our sides to seek to flee Plato’s cave, escape the Matrix and speed up our path to awakening in search of love, light and healing.”

Well this one jumps that shark and sets out to empower us all to not just be in search of “love and laughter, song and dance” but to create it via giving us perhaps the deepest podcast dive ever (from conventional reality to well beyond) into what creativity is and how we can amplify it manyfold.

How much of today’s, at a narrow level, tech was unknown a century ago? Imagine how much tech in a century from now is unknown today. How do we become explorers of the unknown and make it known?

It has seven sections:

  1. A Recap of the Series of Six LFP Specials to date
  2. The Three Phases of Existence of all Form
  3. Creators
  4. The Fertile Field
  5. The Three keys to Unlocking Infinite Potential
  6. Voices in your Head
  7. Creating a  New World not a New Order

There is a huge shift in consciousness going on now. The old world is dying in front of our eyes. However a new world is arising and there are a phenomenal number of green shoots growing for those who will look and see.

Let us take a journey from disenchantment and toxic metapolitics, and a world that was going down not up  way before the globalists started boiling frogs. to a world of re-enchantment and the most noble of missions, playing our part in designing a world that will be a tribute to us and a blessing to not just our offspring but humanity as a whole.

To create the New World we need to dive deep into the well of creativity and bring up a bucket of fresh water. May this episode inspire you to understand your innate, your divine if your prefer, powers of creativity and their infinite potential.

We all live – or are imprisoned – in the world of the known and the assumed.

Creativity and the three tools we examine in this episode (plus for the racey an additional angle to turbocharge personal creativity and life) is the ONLY way in which we ever change anything.

Creativity unlocks the door that traps us in the super-finite known, in the matrix, in Plato’s Cave and releases us to explore that vaaast world which is the unexplored world of the unknown. 

Do not think that, as you are just a drop of water, this means you are of no significance. Rather remember that a bucket of water left out in the rain gets filled by nothing other than drops of rain. 

Share and enjoy!

LFP243 – The Berlin Tech Scene: A Deep Dive w/Ivan Maryasin CEO Monite

In this Xmas special we zoom out from Fintech to Tech as a whole in one of Europe’s coolest capitals – Berlin. Ivan is a great person to guide us through the scene having spent many years in the Ur-tech hub of San Francisco/Silicon Valley. This also means that he understands both the outsiders perspective on Berlin tech as well as now an experienced and well informed insider.

Ivan honestly lays out both the highs and the lows of being in Tech in Berlin – the good news and the challenges and the somewhat insane (see below) – that he has encountered with his embedded financial infrastructure startup Monite.

A particularly insane quirk of German law is the need to get documents notarised. Ok well so no big deal eh? Well not as such however if you for example do a raise then the notary takes a percentage of the value raised for (a) reading the whole document out to you in German (even if you do not speak German!) and (b) notarising that “yeh he signed it”.

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LFP242 – Fintech in Saudi Arabia and Collective Savings w/Naif AbuSaida CEO Hakbah

Saudi Arabia is a country that increasingly confounds stereotypes and expectations – an example being a YouTuber who has visited every country in the world choosing it for his honeymoon. At the same time it has undergone a phenomenal journey literally in a lifetime from a very low economic standard of living to super-high. As a result, like China, it shares the “relatively blank canvas from which to start Finteching” but equally has it’s own unique issues notably eg in a country with centuries of little wealth and suddenly (on average) excess savings culture and the likes of pension provision are very distinct – or perhaps lacking.

Naif has had a wide and varied career before starting Hakbah a collective savings platform Fintech. Interestingly talking about different social models worldwide P2P was focusing in this “modern” “Western” way on the individual as the “unit of social currency” [and in passing re zeitgeist then became institutionalised on one side (the lending side) and then most became banks). Collective savings were A Big Thing in say the UK for some time where regionally folks would pool savings for others to get mortgages in “Building” (sic) societies. They remain A Big Thing in a still at heart traditional Arabian/Islamic culture.

In this show we dive into some historical and geographical aspects of Saudi Arabia – the 5th largest by land mass in the world in passing. Thence the unique aspects of Fintech in Saudi – one of which is a very rapid pace of development and another a very government-sponsored approach – and finally collective savings in more depth.

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LFP241 – A Deep Dive Into Alternate Asset Investment via Fintech w/Dan Harman CEO Darksquare

Why buy alternative assets? Well in extremis what else would you buy? 😀 Bonds have finished their ca. 40yr bull market and yield well below the rate of inflation. The FTSE to pick one has gone sideways over the past 5 yrs and is not greatly ahead after a decade. And as for UK property it’s soft at best, Gold is going nowhere and so forth.

Naturally as we have touched on both those phenomena are a function of the nature of money, the ’08 crisis, covid insanity, non-stop war and much more which have all messed with the fiscal and monetary base of major western economies.

Anyway even if you keep a core of say equities in your portfolio there must be something more interesting to buy. Besides the self-styled “elites” are busy hoovering up alt. assets bigtime which tells you a thing or two.

Dan has an investment banking alt. asset background and so, as well as founding Darksquare, is well placed to dive into the topic with us.

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LFP240 – Mortgage Decisions In Days Or Even Hours Not Weeks w/Stuart Cheetham CEO Mpowered Mortgages

Back in the 70s getting mortgages took months – there was a mortgage queue (&before techies get over-excited about how “bad” this was it was one of the factors restraining insane bull markets in residential property). Fast forward and the median mortgage in the UK is granted in 19 business days which is still a long time to wait given the stresses associated with the UK legal structure of buying a house. MPowered Mortgages, a regulated mortgage lender in the UK, have reduced this to a median of 3 days to make a decision and are aiming in the next 18mts to make half of those done in a few hours.

Stuart is the CEO of MPowered (and its sister company MQube seller of AI products into regulated industries more globally) and guides us through this astonishing outperformance. Like many a hardcore Fintech founder he has a long history in FS behind him having been CEO of several banks in Asia for Lloyds Bank for many years.

Even so this is no mean achievement as Stuart himself found out recently when he needed a mortgage but – under the “rules” – was not allowed to use his own company to borrow from.

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