Opening session: From L to R Rajesh Agrawal, David Thomas MBE and Michael Izza, ICAEW CEO, speaking.

Disruptive Tech: The Rise of Fintech and Going Global with COBCOE Connect

The COBCOE Annual Conference 2017 was held 27th April at ICAEW, Moorgate Place, London.
It was an excellent half day event, with Speakers and Two Panels, which included a networking lunch.

This year’s annual conference explored the new digital business age and the evolving support structures that aim to help businesses to grow internationally. Paramount issue was about how British Chambers in Europe could support their membership and provide relevant alternative financial solutions to grow their business.

The event kicked off with Opening speech by David Thomas, Executive Chairman COBCOE, who gave the background to the period of uncertainty and the new economic landscape presented by Brexit. COBCOE has recognised the new challenge and has responded by also providing COBCOE Connect, an internet based marketplace to support Exports and Trade Mission challenges.

Next talk was by Michael Izza, ICAEW CEO, who explained that ICAEW has members in 154 countries, with 6,000 members in Europe, with their next Annual Conference in Brussels. He outlined the challenges facing the profession as they sought to provide professional business services. Emerging technologies e.g. Big Data and Analytics. Blockchain with a great potential to transform the landscape, would need a regulatory framework to function effectively. Also Cyber scurity risk needs to be central to business operations.

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London, gave the Keynote speech. He explained his business background and how London had been open and essential to the success of Rational FX. He was appointed 6 days after Brexit, with the mandate to promote #LondonisOpen to International community. Various intiatives undertaken include Innovation Hubs, The Skills for Londoners Capital Fund, The Mayor’s Digital Talent Programme.


Anne-Marie Martin Chief Executive, COBCOE, gave the introduction and start of the Panel Sessions. She said the Annual Conference is a forum to support the British Chambers of commerce in 35 European countries and their 8,000 business members.  COBCOE A trusted, multilateral network driving international trade.


Panel One : The rising world of Fintech

The rising world of Fintech that is changing the financial landscape and responding to the demands from business to provide relevant alternative financial solutions to grow their business

Panel L to R:
Katrin Herrling CEO & Co-Founder, Funding Xchange
Helen Mitchell Fintech specialist at DIT &Director, Blukudu
Rachel Kent, Head of Financial Institutions Group, Hogan Lovells
Patrick Innbach Head of KPMG Technology Growth (moderator)

Ecosystem for on how Banks could work with Fintech startups: Example given – RBS is using EzBob digital platform to make SME funding decisions in 15 mins.   The rise of Challenger Banks: There are now more than 40 and Atom Bank was given as an example. Also the impact of Israeli fintech startups on innovation in the UK financial sector.
London Financial Hub : The SEIS/EIS provided by UK Treasury has been a great incentive for Startups. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a ‘One point’ contact to help Fintech startups. Treasury regulation in 2016 Budget made it mandatory for Banks to refer declined lenders to alternative finance. The ‘Open Bank Data’ framework has been beneficial.

Bank’s core position is being eroded by startups so collaboration and relationships will be affected by this.  An issue about how to sustain collaboration between Banks and Fintech startups would need to resolve the difference in corporate cultures.
Despite the increase in challenger banks the main challenge will actually be from Google, Amazon, Facebook, Uber who have the infrastructure and customer base to take Banking market share.
There is a concern regards how the post Brexit regulatory regime will operate. Topical issues will cover Capital, Risk, Talent, Finance.  Lending issues need to address the risk and underwriting issues. However credit downturns will prove the business model.


Panel  Two : Going Global in 2017 

Going Global in 2017 – Policies, Platforms and People! – exploring how three key drivers for digital solutions for international business collide and interlink.

Panel L to R
Glynis Whiting Managing Partner at TIAO
David Slater Director International Development & Investment, London & Partners                                       Emma Jones Founder, Enterprise Nation
Ray Qudos Head of Sales & Marketing RDX Sports      Kevin Smith KPMG London Region Chairman (moderator)

Case study:
RDX Sports is a UK premier sports brand who have been trading 17 years (100% made in Britain). They only use direct sales channels to consumers. They have experienced rapid growth, the past 4 years, based on using digital and eCommerce platforms. Past 4 years has seen business growth with markets increase from 0% to 65% Export market share. They now export to Europe, Russia, USA.

Enterprise Nation (EN) has led ‘Go Global’ Trade Missions the past 5 years and has understanding of international trade ecosystem. This is impacted by UK Government policy and EN is advocating use of ‘Export Vouchers’, which will provide government subsidised funding for SME t0 take business advice.

The Mayors International Business Programme, for London based Tech companies, provides mentoring, tailored business support and Trade Missions for startups to Export.

Amazon Academy event series are being held in the UK to support SME to export on an eCommerce marketplace. There is a need for Govt to promote and implement it’s Industrial Strategy to grow exports. The use of Open Data from DIT , sourced form HMRC and Industry, is being developed to get credible data that can be used for Export Strategy.

COBCOE Connect provides a digital market place which is effective for Chamber and Internatonal trade companies. It is an effective tool to provide detailed information to shape strategy for taking Trade Missions and complements the personal guidance and network provided by the Chambers.