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HOW OPEN DATA CAN HELP FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

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David Lais, Co-Founder and CPO at Ecolytiq – providing banks and financial institutions with the digital infrastructure for green finance.

 

“Data is the new oil” – a phrase that was reportedly coined by UK Mathematician and architect of Tesco’s Clubcard, Clive Humby.

Humby explained that just like oil, data is valuable but only once it has been refined. “It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc. to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity.”

In effect, data needs to be broken down and analysed for it to reach its true potential.

The importance of data is clear. Just take a mere look at the ways that platforms such as Google and Facebook use personal data to build better advertising, to target demographics and customise user experiences. It has huge upselling value and is being collected from nearly everything we do on a day-to-day basis. Data’s increasing value, however, isn’t just reserved for improving advertising – it’s one of the most underused tools in the fight against climate change.

 

David Lais

Can the collection of data help fight climate change?

Sustainability is a topic at the forefront of our society and is especially important to the Millennials and Gen Z generations. These younger generations also make up the most important and influential customer base, and it is therefore no longer surprising that numerous companies are jumping on the “sustainability” bandwagon.

As it stands right now, consumers are wholly unaware of their individual impact on the environment.

 

Capturing data for sustainability

Capturing data for sustainability is like a huge and very complex jigsaw puzzle; it only makes sense when all the pieces have been put together. To ensure we can complete this puzzle, we need to share information and share data. Once we can see the big picture, we can turn data into an actionable platform for change. Awareness is knowledge and knowledge is power.

That’s why when it comes to sustainability, open data is crucial if we are to push not only society, but an overall urgency on climate change further. The fundamental idea behind open data is that we need more transparency. Of course, there are privacy matters to consider, and we don’t want to share personal information. Yet, when it comes to sustainability, the real value exists when we start sharing, putting the data puzzle pieces together to form a comprehensive picture that works for the greater good.

Every year, thousands of studies connected to climate change are published. However, what is missing from this research is the direct application to our daily lives and the appropriate data from companies to go with it.

If we want to know how sustainable a product really is, we must make supply chains more transparent. We need to encourage every stakeholder involved in the process of creating a product to disclose their product impact on the environment. This way, we achieve the necessary access to data and, ultimately, the individual price and consequences for the environment.

 

A great opportunity for the financial industry

The solution, therefore, lies in the collection of the information and in the data itself. In my opinion, financial institutions and banks are sitting on a treasure trove of data. The growing desire from society to be more sustainable is one of the greatest opportunities that has ever presented itself in the industry and is poised to create massive growth in the banking and finance sector. Yet, the industry still only talks about the climate crisis as a “challenge.”

So, what can the financial industry do to address this challenge?

By now it is obvious that we need greater transparency, and we need to see open data as both an opportunity and a solution. The financial world could revolutionize the use of existing data to create this transparency, but also define new standards and requirements to encourage companies to share their sustainability data.

There is already so much information available to help to drive change. Of special importance here are personal bank statements that reflect your consumption behaviour. When used correctly, they can help consumers as well as companies understand their individual impact on the environment and thus achieve more transparency, build awareness and really nail down individual influence on the environment.

 

A digital world

We have become a digital world and digitization inevitably creates transparency. Those who understand how to use it properly and are really serious about environmental protection will always emerge as winners. Moving forward, the financial industry will play a major role in fighting climate change as it starts to embrace the opportunities available to implement a digital infrastructure for green finance. In turn, financial institutions will be able to offer their customers environmental footprinting as well as personalised impact offsetting and ESG investments, further utilising the opportunity to build a sustainable business case. And this is just scratching the surface of exciting possibilities.

One thing is clear – the most influential consumers, younger generations, want an intact and liveable world. If the financial sector can offer solutions, which help to educate them on how their spending habits impact the planet and offer them insight into how they can change their consumer behaviour to make the world a better place, then it is clear that open data can really help towards fighting climate change.

