Charlie is one of London’s greatest serial entrepreneurs – with ground-breaking the Student Room and Market Invoice under his belt, as an MLRO he saw the huge gap in the market for using AI/ML to solve both the Financial Crime problem and businesses problems in risking prison if they get it wrong. Thus he formed ComplyAdvantage in 2014 which now has offices in four countries around the world.
This whole area has many dimensions. First it’s a regulatory necessity – Fintechs, FS and increasingly others (Apple had to pay a big fine recently) need to Do The Right Thing. Second its a huge resource drain, traditionally very manually done. But third the MLRO is the poor bod that will be picked on to go to jail.
How does Fintech/FS handle these challenges?
What can computers and a smart bunch of folks do to solve this in a 21stC way?
All this and more are covered in this episode. Topics discussed include: Continue reading →
In this show we review a decade in Fintech. Although the earliest Fintechs were formed around 2004/5 (WorldFirst, Zopa) many big names formed around 2010 (Funding Circle, Ratesetter, MarketInvoice). The LFP formed started covering the scene in mid-2014, the year of the first London Fintech week and the year that the Fintech word first hit the broadsheets. Using the shownotes at the time as a diary I trace the evolution of the promises, the hopes, the disappointments, the old innovations and the new innovations. Where did it all go?
No long show notes this week – it is a podcast podcast and in listening you can draw your own conclusions – indeed that’s the point of using dozens of real world examples as seen at the time not as seen through the dark glass of memory.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the London Fintech scene and wider UK Fintech scene and to all listeners. Want to know what the next decade might hold? Check out the previous decade and join the dots…!
Creativity springs eternal. Here is yet another new topic, one that no one could have imagined even a couple of decades ago. Litigation crowdfunding gives litigants a new source of funding and investors a totally new investable asset with non-correlated returns. Cormac Leech CEO and co-founder of Axiafunder walks us through this complex landscape.
Litigation Crowdfunding investment is definitely not for the unsophisticated. Barristers rarely assess even the best of cases as having more than ~75% chance of success such are the vagaries of the legal process. Vice versa though, for reasons we shall come onto, investment returns are super-normal and a portfolio of well-managed litigation crowdfunding loans has the possibility of very high returns indeed.
Cormac was last on the show some three years ago, appropriately talking about innovating in P2P. Well here he is having done that big-time.
Financial crime affects us all – oldFS, newFS, citizens. How can businesses control and minimise Financial Crime?
We are joined today by Vishal Marria whose data-driven firm Quantexa has grown super-rapidly and works in this area as well as on other big data issues. Their clients include HSBC and Shell and despite being founded only two and a half years ago, already have offices in London, Brussels, Sydney, Boston, New York, Toronto and Singapore
Financial Crime is obviously an issue that affects Fintechs as well as FS – indeed I have been hearing about fraud since the earliest podcasts but naturally no-one wanted to talk about it (a) to avoid introducing worries in customers minds and (b) to avoid talking about where the castle walls are thick and where they are thin.
“Everyone” frets over financial advice in the Fintech Age. Regulators set out to “protect the consumer”, worthy bodies talk no end about the need to protect “people” (never themselves oddly – generally they imply (/mean) folks of lesser education/wealth) and the rest of us are just confused over the labyrinthine rules around tax, savings and investments.
Needless to say a myriad on rules and regulations and the implicit costs of this suprastructure all act together in a Kafkaesque way to produce the opposite result – known as “the advice gap”.
In Fintechland breathless media and PR firms high on sugar, caffeine and other stimulants promise us a golden era of so-called “roboadvice”.
How to make sense of all this?
I am delighted to be joined today by Dan Kiernan Research Director at Intelligent Partnership “the UK’s leading provider of research, training and events on Alternative Investments” to cut through all this and to give us insights into why advisers are not recommending eg P2P to their clients when it has outperformed bank deposits for more than a decade.
I am delighted to welcome Jake Wombwell-Povey co-founder and CEO of Goji to dive into the fascinating subject of –the Innovative Finance ISA. Goji’s aspiration is to take P2P into new investor markets and their first focus is on providing a white-label/back-office IFISA solution to existing platforms.
The IFISA might be unknown off these shores but here it’s generated plenty of excitement in the P2P community. There are direct impacts of the IFISA (which I had spotted) and some indirect impacts (which I had spotted less).
