UK fintech needs more than just London: Manchester and Northern Powerhouse cities are the next hubs

Eileen Burbidge
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Manchester and other northern cities are fintech hubs too (Source: Getty)

By some accounts the UK already leads the world in fintech – technology for the financial services sector. Much of this stems from the fact that London has always been one of the world’s leading financial centres, is home to 300 of the world’s banks and counts more than 130,000 knowledge workers in its financial services sector.

However, many of the ingredients which propelled London to the forefront of fintech are also prevalent in other UK hubs – which gives us the opportunity to strengthen our lead and reinforce it with an ecosystem that includes the regions, including of course Manchester.

At the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, Manchester has a talented workforce with the right mix of digital skills and financial services experience. The city boasts the largest student population in Europe, counting more than 105,000 students across four universities, a growing financial services sector and the creation of key business hubs to further spur innovation, such as the £950m MediaCityUK development.

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And obviously like London, the city also benefits from the GMT/BST time zone which is so crucial for financial transactions enabling the ability to trade with both the Americas and Asia within the same business day, as well as one of the world’s most progressive regulatory environments reflecting the UK Government’s commitment to encourage competition, improve customer experience, expand financial inclusion and fuel innovation in the sector.

It is, therefore, extremely encouraging to see the fintech trade body Innovate Finance forge a new connection in Manchester as part of its regional strategy to unite and promote technology hubs across the UK. This marks a significant step towards supporting one of the UK’s largest financial services centres as well as its local technology startups that are helping to create a better financial market.

The organisation will join Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of the Manchester City Council and Claire Braithwaite, head of tech north for a ceremonial event at the Barclay’s RISE workspace – a gathering to mark the start of a unique partnership that creates stronger ties between London and Manchester’s expanding fintech clusters. This follows Innovate Finance’s efforts and events to also bridge the Leeds and Edinburgh fintech hubs with London earlier in the year.

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Given London’s long-standing position as one of the leading financial centres of the world, it’s natural that digital innovation for and within financial services will therefore also emanate from London. However, the UK has a tremendous opportunity to leverage that position and further dominate global value creation by tying London in with other fintech centres across the whole of the UK. Milestones such as today’s event in Manchester will go a long way to cementing our nation’s leadership in the £20bn fintech sector.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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