Investor expectations and the opportunities for FinTech to support ESG developments
We gathered in Edinburgh to deliver the third event in our series dedicated to supporting the FinTech Scotland Research & Innovation Roadmap. Once again we hosted the event alongside lead sponsor Pinsent Masons at their wonderful office space in Edinburgh.
On the agenda this time out was climate finance as we considered “ESG: Investor expectations and the opportunities for FinTech to support ESG developments”
Finance, technology and data will play a fundamental role in addressing the climate change crisis and in powering a more sustainable future. The challenge ahead is huge and the financial services industry must make the right choices and focus research and innovation in key areas in order to deliver maximum impact across the climate transition.
To support investment choices and finance in the market, investors and consumers are looking for better information and credible data and have new expectations of the companies they invest in. Financial regulators are also aiming to influence positive climate outcomes and opportunities through a range of rules, expectations and guidelines.
At the same time equity and debt providers, themselves subject to increasing pressure to fold ESG factors into their investment / lending decisions, are increasingly looking to the ESG credentials of investee companies / borrowers. FinTech companies now need to be able to demonstrate their own ESG credentials in order to attract investment.We heard from a panel of industry leaders as they considered the opportunity to build collaborative climate action across financial services, FinTech and investment communities.
5 key takeaways from the session:
-ESG is important to fintechs for two reasons. One is that it is important to them as a business because it’s going to be important to their customers, and it’s going to be important to them in attracting investors. The second reason why it’s important is because it’s actually an opportunity for FinTechs. It’s a complex area. And there’s an opportunity for fintechs to offer solutions in the ESG space to help others to address the issues concerned.
-The key emerging ESG regulatory standards that fintechs need to be aware of are principally those that are affecting the financial services industry at large. The reason for that is that they are the customers for the FinTech industry, by and large, and so the pressures on those financial players from a regulatory perspective are going to trickle down to the FinTech industry as suppliers to the financial services industry.
-A FinTech business can best integrate sustainability into their organisation through people, policy, process and product. In terms of people engage internally and externally, by policy, having a robust science based policy with targets goals and objectives, with process have defined integrated activities throughout the organisation and products, use them to respond to challenges with new innovations
-One of the key ESG growth areas that fintechs can benefit from is within the data. Gathering data, both from a banking perspective, and better data around accessing finance for things such as housing transition, and also data around investments. Consumers and businesses have multiple touch points and data points when transacting with financial services, so there are lots of opportunities from gathering and utlising this data as well.
-Private equity houses often develop their own frameworks around ESG. Often of primary importance is the governance that a company has in place alongside their culture and the wider impact they are having on society. Environmental issues can often be less of an issue with software and technology companies, as their footprint or impact is usually less significant than other sectors such as manufacturing or energy. However it is still of importance and investors are focused on making conscious decisions about where they are putting their money, considering many factors beyond profit alone.
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Marilena Karanika, Head of Data Innovation, Experian
Marilena Karanika is the Head of Data Innovation at Experian, providing data and analytics support across different product domains such as affordability, credit risk and insurance.
With more than 10 years of experience in Credit Risk Modelling and Analytics in financial services, a key area of her expertise is enabling organisations to make better use of data, reach more informed decisions and support consumers throughout the customer lifecycle. Most recently Marilena and her team created and launched products that helped clients understand the impact of events such as the Cost of Living crisis and COVID to help them navigate these challenging times.
Marilena is passionate about the power of financial education and works with universities and professional bodies to deliver guest lectures and industry talks promoting a better and wider understanding of analytics and responsible data ownership. She has been voted Innovator of the Year 2021 in the Women in Credit Awards.
Vicky Byrom, Chief Data & Analytics Office Officer, Zumo
Vicky has over 20 years experience delivering analytics projects across both private and public sectors, enabling companies to effectively use their data to make better decisions. She currently is the Chief Data & Analytics Officer for the crypto wallet app Zumo, and has previously headed up the data functions within FinTech scale up Modulr. She won the Data IQ award 2019 for Data Analytics leader of the year when she led the multi-award winning Advanced Analytics practice for Merkle UK, and was a member of the AI steering committee for the Scottish Government.
Robert Betts, Executive Director, JP Morgan
Robert is a non-typical thinker. He is an Open Source and inclusive workplace advocate. A dotcom veteran with many years of experience across Finance, Banking, Investment Management and Fintech startups. Currently an Executive Director at JPMorgan Chase, Asset and Wealth Management and serving as the Regional lead for Managed Accounts, Client Data and Client Service Technology. Data has been central throughout much of his career from postulating on e-commerce
possibilities through personalisation in the 90’s to rolling out investment personalisation at scale today. Data regulation, distribution, aggregation, security are daily challenges he faces when growing teams and building platforms to service the needs of customers.
Gordon Jackson, Head of Personalisation Products, Natwest
Gordon is Head of Personalisation Products at Natwest. He is an established leader of customer experience and digital transformation through data, analytics and marketing platforms. In his current role his work is focused on improving the ability of Natwest to personalise customer experiences through advanced analytics and technology. He is actively involved in development and execution of strategy to create partnerships and offer data products to the market.
In previous roles at Natwest he has helped to scale an innovation start up from 15k customers to a set of products that are used to create personalised experiences for all Retail, Wealth and Commercial customers across the organisation's entire portfolio. He has led a number of teams of highly skilled product designers, engineers, data scientists and cloud platform developers.
Robin Huggins, Client Services Director, MBN Solutions (Event Chair)
As Director of Client Services for MBN Solutions, Rob has spent over two decades at the sharp end of Talent Acquisition practice for the Data sector. During this time, he has partnered with some of the UK’s leading data-driven businesses to deliver best-in-class talent solutions. In addition, working in an advisory capacity, Rob designed, built, and delivered the Data Lab’s MSc Placement Programme, has contributed to forums including Scotland’s AI Strategy and DMA Council and sits on University of Glasgow’s School of Maths & Stats Industrial Advisory Board. A regular data industry blogger and event host, Rob also now hosts a data leadership focussed podcast called Boss’n’Data and has been recognised by Data IQ as one of their 100 most influential Data and Analytics practitioners in UK organisations for two years running.
On the 12 May 2022 we were joined by guests from across the FinTech ecosystem in Scotland to discuss “Growing FinTech in Scotland”.
The event was kindly hosted by Data Talent Specialists, MBN Solutions, and we were joined by speakers from Fintech Scotland, Access Fitech, and Soar to hear from industry leaders about the challenges and opportunities for building and scaling a FinTech business in Scotland.
The main takeaways from the event included:
-The FinTech Scotland Research and Innovation Roadmap will form the industry strategy for the FinTech sector here for the next 10 years, with a focus on 4 key areas; Financial Regulation, Payments & Transactions, Open Finance Data, Climate Finance.
-There is no room for complacency from the cluster – Scotland must continue to push forward with more research, collaboration and innovation to continue the growth of the sector and to make Scotland the first choice destination for anyone who wants to scale up a Fintech business.
-There are still many challenges facing the industry, none more so than attracting and retaining talent. Small FinTech firms need to give consideration to how they can compete with larger financial institutions who are now starting to hire inhouse teams for their technology projects.