But for those offshore folks who don’t know what an ISA is, basically UK tax payers have been able to shelter a small amount of investment money every year from tax forever – income or capital gains. It was introduced way back in 1986 by Nigel Lawson under Margaret Thatcher’s government to encourage wider equity ownership. In those days it was called a PEP. Over the past 30yrs the whole thing has got more complicated and changed its name to ISA but the principle of away from the taxman remains. The current limit is £15k per annum.
In the Fintech-emergence year of 2014 George Osbourne announced in his budget that ISA eligibility would be extended to include P2P loans. In the 2015 budget it was confirmed that from 6th April 2016 lenders will be able to hold AltFinance assets in an IFISA.
Since then there has been much work on clarifying where we are – and perhaps preparations are not all entirely in place even a few weeks before the start-line as we will here.
If this all sounds very abstract the excitement stems from the fact that each year it has been estimated that approximately £50bn is invested in ISAs. And you can imagine how keen platforms are to get there paws on a percentage of that.
This is London Fintech Podcast episode 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything. Well a bit of everything anyway. And I have the pleasure to be joined today by – er – myself.
In the now traditional (um – can doing something twice be a tradition?) first podcast of the year step away from diving into a topic with an esteemed guest and take a more top of the mountain view of the landscape.
As it’s a bumper funpack we will cover a whole range of topics all of which pertain to Fintech.
So we start today’s show with the relevance of Star Wars; move on to beer and deep dive into a topic that applies to Fintech and to the whole of our perception of the world, the media – mainstream and indie.
Next a review of key themes from 2015 UK Fintech and finally we wrap up with some thoughts about the future.
In the next episode I’ll be back to the far easier task of asking folks smarter than I the answer to life the universe and everything or at least what’s going on in their corner of the Fintech phenomenon
Platform Black is the UK’s second largest invoice discounting marketplace having traded over 2,000 invoices and recently passing the £100m mark. On the show John Regan an Angel Investor who co-seed-funded PB joins us to discuss its journey and in particular a much-rumoured about (in cognoscenti circles) problem with a default/recovery.
He also takes this chance to talk about crises in general and how to react to them – whether in life (sailing across the Atlantic) or in business.
In a world where most everyone seems to portray themselves as an entrepreneur John is the real deal. He has a track record of building 3 businesses from start up to trade sale. How many folks have done that once let alone three times?
In the bars and bazaars the whispers/gossip goes around about this company or that. As I have indicated before in terms of verticals in fintech the equity crowdfunding scene seems to produce the most [and if you want some gossip check out a very un-fluffy bunny blog on deals and companies in that sector – The Truth About Equity Crowdfunding].
In P2P by far the most rumoured/gossiped about company has been Platform Black – the number two player in the fintech invoice discounting market. I have heard countless stories from countless sources. Plenty of smoke but differing accounts of the fire and how much damage it did. John has kindly come on the show today to dispel the smoke and talk about the fire.
Normally at this point I summarise the main topics of the show.
In a world obsessed with “data” its hard to recall that data is at the bottom of a hierarchy. Above it is information. Above that knowledge. Above that at the top of the tree is wisdom.
This show is about wisdom. That wisdom applies in life and in business and plenty of it in P2P (not least of which the weaknesses of a “true” (Ebay-like) marketplace model). If I summarised it the real juice would get lost – a bit like me saving you going to a performance of Macbeth by telling you it’s about an over-ambitious bloke who egged on by his pushy wife tops a king and it all ends in tears. Thats a summary but you see how it loses most everything.
In a world where Fintechs are on a rapid startup-scaleup-mature company growth curve how does legal risk look? In a totally new scene how can we know how well legal structures may, or may not survive events that have never happened?
I am delighted to be able to be joined today to discuss these issues and more by one of the City’s most prominent Fintech lawyers Jon Segal Partner who heads the Fintech practice at City law firm Fox Williams.
“Tech debt” is a well-known phenomenon in the startup/VC world. In essence you start your business with a spreadsheet, then need to upgrade to an access database, then SQL etc etc. The main point being that unless you are careful you are always in tech-catch-up mode.
In a recent article for AltFi I extended the concept to “Risk Debt” … you do what you have to do but in the exponential growth phase from startup to scaleup to mature company you are once again always playing catch-up.
One of the categories of Risk Debt that is so important it deserves a show in its own right is Legal Debt. Once again you start with some simple dos you downloaded from the net and carry on. Once again you are playing catch-up. Once again you are playing with fire hoping that you don’t fall through the tech/risk/legal holes.
An additional important angle is that in a new sector (a rarity in itself) one never knows how good a legal structure or document is until it is tested in court. Before then its just a bunch of words and some fees.