I always love it when we find innovation in unexpected places, not just in the financial products and channels and regulatory issues we discuss, but also in people inventing new ways to get things done.
Today’s guests talk about taking a very old kind of entity -- the industry trade association -- and updating it for the 21st century financial world. As often happens with innovation, the thing that’s new is actually very simple, maybe even obvious, and yet when you set it in motion, things change.
That’s what has happened in the UK in 2014 with the creation of a new trade group called Innovate Finance. As its name conveys, it focuses on fintech innovation. What makes it so innovative and interesting to me, though, is that it has drawn members from the whole financial innovation ecosystem. They have startups, and also banks, and also the other players in the space like consulting and law firms, all actively working with regulators -- and with like-minded companies and governments throughout the world -- all on the same issues at the same time.
My guests are the group’s CEO, Charlotte Crosswell, as well as Dan Morgan. At the time of our recording, Dan was the head of policy for Innovate Finance. He has since moved on to be the FinTech Sector Specialist at the UK Department for International Trade, still working on the same issues. His move was already in progress when we recorded this episode, and I’m glad we were able to get his thinking into the dialogue.
When I find myself admiring innovation outside the U.S., I always have to note that other countries have a simpler system than we do here, in terms of both industry structure and regulatory framework. Our listeners have often heard me worry that the U.S. system, and especially our multi-agency federal regulatory design, is holding us back. The UK has both a less complex banking system and basically only two regulators, which has clearly helped make them the world leader on the regulatory side of innovation (I’ll link to our podcasts with two of their top regulators in the show notes) and also one of the leaders in fintech, too. It may be that this regulatory environment is one reason that Innovate Finance could form around the full spectrum of financial entities.
In the US, our established trade associations are of course working hard to address both industry and policy issues in fintech and regtech. We’ve also had new trade groups form in the last few years, organized by fintechs and/or by big tech companies interested in the financial space. So far, though, we don’t have anything like Innovate Finance (although I know a few people thinking about starting one).
Whatever structures emerge over time, I think everyone can learn lessons from how Innovate Finance operates, and especially how it brings both incumbents and newbies into the very same discussions, the same problem-solving, together. The more I work with financial innovation, the more I know for sure that the main solution is in collaboration. Choose your metaphor -- it can be breaking down silos, or cross-pollination, or weaving separate strands together. The only way to figure out what to do, and to move quickly, is by getting the disparate kinds of players together, all the time, as a new way of life.
So, you’re going to enjoy hearing Charlotte’s and Dan’s thinking. They talk about the secrets to making this happen, why it’s easier in the UK, and why it’s getting easier for banks to innovate (hint -- that too is about breaking silos). They describe regulators who are not merely accepting change, but are helping to drive it proactively, and who have explicitly adopted an “ecosystem” approach. They describe an emerging world of shared problem-solving in areas like AML, identity and consumers owning their own data. They talk about trends among regulators around the world.
Importantly, they also describe their upcoming conference, the IFGS -- Innovate Finance Global Summit in London, March 19-20. I spoke last year and will this year again, and can say with confidence it’s one of the world’s very best. It will be back again in the beautiful, historic Guild Hall, where somehow old and timeless meets new and thrilling in a very happy mix.
More on Charlotte
Charlotte Crosswell is CEO of Innovate Finance. She has spent most of her financial services career in market infrastructure roles, including as CEO of Nasdaq NLX (“NLX”), a London-based startup derivatives market, and serving on the board of LCH Ltd. She’s also held management positions at Nasdaq and London Stock Exchange across international capital markets, equities, xed income, OTC derivatives trading and clearing. In addition to her current work with Innovate Finance, Charlotte advises and sits on the boards of a number of technology and FinTech startups. She holds a BA with honors in French from the Southampton University and has been included in the list of top 100 Women in Finance over many years.
More on Dan
Dan Morgan is the FinTech Sector Specialist at the UK Department for International Trade. At the time we recorded this episode he was Head of Policy and Regulation at Innovate Finance, where he led development of member policy specialist groups in digital currencies and Blockchain, payments, access to finance and data. Dan also led the Innovate Finance FinTech 2020 Manifesto and secretariat support for the FinTech APPG. He previously held senior policy roles at a number of business groups including the CBI, BRC and ABI. Dan has worked across a range of sectors and policy areas including insurance, SME finance and retail tax reform.
- Podcast with Sanjay Jain
- Podcast with UK regulator Chris Woolard
- Podcast with UK regtech lead Nick Cook
More for our listeners
Here are some of the shows coming up. We’ll have Cross River Bank CEO Gilles Gade, talking about the “sponsor bank” model for fintechs working with banking partners. We’ll be back in London with the CEO of Starling Bank, Anne Boden. We also have conversations with Michael Wiegand, who heads the Gates Foundation’s work on financial services for the poor. Back in the US we’ll have shows Nerd Wallet CEO Tim Chen and the CEO’s of two community banks.
I hope to see you at upcoming events including:
- CFSI’s Fintech and the Federal Government: How Policymakers and Startup Companies are Exploring Financial Innovation, March 15, U.S. Senate, Washington
- Innovate Finance Global Summit, March 19-20, London, UK
- Regulation and Innovation in the Age of FinTech, with FSD Africa, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance and RegHub, March 22-23, London, UK
- Lendit Fintech USA, April 9-11, San Francisco, CA
- Texas Bankers Association Annual Conference, May 3, Houston, Texas
- Bank Director, The Reality of Regtech, April 18, New York, NY
- Texas Banker’s Association Annual Conference, May 3, Houston, TX
- Woman Corporate Directors Global Institute, May 10, New York, NY
- Comply 2018, May 16, New York
- CFSI’s EMERGE, June 6-8, Los Angeles, CA
- American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference, June 26, Nashville -- I’ll be moderating a general session panel on regulation and AI, and also teaming up again with the ABA for some special podcasts.
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