Surely now is the optimum time to start collaborating to piece together this vast and complex puzzle. If not now, then when?

This article is part of my thought leadership series. It reflects my thoughts and ideas, but the articles themselves are created by many with love and are therefore a real team effort. A special thanks to the ecolytiq and Make More Noise communication teams for helping me to shape my thoughts into beautiful words.

 

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IS SCARCITY OF TALENT THREATENING THE UK’S FINTECH CROWN?

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To be attributed to Rafa Plantier, Head of UK and Ireland at Tink

 

From the Square Mile to Canary Wharf, London has been the historic centre of global finance, with long-established trading exchanges and trusted financial institutions. In the digital era, it has also ensured that it’s moved with the times to become a thriving hub for fintech.

But the UK financial services sector is now at an inflection point. In the past year, London’s position as a global fintech leader has been under threat. Earlier this year, Amsterdam overtook The City as the largest European share trading hub. The European Banking Authority moved from London to Paris. And Dublin, Paris and Frankfurt are all competing to win a greater share of the European financial marketplace.

The culprits of the shift are the twin challenges of the pandemic and Brexit, combined with the speed of technological transformation in financial services – disrupting the traditional flow of people, capital and ideas. So the pressing question for the industry is: how do we maintain and, more importantly, accelerate momentum to retain London’s fintech crown?

The answer revolves around one key thing — people.

 

Diverse talent drives innovation

Attracting the best talent is crucial if the UK financial services sector is going to continue to thrive and retain its global position as the preeminent financial centre.

In February 2021, the Kalifa Review laid out a strategy and delivery model for the UK to lead the fintech revolution, covering five key areas. These included skills and talent, investment and international attractiveness and competitiveness. But what became clear was that access to the right level of highly skilled talent was one of the biggest challenges for UK fintech, with barriers spanning both domestic skills shortages and the need to access foreign talent seamlessly.

As a native Brazilian in the UK, working for a Swedish-owned fintech, I understand these challenges as well as anyone. I love London, but we must recognise that fintech firms need unique talent and skills, and such a talent base can’t be met by a single city – not even one as resourceful as London. Not only do fintechs require technology and data specialists, but also experienced managers with good knowledge of high-growth companies and financial services.

As someone lucky enough to have worked with startup and scale-up fintechs across the world,  I understand the unique grounding that comes from being a part of a high-growth global company. That’s why I believe it’s vital that we attract people from across the world with commercial experience at ambitious, rapid-growth businesses — so they can bring this experience to bear on the UK financial services sector.

At the same time, many companies face renewed pressure to create new services and products to meet expectations for growth. That is why it’s critical that the UK has access to people with the right technical skills in areas such as software engineering, DevOps, Cybersecurity and data science.

Put simply, having the smartest minds delivering the best products is good for everyone. It drives efficiency, productivity,  growth and, ultimately, prosperity.

 

The UK is open for fintech

The UK should be proud of being a fintech pioneer and the driving force behind legislation that helped usher in the era of open banking. There is now an exciting opportunity to take this even further. Having access to a diverse pool of talent and skills will empower the financial services industry to create innovative products to tackle complex social challenges, such as better B2B payments, financial inclusion and climate change.

The good news is that the UK government clearly recognises the role the industry has to play in driving growth and innovation. The 2021 Autumn Budget reaffirmed commitments to reskill the nation. With £3.8bn budgeted for skills and a formal criteria for the long-awaited Scale Up Visa, the Chancellor announced a set of proposals that will support the breadth of our sector — from startups right through to unicorns and incumbent banks. This will be essential for fintechs like ours to continue to trailblaze and for the UK to differentiate itself on the global stage.

In an increasingly competitive global landscape, and to sustain momentum, we must keep talent avenues open to attract the best of the best in the industry. As one of the fastest-growing areas of the UK economy, the benefits of nurturing UK fintech to drive productivity, growth and lead the UK’s post-pandemic recovery, cannot be overstated. 2021 has seen a surge of activity in the industry and I am eager to see what London’s fintech sector can achieve in 2022.

