Arguably no other sector illustrates this impact of modern technology on international business better than the finance industry, trying to deliver modern solutions for what is essentially traditional business. 

The FinTech sector offers huge disruptive potential to deliver new business models and new ways of working. Large, established, multinational corporations are seeking faster and more effective ways to engage with customers, amidst a backdrop of ever more stringent regulation. While the thriving start-up cultures in both London and Ireland can help offer solutions, there are numerous difficulties in successfully identifying and integrating innovations, as well as the challenge of integrating large financial institutions with these emerging enterprises. A deep understanding of business challenges and routes to market, agile business models and international mobility are all crucial components and it is little wonder that major banks now see incubators and accelerator programmes as crucial in bridging the gap. Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland also have a critical role in developing go-to market strategies and building working relationships on a global platform, and the symbiotic nature of the London-Dublin axis in particular offers a platform for growth.

Within that infrastructure, business networks such as the London Irish Business Society (LIBS) also have a supporting role to play. Now in its sixth year, LIBS is the largest network for the Irish professional community in London with over 4,500 members drawn from the finance, property, legal and professional service sectors. As a not-for-profit entity, it exists solely to promote a spirit of networking and collaboration among the Irish in London and also to maintain a link between Ireland and its overseas professional network. This year, we were delighted to collaborate with Enterprise Ireland’s London office to support their FinTech market development in a major global finance hub.

The “City Insight Programme”, brought together a group of six high-potential client companies from Enterprise Ireland’s FinTech cluster and paired them with senior Irish executives working in the UK industry. 15 advisors were handpicked from the LIBS’ membership to work strategically with these companies, providing them with market intelligence and readiness, as well as helping them to develop their value propositions and engage in meaningful professional networking. This process facilitated the signing of one global pilot agreement between an Irish SME and a top-tier institutional lender, as well as brokering more than 100 introductions between Irish enterprises and senior figures from the UK financial services sector.

This spirit of collaboration is a core principle from the first four actions of the IFS 2020 strategy, launched earlier this year by Simon Harris TD, Minister of State for International Financial Services, and he was highly supportive of this project commenting that, “this initiative is tangible evidence of the massive potential of leveraging the wealth of expertise and experience of our diaspora active in this sector. Equally important is the template this offers to replicating this approach in other global financial centres.”

Irish people have a long and proud tradition of building relationships and communities across the globe. Even in the increasingly technologically-connected world of FinTech, continuing to build those personal relationships will still be of huge importance.