Matt Hanmer – Member of The Board of Advisors at WBS, University of Warwick.
Sometimes it can feel that technology moves at a blinding pace and it can be hard to keep up. The technological changes over the last 20, or even the last 10 years, can feel frankly dizzying, with progress seemingly accelerating all the time.
Nowhere is this felt more acutely than in finance and fintech. We’ve gone from cheques to blockchain in a generation, and it would be a braver analyst than me to try and predict where fintech will be in another generation’s time. AI, machine learning and financial advances have transformed the way we earn, spend, and save.
At Warwick Business School’s Gillmore Centre for Financial Technology, it’s exactly this change we are dedicated to. Dedicated to learning about it, researching it, teaching it, and seeing it through. The Gillmore Centre has been formed to conduct world-class, cutting-edge research at the intersection of finance and technology.
From AI and the opportunities and dangers it poses to mobile payments, cryptocurrencies to crowdfunding, we are doing all we can to work with business and ask the big questions on these rapidly emerging pieces of technology.
Clearly, these tools are transforming finance across the globe, but there is also a regional opportunity here too. The West Midlands is a hotbed of fintech activity, with global companies like HSBC and Goldman Sachs relocating their UK headquarters to Birmingham in the face of the increasing costs of London, the rich talent pool in the region and the changing face of how we work.
It’s vital that across the West Midlands we – businesses, academics and institutions – do all we can to push on this open door and seize the opportunity we have with both hands. The West Midlands tech sector is now worth more than £15 billion to the national economy, supporting thousands of jobs.
It’s brilliant to see this vote of confidence in the region, but we must make relocating or starting businesses here the most attractive proposition it can possibly be. Fintech itself is worth more than £11 billion to the UK economy, a figure which is only set to grow as our reliance on this technology increases.
We’re working with industry, including the West Midlands tech supercluster Supertech, to highlight just how far these changes in fintech will reach. This goes beyond just banks too, with dozens of large companies now beginning to explore opportunities to enter finance, particularly with the high street environment remaining so challenging.
Recently, we produced our guide to help firms use AI. The possibilities of AI are almost limitless, and it will revolutionise particularly the administrative work of dozens of fields over the next few years and massively improve the customer experience, including finance. We hope to be the bridge between the practical concerns of business and industry and the research advances of the academic community.
To do this, it’s important too that we consider the future needs of our economy. To this end, we plan to launch our Fintech Master’s programme in 2025, dedicated to producing the employees of the future who can use these technologies as standard. Teaching, research and working with business are not competing priorities for us, but instead go hand in hand to ensure the region, and the country, has all the resources it needs to make the most of this huge opportunity.
As we reach the end of another successful Birmingham Tech Week it’s important to consider how far the West Midlands has come in the past decade. That we have these plans to become a world leading technological centre shows the level of potential in our region. Now it’s our job to go out there to do all we can to realise it.