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Future Finance brings innovation, skills & tech for more inclusive financial services


A new innovation, skills and technology programme Future Finance is promising to be a leveller in the financial services sector. The sector is currently facing many challenges, but also opportunities. These include the rise of AI, ongoing changes in financial regulation, equitable access to financial services as well as the opening of access to personal financial data…

The changes have led a team of four leading universities (Bristol, West of England, Glasgow, and Glasgow Caledonian) to collaborate with SETsquared, FinTech West, and prominent industry partners. They are set to deliver a timely new business and innovation support programme for the sector, ‘Future Finance’.

Future Finance to act as an enabler in the financial services sector

The programme aims to enable the financial services sector to adopt new technologies, strategies, and processes.  The aim is to unlock more effective product and service design, increase productivity and profitability. It will also focus on attracting and retaining new talent and clients, and becoming more sustainable and inclusive.

Initially rolling out as a pilot in Bristol, Bath, and Glasgow, Future Finance will extend the scheme to other financial services clusters across the UK in late 2024. This will address the productivity gap between London, which is already at the epicentre of global fintech disruption, and the rest of the UK by levelling up regional areas with emerging or established financial services ecosystems.

Amongst many others, industry backing comes from NatWest, Deloitte, Burges Salmon, Hargreaves Lansdown, and FinTech West. Key to delivery, Future Finance has also partnered with organisations focused on increasing access to finance within their communities.

James Berry, CEO at Great Western Credit Union, echoes this, stating, “We have partnered with Future Finance as we believe collaboration across the financial services sector to improve financial outcomes for people is vitally important. With so many families across our region struggling financially and many in financially vulnerable circumstances, it’s more important than ever that businesses of all types that have an interest in this area come together to benefit from the opportunities the partnership will bring and ultimately make sure finance truly works for good, to improve people’s lives.”

Future Finance to address barriers to adequate personal financial management

Alongside working directly with financial services organisations, Future Finance looks to explore the barriers faced by individuals. Challenges such as poor credit records, lack of digital capabilities, skills, and awareness of available services present barriers to the effective day-to-day management of their own finances. Working collaboratively with communities, financial services, and technology providers, it is hoped Future Finance will pave the way for the development of new bespoke products and services that can support access for the underserved.

Professor Sharon Collard, Chair in Personal Finance, University of Bristol, says: “Lack of access to financial services for sections of the community and geographical areas in the UK is extremely damaging. In rural areas and smaller towns, it’s getting harder and harder to access physical banking and financial services. This affects the most vulnerable in our communities, limiting their ability to save, invest and access credit and ultimately break out of poverty cycles. The opportunity to address these challenges through this programme is incredibly exciting.”

Accelerator-style support for participating businesses

Central to the delivery of Future Finance is the rollout of ‘Accelerator’-style support for any financial service organisation or fintech. From the launch date (17 April), businesses will be able to access free advice in areas such as IP, investment, financial regulation, and product development, alongside an initial offering of training programmes in change management, innovation readiness, and leadership. Future Finance will also provide the opportunity for regular networking events that will encourage traditional financial services organisations to discuss and collaborate with fintechs and technology providers.

Alongside the delivery of the Accelerator, a team of academic and industry collaborators will be working to delve into the challenges and opportunities facing the sector, providing opportunities for businesses in the Accelerator to get paid for research participation, and ensuring that the support measures put in place are current and meet the needs of the community.

Marty Reid, Interim Executive Director, SETsquared, says: “We urge financial services businesses to get involved. It’s always hard to find the time to engage in additional activities, but this programme could transform the way you work, and there’s funding available to get involved at the very first stage. We’re excited about the potential to roll this out across the UK, as the impact extends not only to the companies it will support but also to improving and opening up access to financial services to the end user.”

More participants welcomed from the financial sector

Financial services companies interested in getting involved can register via the Future Finance website their interest via the website and the team will get in touch to provide further information and access to the network.


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