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Two years in the making: NI’s first Fintech Symposium

After securing the opportunity to host it two years ago, on Wednesday 23rd March NI’s fintech community came together for the first ever NI Fintech Symposium in Belfast.

Hosted by Fintech NI, the symposium followed the launch of the NI FinTech Sector Strategy which revealed that fintech now contributes £392 million to the economy and has the potential to create thousands more jobs over the next few years.

This optimism was reflected in the room by the audience and speakers which included representatives from large organisations including Deloitte and A&L Goodbody, accelerators and investors such as Catalyst and Techstart Ventures and from other regional FinTech clusters including FinTech Scotland, FinTech North and SuperTech West Midlands.

One of the major talking points among the regional fintech cluster speakers was the Kalifa Review, which recently celebrated its first anniversary. Broadly, the views were that it has helped raise the profile of regional Fintech hubs globally and fintech investment is starting to spread around the UK. There is clearly work still to do, but most agreed it was a positive step in the right direction.

Andrew Jenkins, the Fintech Envoy for NI, discussed the opportunity and challenges for local fintechs. In his view, more needs to be done to connect startups with FDIs and incumbents, and funding networks need strengthened. He called for SMEs to collaborate, work with academia and engage with other fintech clusters to share knowledge and experience.

Karen Bradbury, Financial Services Sector Lead at Invest NI, spoke about why NI is an attractive place to set up a fintech. Nearly half the population is aged between 16-44 and while it has a smaller population than other regions, this can be to its advantage as it can be more agile. There is a deep talent pool too, with financial services employing 40,000 people, 7,000 of which are currently working in fintech.

On the investment side, Ryan McAnlis, Investment Director at Techstart Ventures, shared tips on how founders can navigate investment in fintech. He said there were no hard and fast rules when it comes to fundraising but emphasised the importance of testing any assumptions about customer base, the problem you’re trying to solve, your solution, how much money you need, and pivoting accordingly.

McAnlis was followed by Steve Orr, Chief Executive at Catalyst, who laid out why NI can be one of the top three hubs in the world for RegTech and how it could become a global Centre for Secure Intelligent Regulatory Technologies – GSIRT. With £160m, GSIRT could create up to 16,500 jobs and £931m in GVA in the next decade – definitely worth watching this space.

The closing panel on NI’s fintech opportunity featured Roisin Finnegan, Head of Ventures at Deloitte, Carol Rossborough, Co-Founder of ESTHER, Chris Jessup, Finance Partner at A&L Goodbody, Daniel Broby, Professor in Fintech at Ulster University and Bo Brustkern, Co-Founder and CEO of Fintech Nexus.

The panel covered a lot of different issues including how we grow and nurture talent, how improvements in remote working opened doors to new markets for entrepreneurs and how NI can overcome challenges to continue growing the local fintech sector.

From conversations we had at today’s event with firms such as AuditComply and Datactics, and from listening to insights from the speakers, it’s clear there is a lot of energy and support behind NI’s fintech sector. We now need to turn this energy into action in order to cement NI’s place as an attractive place to set up and run a fintech business.


Chatsworth Communications recently opened a Belfast office to tap into the city’s thriving fintech scene and deep pool of talent. Find out more here.

Chatsworth was the first communications agency to focus on fintech.

We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launchgrowth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures

Looking for intelligent, informed and connected fintech PR which delivers results and value? 

Get in touch and let us help build your reputation and tell your story. 

Chatsworth opens Belfast office

We’re pleased to announce that Chatsworth Communications is set to open a new office in Belfast.

Fintech putting Belfast on the world stage

A new breed of fintech businesses has taken the local and international business scene by storm

It has been a major centre in world finance for centuries and a thriving technology hub so it’s no surprise that London is home to a number of world-class fintechs that have become household names globally.

London will always play a central role in the global fintech revolution, but in recent times we have seen investment in creating technology hubs in other cities around the UK and this is translating into the creation of thriving, engaged communities and exciting companies.

Belfast, which is increasingly being seen as a city bursting with entrepreneurship and innovation, has been one of the main beneficiaries of this trend. Over the past couple of years, a new breed of fintech businesses has taken the local and international business scene by storm, putting the city on the map.

A growing reputation as a fintech hub

Until recently, I rarely saw anything about fintechs from Northern Ireland in the news outside of local papers. Much of the fintech hype has focused on huge investments, mergers and acquisitions for fintechs in London, New York and Asia and the odd one in Dublin, but seldom Belfast.

But Laura Noonan, while acting Ireland editor at the FT, bucked this trend with an article entitled ‘Belfast’s booming financial services rise above political unrest.’ It highlighted the investment that is pouring into the city – Citi plans to hire 400 people, bringing its headcount to 3,600+ and FinTru a RegTech firm based in Belfast, aims to double its headcount to 1,600. Citi and FinTrU’s plans follow recent announcements by Big Four accounting firms PwC, Deloitte and KPMG, who together will create 2,200 jobs in Belfast.

And it’s no wonder – with rents as low as a quarter of London’s west end and half of Dublin’s office space, and salary expectations much lower due to low living costs, firms can save thousands every month and still only be an hour flight from clients in London or just over 90 minutes from those in Dublin.

As a region, NI also has a deep pool of talent. Not only do we consistently outperform all other regions in the UK in academic qualifications at GCSE  and A-Level, we also have 4,000 people that graduate with business qualifications every year and boast the highest percentage of qualified IT professionals in the UK.

Through Invest NI, we also offer generous support schemes: PwC received £9.8m from the agency to support 108 of the almost 800 jobs it will create by 2026. It has also supported numerous local fintechs which are leading the way in Belfast. These include Datactics, specialists in user-friendly data quality and matching software which now has a 50+ strong team, fscom, a firm of compliance experts which currently works with over 18% of the UK payments sector and RegTick, which helps simplify compliance with regulation through an intuitive platform.

Furthermore, a potential benefit of Brexit, the arrangements set out in the Northern Ireland protocol could ultimately create “the best of both worlds” by making Belfast a unique jurisdiction with a toe in both the UK and the EU, as said by Michael Hall, managing partner at EY’s 600-strong Northern Ireland business.

There are a number of trade bodies and influencers who have been driving the sector forward.

Industry body, FintechNI, chaired by local fintech evangelist, Alex Lee, released a report which found NI to have the highest concentration of fintech employment in the UK.  There are an estimated 7,000 fintech related roles here and one in five people working across the financial and tech sectors in Northern Ireland work in fintech.

Furthermore, the Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland, Andrew Jenkins, has regularly written in the media about fintech’s potential, imploring both the private and public sectors to grab the lucrative opportunity it presents with both hands.

Capitalise on this momentum with impactful communications

Having moved back to Belfast from London earlier this year, it feels there is real momentum growing behind the fintech scene here. It’s clear that we have a really strong story, different from that of other fintech hubs, that is starting to resonate with international media.

By creating compelling narratives and using the right channels to get them in front of the right audience, we can create huge opportunities for the city and its fintechs which can together attract customers, investment and talent into Belfast.


Chatsworth was the first communications agency to focus on fintech. We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launchgrowth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

Looking for intelligent, informed and connected fintech PR which delivers results and value?

Get in touch and let us help build your reputation and tell your story.