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SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

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SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

Dean Fiveash, Head of FinTech Sales, IFX

Without doubt the Coronavirus pandemic impacted every aspect of our lives and fundamentally changed the way in which we all conduct business.

From the widespread adoption of working from home, to the amplified focus on employee wellbeing and work life balance, to simply acknowledging that people are more than their job titles and are often juggling childcare, pets and terrible wifi issues all whilst trying to do their job. The last 18 months have altered the way we work forever and in order to set our businesses up for success we have also needed to rethink how we operate.

Dean Fiveash

In a people facing sector like sales,  it’s  clear that the loss of face-to-face interaction is perhaps the biggest loss and an impending challenge as we slowly emerge from the confines of the pandemic. Gone are the days of instant downloads from ‘water cooler’ conversations with the team discussing deals or general matters. Instead, our inboxes and diaries are full of zoom catch ups. This isn’t to say that success has dwindled. Flexibility of working from home has helped many businesses to grow rapidly. In fact at IFX we have enjoyed our ten best months of company sales, but there is no denying the way in which we work within our teams has shifted. So how can you set up your sales teams to maximise its chances of success?

 

Adapting To The Times

For many businesses operating during these unprecedented times the shift towards the work from home culture has seen its benefits. Speed is key in the fintech industry and video calls on top of isolated working has greatly improved our time efficiency allowing us to do more for our clients in the long run. Equally, with the workforce being spread around the country and in some cases even globally, came the need for further rigorous checks and processes to ensure the high standards set in the office environment are still being met.

Despite this I would argue that this made us better sales people, and in turn a more successful and thriving sales team.

Post-pandemic success is grounded in not just the talent of your employees but also how you choose to structure your teams. For me, the old adage ‘People Buy People’ remains the most relevant factor for developing a slick sales team. At the end of the day, the technical stuff can be learnt over time but the proficient people skills needed in client facing roles is more innate.

When evaluating team skills, individuals who demonstrate determination and the ability to keep smiling through adversity are a vital asset, especially in the fast paced fintech industry.

Having worked in numerous team leader roles within the sales industry,  I know the difference that a collegiate and supportive team can make to successfully securing deals. The key is to have people at your disposal who are going to pitch in to help others, in turn making the team more robust. In the post-pandemic world, this will remain the key quality to look for and embed as a core value across the business.

 

Fostering A Successful Culture 

Whilst the team structure and core skills are an important part of the team set up, good management and personal development structure is crucial to success. At IFX, our sales leadership team all have client portfolios and are regularly signing and navigating deals. It’s through giving my team practical experience and regular client interaction that we can gain far better market insight than through managing team activity or KPIs alone.

More discipline is also required when working at home to retain the sales focus whilst navigating domestic distractions. As such, maintaining your employee motivation and focus is something each business should work on. A difficult feat without the physical presence of your team and one balanced on knowing your employees and their individual needs. But little things go a long way, so incentives and perks such as company socials, bonuses or simply a free breakfast can work wonders to motivate others. Another tip is to set  attainable goals and regular check-ins with your team to keep motivation on track to reach peak productivity.

 

Looking Forward

Team dynamics will continue to change to adapt to the ever-changing and rapidly evolving landscape, the secret to success will remain the same.

Something to look forward to in the next couple of years as a movement,  is the greater adoption of smarter contracts and embedded FinTech, which of course as businesses and as a team we will have to adapt to.

Ultimately, my biggest piece of advice to others is to get the basics right.  A leading-edge solution fails to achieve greatness if it isn’t backed with competent sales/relationship managers and attentive operational support. Traditional ingredients for success such as reputation and trustworthiness are built over time, often through word of mouth, but building a competent team who can make your clients happy is essential to that mix

 

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