From the rise of AI to ongoing changes in financial regulation, from equitable access to financial services to the opening of access to personal financial data – the financial services sector currently faces many challenges and opportunities.

That’s why a team of four leading universities (Bristol, West of England, Glasgow, and Glasgow Caledonian) has collaborated with SETsquared, FinTech West, and prominent industry partners to deliver a timely new business and innovation support programme for the sector, ‘Future Finance’.

The programme aims to enable the financial services sector to adopt new technologies, strategies, and processes in order to unlock more effective product and service design, increase productivity and profitability, attract and retain new talent and clients, and become more sustainable and inclusive.

Initially rolling out as a pilot in Bristol, Bath, and Glasgow, Future Finance will extend the scheme to other financial services clusters across the UK in late 2024. This will address the productivity gap between London, which is already at the epicentre of global fintech disruption, and level up regional areas in the UK with emerging or established financial services ecosystems.

Amongst many others, industry backing comes from NatWest, Deloitte, Burges Salmon, Hargreaves Lansdown, and FinTech West. Key to delivery, Future Finance has also partnered with organisations focused on increasing access to finance within their communities.

Nicola Anderson, CEO of FinTech Scotland, echoes the importance of the programme, stating, “We are delighted to support Future Finance as it provides fantastic collaboration opportunities between established financial firms and fintechs from all around the UK.

The programme provides a platform for incumbents to learn about the latest technology advances and collaborate with fintechs from Scotland and the rest of the UK, accelerate innovation and drive better customer outcomes.

Collaborations between our two Glasgow-based university partners and their English counterparts which will enable participating organisations to build networks outside of their regional base. We encourage both established financial service organisations and fintechs to make the most of the opportunity.”

Alongside working directly with financial services organisations, Future Finance looks to explore the barriers faced by individuals for whom challenges such as poor credit records, lack of digital capabilities, skills, and awareness of available services present barriers to the effective day-to-day management of their own finances.

Working collaboratively with communities, financial services, and technology providers, it is hoped Future Finance will pave the way for the development of new bespoke products and services that can support access for the underserved.

Professor Sharon Collard, Chair in Personal Finance, University of Bristol, says: “Lack of access to financial services for sections of the community and geographical areas in the UK is extremely damaging. In rural areas and smaller towns, it’s getting harder and harder to access physical banking and financial services.

This affects the most vulnerable in our communities, limiting their ability to save, invest and access credit and ultimately break out of poverty cycles. The opportunity to address these challenges through this programme is incredibly exciting.”

Central to the delivery of Future Finance is the rollout of ‘Accelerator’-style support for any financial service organisation or fintech. From the launch date (17 April), businesses will be able to access free advice in areas such as IP, investment, financial regulation, and product development, alongside an initial offering of training programmes in change management, innovation readiness, and leadership.

Future Finance will also provide the opportunity for regular networking events that will encourage traditional financial services organisations to discuss and collaborate with fintechs and technology providers.

Alongside the delivery of the Accelerator, a team of academic and industry collaborators will be working to delve into the challenges and opportunities facing the sector, providing opportunities for businesses in the Accelerator to get paid for research participation, and ensuring that the support measures put in place are current and meet the needs of the community.

Marty Reid, Interim Executive Director, SETsquared, says: “We urge financial services businesses to get involved. It’s always hard to find the time to engage in additional activities, but this programme could transform the way you work, and there’s funding available to get involved at the very first stage.

We’re excited about the potential to roll this out across the UK, as the impact extends not only to the companies it will support but also to improving and opening up access to financial services to the end user.”

Financial services companies interested in getting involved can register their interest via the website and the team will get in touch to provide further information and access to the network.


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