Within Central Scotland, Financial Technology – more commonly termed “FinTech” – is seeing a surge of growth, with new enterprises launching, international firms moving to Scotland and established technology firms developing new FinTech products.
In the North East, Financial Technology is experiencing the same vast growth but for many industry professionals, “FinTech” is still a relatively new concept. For those readers who may be unfamiliar, FinTech is a catch-all term for provision of financial services via modern technology. Permeating all sectors, implementation of FinTech can significantly benefit and change the operations of a business by a number of means, including faster monetary transactions, improved customer experience and streamlining of processes.
FWB Park Brown, in partnership with FinTech Scotland and the University of Aberdeen Business School recently hosted “Aberdeen does FinTech” at the Opportunity North East’s Tech Hub. The evening providing an exploratory introduction into all things FinTech – the corporates embracing it, the entrepreneurial landscape, the academics pioneering FinTech and the organisations supporting the FinTech agenda.
Hosted by Stephen Ingledew, CEO of FinTech Scotland, as part of Scotland’s FinTech Festival, the discussion of the evening centred conceptually around whether Aberdeen can do FinTech. In 2018, Paymentsense, one of Europe’s fastest growing FinTech companies, named Aberdeen as the best UK city to start a business in. For many years, the North East of Scotland has acted as a hub of industry activity – but what in particular does Aberdeen have to offer in this new age of digitalisation?
At present, Aberdeen is home to over 6000 people working in technology-centric roles – across a number of technology specific companies and embedded within the oil and gas industry. Coding and digital skills are, of course, vital to the digital sector but even those individuals not in “tech” roles have skills which are important moving forward – data analysis skills, strong business acumen and the ability to visualise digital concepts are all highly desirable attributes for potential digital candidates.
From a commercial perspective, businesses can attract digital talent by providing internal opportunities for diversification and evolution. Much like the growing focus on the energy transition, it is vital for businesses to evolve to meet changing consumer needs by the implementation of new technologies. It is key that businesses act with agility and change the way they approach innovation. Unfortunately, the alternative to growth and evolution is failure – such as in the case of Blockbuster, who when presented with the opportunity to buy Netflix in 2000, famously refused predominantly on the basis that the technology seemed unfathomable at the time. Use of FinTech is becoming the new normal with technologies like GoFundMe and Apple Pay permeating our everyday lives.
The future for Aberdeen is not predetermined, however it is essential we are not complacent and recognise there will be an evolution of our core industry, as well as the foresight to encourage diversification and investment from emerging sectors and industries who have a willingness to invest in our local economy. Aberdeen can either watch as the industry shapes around us or participate and contribute to shaping the future of the North East.
John Cameron is a Director at FWB Park Brown