Insights from EY UK: fintech growth, investment trends, and regulatory changes

Thursday 20 June 2024 08:05 CET | Editor: Alin Popa | Interview

Tom Bull, EY’s UK Head of Fintech Growth, shares insights on the current state of fintech investment in the UK, emerging trends, and regulatory changes in the fintech industry.


Tom, can you please provide some details about your professional background and role at EY?

I have worked at EY for 20 years in the UK financial services practice and have been in the fintech space for the past seven years – currently as EY’s UK Head of Fintech Growth. I am also a member of the FCA’s Innovation Advisory Group (IAG) – a forum bringing fintech and regtech sectors together to discuss innovation opportunities and challenges.

What were some of the key takeaways from IFGS 2024? In your opinion, what are the hottest topics or trends that industry professionals should keep a close watch on based on discussions at the Summit?

At this year’s IFGS there was rich discussion around the opportunities and challenges that come with fintechs entering the scale-up phase. One of the key challenges is that amidst rapid growth and innovation, the focus of fintech firms is often on short-term growth rather than sustainable, long-term expansion. 

We conducted research with UK fintech CEOs and found that as firms mature, the board plays an increasingly essential role in driving sustainable, long-term growth, and that there is opportunity for fintechs to put more strategic consideration around the construct and governance of their boards. 

Key to an effective fintech board is having a diverse range of skills and experience, and our research found particular gaps in Gen AI and fundraising capabilities currently across firms. Discussion at the summit centred around best practice examples and how fintechs could build effective boards that would be future-fit as they scale and mature.

How do you perceive the current state of fintech investment in the UK? Are there any key trends or shifts in investment strategies? 

Investment into UK fintech remains strong by global standards, however, levels are lower than those seen immediately post-pandemic when pent-up demand triggered a spike in investment. 

UK fintech remains an attractive proposition to the global markets – particularly with investors from the US and increasingly the Middle East. We are also beginning to see signs of economic recovery in the UK, and provided inflation continues to fall and if interest rates are cut this year as expected, investment levels in UK fintech may rise over the coming months.

What are investors currently focusing on or betting on within the fintech space? Are there any emerging sectors or niches that are gaining significant attention from investors?

The high interest rate environment and cost of capital has meant B2C propositions that have high marketing costs to attract customers have become somewhat less appealing to investors. As a result, some B2C firms have pivoted to a B2B2C model – offering solutions to businesses as well as consumers – to generate more reliable and sustainable revenues. 

In doing this, firms are particularly targeting financial institutions, as relationships to help scale solutions are often already established. This trend of shifting to B2B offerings will likely continue as banks look to fintechs to help them enhance their digital offerings to customers.

What are some key trends that have emerged across the fintech sector over the past year? And which trends do you believe hold the most promise and importance moving forward?

Open Banking, Open Finance, Generative AI and digital assets have continued to evolve the Fintech landscape over the past year – both in the UK and further abroad. Open Banking allows financial data to be shared between banks and third-party service providers through application programming interfaces (APIs). The adoption of Open Banking has been steadily increasing over a number of years, and it is now truly at a point of inflection. The Open Finance framework – which gives consumers control of all of their financial data – appears poised for development and has the potential to transform the way firms build and offer solutions, helping consumers understand and manage their finances holistically.

Generative AI, which has been rapidly adopted over past 18 months, will continue to underpin digital transformation in the fintech sector over the coming years – revolutionising products, processes and customer support. In particular, we expect to see solutions that automate financial analysis, drive efficiencies in customer engagement, and support process optimisation. 

Digital assets continue to spark intellectual curiosity and – in many cases – tangible development across the sector. Some financial institutions are taking inspiration from the crypto asset industry, evolving propositions for institutionalised markets. For example, UK banks are exploring tokenised versions of commercial bank deposits through the Regulated Liability Network (RLN), which will provide opportunities for fintechs who want to build applications on the technology.

What regulatory changes do you anticipate in the fintech industry? How might these regulatory changes impact fintech companies and the broader financial ecosystem?

The Operational Resilience Framework, which will be implemented in March 2025, will be a key regulatory shift for the UK financial services firms, including fintechs. With the implementation deaadline now less than year away, it is important that fintechs review how they prevent, respond to and recover from operational disruptions. Compliance with the Operational Resilience Framework can also bring efficiencies, and can integrate with other existing frameworks, including business continuity, non-financial risk (NFR) and third-party risk.

About Tom Bull

Tom has worked at EY for 20 years in the UK financial services practice and have been in the fintech space for the past seven years – currently as EY’s UK Head of Fintech Growth. He is also a member of the FCA’s Innovation Advisory Group (IAG) – a forum bringing fintech and regtech sectors together to discuss innovation opportunities and challenges.

About EY

EY exists to build a better working world, helping to create long-term value for clients, people and society and build trust in the capital markets. Enabled by data and technology, diverse EY teams in over 150 countries provide trust through assurance and help clients grow, transform and operate. Working across assurance, consulting, law, strategy, tax and transactions, EY teams ask better questions to find new answers for the complex issues facing our world today.

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Keywords: financial services, growth markets, generative AI, funding
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Companies: EY
Countries: United Kingdom
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech


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