Political discord, uncertainty, rapid change to the country’s prospects every day – this is the present state of Britain. To top it all off, the latest survey from IHS Markit suggests that a new recession is possible, with economic growth slipping over the recent period.
The UK is at a crucial point. How we respond now will shape our economic development in the coming decades.
And yet, even with the stakes so high, the government is fully occupied by political manoeuvres and delivering Brexit. Parliament is being suspended. We simply cannot expect politicians to do the heavy lifting when it comes to securing economic prosperity.
Amid such unpredictability, business must take the lead. And with progress at risk of slowing in these uncertain times, that industry effort should be spearheaded by the fastest-growing sector of our economy: fintech.
The vibrancy of the UK’s financial services sector, particularly in London, is the lifeblood of our wider economy, providing the capital that stimulates growth and enables emerging industries to thrive. Technology has magnified this – for consumers and businesses alike.
The rapid rise of fintech has led to its proactive adoption by our financial institutions, which are now also creating their own world-leading solutions. Thanks to the UK’s reputation, we can now set global standards on the international stage for democratising finance and inspiring financial inclusion solutions.
Make no mistake – the likes of China, the US and Singapore are on the rise as fintech ecosystems. But no country has yet managed to replicate what the UK has. Leveraging our historical financial services pedigree, global connections, and progressive regulators has proven a winning formula.
But with Britain’s relationship with the rest of the world in flux, there’s no room for complacency. We must build on this position of unmatched credibility, unrivalled reputation and global leadership, which will in turn facilitate the UK’s ability to strike key international relationships and sustain economic growth.
To succeed, we need to tap into all the ambition and vision that got us here.
That starts with winning the global race for talent. The UK needs a strong domestic talent pipeline with the correct blend of skills – computer science, engineering, and finance – which together will accelerate growth.
The politicians may be preoccupied, but businesses can lead by coordinating their own programmes, as well as working with schools and universities to inspire the next generation to retain their stem skills, become innovators, and understand the opportunity in financial services.
It is equally vital that the sector has sufficient flexibility to attract talent from abroad. This means encouraging those with advanced skills to choose the UK to develop their careers.
More can be done by fast-tracking the visa process – breaking down restrictions for high-growth businesses to hire efficiently and scale in the UK rather than go elsewhere.
That will require the government to act, so the industry should be decisive on exactly what is needed, making a clear case to busy politicians that can cut through the noise.
Businesses also need to look beyond London and support companies across the UK, investing in innovation centres to work alongside universities to stimulate progress at a local level.
Innovate Finance just co-launched the fintech National Network for hubs around the country to connect on talent and investment. If we can combine this network with local and central government support, as well as access to patient capital to scale fintech companies, just imagine the future.
Innovation has enhanced global respect for the UK’s finance sector. It is vital that the industry does not allow itself to be delayed and distracted by political turmoil.
Instead, we must embrace fintech’s key role in the economy, be bold about the future of the sector, and set the foundations for economic success in years to come.