US growth investor Motive Partners has chosen Canary Wharf as a home for its new European hub.
The firm, which focuses on fintech investments and has already made two deals, said it was “essential” to have a base in London due to its status as a fintech capital.
“You can’t claim to be an important investment management or private equity player in financial technology if you’re not at the epicentre, which is London,” said Motive’s Rob Heyvaert.
The 14,000 square foot office will help to drive collaborative projects between established financial giants and new fintech players.
It will be a physical home for the fintech teams of firms such as Royal Bank of Scotland, Mastercard and Allied Irish Bank.
"We wanted to have a space where we could bring in banks, startups, guys and girls with ideas, technology specialists in the industry, and we felt that Canary Wharf – given what it represents for the banking world – was the right way to go about it," said co-founding partner Alberto Corvo.
Already Motive has made investments in Lmrkts, a data algorithmics company which helps banks reduce their exposure to each other, and an as-yet unnamed private banking platform. Before the end of the year, Motive plans to have invested in between four and six companies.
According to Heyvaert, the firm will be particularly focused on financial infrastructure. This may not be surprising considering the backgrounds of the partners – Heyvaert himself has helped to develop a real-time capital markets settlement engine and transaction processing technology, while Corvo worked on the first commercially successful technology suite for internet banking.
Though Motive is by definition an investment platform, its partners are keen to see the firm as not the traditional "few guys looking at a spreadsheet and making investment decisions". Instead, it prides itself on giving operational and hands-on help to its portfolio companies.
Why come to London?
Before opening its own office last night, Motive formerly used temporary office space at Level39, the Canary Wharf Group-owned fintech membership club.
The organisation, which consists of around 1,250 people from 48 different countries working for around 280 different companies, allows large and small firms to interact while also offering shared workspaces.
"The world is beating a path to London's door," said Ben Brabyn, head of Level39. "It's really important that we don't take that for granted, and we must all work hard to develop that position, but Canary Wharf is – according to a Milken Institute report – at the heart of the most productive part of Europe. That's of value to the whole of Europe."
While based in the Level39 office, Motive was convinced of London's status as a fintech centre – and Heyvaert believes the city will "absolutely" hold its own in the face of Brexit.
"The talent is here, the banks are here – it's a much harder job to shift that from one place to another," he said.
"We feel that the regulators and the people in government are doing everything they can where fintech might be that exception [to a post-Brexit struggle]."