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Fintech Awards Wales Exclusive Interview: Katharine Adlard, Financial Services Tax Leader, West & Wales, PWC

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In the wake of the 2023 Fintech Awards Wales, Matt Hyde, Director of Recruit121 and the Fintech Awards Wales, engages in exclusive interviews with the sponsors and prominent figures at the forefront of the FinTech sector in Wales.

The Fintech Awards Wales serve as a platform to acknowledge and honour the remarkable accomplishments of individuals, companies, and academic institutions within the Welsh FinTech landscape.

In this special series, Matt introduces you to the key figures driving innovation and progress in this dynamic industry.

This week Matt speaks to Katharine Adlard, Financial Services Tax Leader, West & Wales, PWC

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Fintech is a rapidly evolving industry, and Wales has shown remarkable progress in this domain. From your perspective, what unique opportunities or challenges does the Welsh fintech ecosystem present, and how does your organization contribute to its development?

The Welsh FinTech ecosystem already has a great collaborative style – this is a unique selling point. Whether a FinTech just starting out or an established financial services provider, partnerships and collaboration are fundamental to the ability to scale. Putting the right support around an organisation, connecting with regional networks, and finding opportunities to collaborate – with other FinTechs, with incumbents, and even with the regulator – are just some examples of the foundations for success.

PwC plays a pivotal role within the industry, working with FinTechs at every stage of their evolution, being well placed to bring relevant players together from large incumbents to early-stage Fintechs. While the landscape is complex and increasingly crowded, we believe that there is significant value to be had for both incumbents and innovators from the careful curation of FinTech partnerships, and significant investment and value creation opportunities for a wide range of investors.

What motivated your organization to become a sponsor of the Fintech Awards Wales, and what do you see as the significance of supporting events like these within the fintech industry?

We’ve been sponsors of The FinTech Awards Wales since their inception and have found them to be of great benefit to the business – and to the broader market.

PwC sees both the FinTech and broader technology sectors as key in the future success of Wales. We want to recognise and encourage the fantastic entrepreneurial businesses and individuals who bring to life the wide range of solutions provided by FinTech, including a number of disruptors and creative problem explorers, which is why we feel that the Awards are such a great fit with our strategy here at PwC. We feel it is vitally important to highlight and celebrate the best of Fintech in Wales, particularly on the back of the momentum since the Kalifa report.

The ‘Rising FinTech Star’ category which we’ve sponsored since supporting the inaugural Wales Awards resonates with our vision and community ethos to grow and develop the best upcoming talent.

As a sponsor, what specific role does your organization play in promoting innovation and growth within the fintech sector in Wales? Can you share any initiatives or programs that align with your sponsorship?

PwC has just launched the fourth InsurTech Scale programme in September 2023. The 12 week programme is a platform to scout and connect the best fast-growth Insurtech scale-ups, for PwC and our large clients and to create commercial opportunities. The Scale | InsurTech programme is an accelerator programme that connects industry leaders and decision makers in insurance organisations, to products from B2B InsurTech scale-ups with the aim to create mutual commercial opportunities for scale-ups and organisations alike.

Since November 2022, PwC has provided Cardiff Capital Region City Deal with support in setting up and launching its Innovation Investment Capital fund, and has advised and provided operational support to Capricorn Fund Managers in the sourcing of investment and screening and reviewing potential investee companies. As the fund’s Alternative Investment Fund Manager, Capricorn Fund Managers provide portfolio and risk management services. The fund is sector-agnostic and has received applications from a wide range of sectors including FinTech.  In September, the fund made its first investment into Cardiff-based AMPLYFI, which uses AI to generate market insights and actionable data to improve decision-making in risk management, sales, marketing and strategy. Further investments are expected in the coming months, which will help to catalyse regional growth through new employment opportunities and accelerated economic development.

The UK has established itself as a global hub for fintech innovation, with London being a prominent fintech centre. How do you see the Fintech Awards Wales contributing to the overall growth and visibility of the UK's fintech ecosystem, and do you believe that regional fintech events, such as the Fintech Awards Wales, play a role in nurturing collaboration and fostering connections within the industry across the country?

The FinTech Awards Wales provides a valuable space to showcase and rightfully recognise the best of the FinTech sector among their peers. Being involved in the Awards has brought this to life. Building a momentum of energy and buzz, while bringing FinTech people together, will enhance the FinTech network and community and enable Wales’ successes to be showcased among others elsewhere. This is particularly relevant given the national FinTech Alliance which PwC are partnering with and more locally FinTech Wales which goes from strength to strength.

The Awards, sponsored from the beginning by PwC, grow from strength to strength, and it is great to see businesses we first heard of during 2019 now flourishing – doing exactly what the Awards set out to do which is to provide a platform for success.

Looking ahead, how do you envision the future of fintech in Wales, and how will your organization continue to support and collaborate with the local fintech community beyond the awards ceremony?

Supporting innovative businesses is something PwC does well here in Wales. With dedicated local resources supporting both Private Business and Financial Services, we are passionate about making a difference and recognising success. We bring a unique combination of specialists who can talk to all the complexities of start-up business in a financial services and regulatory context.

Through our links into FinTech Wales & FinTech West, and our continued support of the Awards on both sides of the Severn Bridge, we are providing resources, experience and insight to the FinTech ecosystem and community, and assisting in training the talent of the future through local and national initiatives such as the MSc in Cybersecurity & Technology, which is jointly curated with Cardiff University.

We've explored some interesting developments and insights in the fintech space today. On a lighter note, with all the innovative trends in fintech, if you had a magic wand and could bring one futuristic fintech concept to life right now, what would it be and why?

If I had a magic FinTech wand I would like to see better use of Blockchain in the legal process for house purchase and funding. There is still a lot of reliance on paper, wet signatures, and interconnecting suppliers and practitioners. I wonder whether there is more to come in that space to connect estate agents and the sales/purchase process with financial institutions and lenders, through to the legal conveyancing to make that process less stressful and onerous. You could have the ability to compare products and service levels more wholesomely and ultimately take out a lot of the reliances and anxiety of waiting which is prevalent in the life experience of buying a home!

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