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UK gets Australian fintech vote of confidence - despite Brexit worries

by Lewis Panther SA FIN | 04 Mar 2019

Tech sector start-ups in Australia have given a vote of confidence to the UK - despite the uncertainty over Brexit. 500 UK gets Australian fintech vote of confidence - despite Brexit worries
A batch of businesses are ploughing ahead with investment into the country they still see as being at the Fintech heart of the Europe.

It is also clear the British government is keen to see Australian entrepreneurs developing their ideas there.

Even though Theresa May has been struggling to build a consensus over a political way forward - with the EU exit date later this month looming - trade talks aimed at encouraging Australian investment into the UK have been ongoing.

More attractive corporate tax rates and generous enterprise investment schemes would certainly have been under discussion when the UK's Asia Pacific trade commissioner Natalie Black visited Sydney last month.

Here some of those start-ups who are putting down roots in the UK gave their reasons why.

James Butland, Airwallex - VP for Global Banking, who is based in the UK, highlighted the company’s reasoning for backing Britain.

Q1. Given the uncertainty over Brexit, why have you chosen to invest in the UK?

A1. The UK still represents the Fintech heart of Europe, since the announcement that the UK will be leaving the European Union, there has not been an exodus of companies or investment as predicted. In 2018 the UK retained its top 3 spot for Fintech investment with an 18% increase to 3.3bn USD, highlighting that even in uncertain times, the UK is still a world leader in Fintech. 

For Airwallex, the UK is a strategically important market for its expansion plans in Europe, nowhere else on the continent offers the combination of top tier talent, a progressive regulator and diverse client base as the UK. 

Q2. As historically there have been strong links between Australia, New Zealand and the UK - with many workers spending time there, especially professionals in London - would you recommend it as a place to relocate to for work.

A2. The UK remains close links with Australia and New Zealand and has a similar working culture, the UK differentiates in that its at the cross-roads of Global Commerce between the US and APAC. Regardless of Brexit, the UK still remains one of the world's leading financial centres and will continue to do so, it is a great location for international experience in a Financial firm. Away from the office it also offers the chance to travel throughout Europe at weekends, something which is much harder to do when based in Australia/New Zealand. 

Mark Bolton, UK general manager, was equally positive when he  answered the same two questions put to him by FINSIA about the reasons for betting on the UK.

“We have already had strong interest from UK and we feel that as one of the world's leading training marketplaces, we should have an equally strong local presence in this market.  The interest to date has come in an environment of a lot of uncertainty and for us it underlines the fact that local businesses will be looking for innovative ways to train their workforces.   

“We are only weeks in to our adventure over here but yes, there are great career opportunities alongside and some amazing experiences in store for us as a young family. And with the strong financial services economy in London, the new office makes sense given GO1’s fit for financial services professional development, and continuing training requirements in that industry.”

Mentorloop co-founder and COO, Heidi Holmes, is bullish about moving in on the UK market despite the uncertainty.

“We’ll certainly be keeping across the negotiation conversations in the lead up to the UK’s exit, but to be honest, at the end of the day it’s business as usual for us.

“There are many moving parts concerning the UK’s political future - if we were to wait for the political uncertainty to settle down, we might never take that next step and expand into the UK market!

“Twelve months ago 10% of Mentorloop’s client base was from outside Australia, it’s now at 22% and a huge part of that shift is a result of our clients in the UK, such as the BBC, Sky, Just Eat, Quilter, Xero and Bupa. Not only is the UK an awesome market in itself, it’s the gateway to Europe (when the timing is right for us) and puts us in a convenient time zone to service North America.

“Regardless of what happens with Brexit, mentoring will still be relevant to organisations and their people. In fact, we believe where there is uncertainty, mentoring can actually provide people with a sense of belonging and purpose. It grounds people and provides a level of comfort and support knowing they have someone to turn to - leading to a more engaged workforce and easing employee retention concerns for all levels of business.

“There’s the usual amount of admin and compliance in getting a business set-up in a new market, but our recent trip as part of the Tech Rocketship award has provided some insight of how to manage this effectively and efficiently. The support of the UK’s Department for International Trade has been amazing and we will continue to utilise their services in the lead up to the eventual move. 

“The Tech Rocketship award has not only enlightened us to what’s on offer, we’ve also been able to connect with some amazing Aussie founders who have walked this path before us - having access to this sort of peer network has been invaluable.

“At the end of the day we could continue to service a global market from Australia but there is nothing like having feet on the ground to accelerate the process and our learning. 

“There is no replacement for being able to meet clients in person, understand the problems they’re trying to solve, and really listen to their perspective to build the best possible mentoring experience. Expanding our presence is a natural inevitability to ensuring we fulfil our vision of being the number one global platform to find and connect with a mentor.”

To hear more about Brexit from a British business point of view look out for FINSIA’s upcoming Webinar: Brexit – What does it mean for Australia and New Zealand? on 19 March when Simon Culhane, CEO, Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) from the UK and Australian British Chamber of Commerce’s CEO David McCredie will be giving their expert opinions on what is about to happen in Europe.

640x250 N885 Bexit webinar - banner for holding slides


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