Yorkshire tech firms invited to be part of US trade delegation

William Russell
William Russell
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FINANCIAL technology firms based in Yorkshire could forge links with US-based venture capitalists with help from the Lord Mayor of London.

The Lord Mayor, William Russell, said he was issuing a "call to action" to Yorkshire based fintechs who wanted to join him on upcoming trade delegations to the US to meet people who were looking to invest in the UK.

Mr Russell made the comments as he visited Leeds as part of a strategy to improve ties between Yorkshire and the City of London.

He said: "We have this eco-system in the UK which started in London and now emerging outside London, We can work closely together. There are a lot of VCs (venture capitalists) in America who have missed out on fintech."

As an ambassador for UK financial and professional services, Mr Russell said his focus would be on trade, innovation and culture. While in Leeds, he met with senior business figures at Yorkshire Building Society and leading figures from Channel 4, which is establishing its headquarters in the city.

He said: "I will be going to San Francisco in three weeks' time. I will be out of the UK for 100 days in over 20 different cities."

He said his focus would be particularly on the innovation and fintech space and Yorkshire firms could potentially come along as delegates on the trip.

"Leeds, particularly with the data analytics and retail side, has a speciality. Yorkshire's expertise is perceived positively around the country. You've got fintech in the North and we are creating these hubs.

"When fintech started, we were looking internationally.. we weren't looking inwardly. That's changed in the last two or three years. We worked out that 76,000 jobs were being created in the fintech space. It can't all be in London.

"London is very expensive,'' he said. "There is a huge amount of talent linked in to the universities and Leeds has that. There has been a specialisation of certain centres and we can work together.

"We're in this together and this is a big sea change. The more we can collaborate and work together it's better for all of us."

He said Channel 4's arrival was great news for Leeds.

"One of my three pillars is culture,'' he said. "I use a word called 'fusion skills' which is really focusing on how the creative arts can help the children of the future with soft skills.

"You get that much more from the creative and cultural side. That helps children in the future to have a better chance of getting jobs in a variety of areas."

He said mutuals had to invest in the future.

He added: "That's where innovation and fintech comes in. In 10 years' time, the back office is not going to be what it is today. How do we adapt to ensure those people continue to have jobs within the financial services sector?

"It's about upskilling the digital skills of people in the workplace."

"We've got to invest in the North and we are there to help."

He said he was also passionate about green finance, which was being established in response to climate change.

He said: "A lot of banks have green mortgages. This is just the start of what we're looking at. In the City, we've got a plastic free campaign. Yorkshire (Building Society) have told me they are going to have green mortgages. Everyone is going to start moving into that space.

"You will be offered a cheaper mortgage because the building you are buying is more sustainable."

He added: "Fintech has been a huge success and I would like to be part of the reason that we have moved from start up to scale up."

William Russell, is the 692nd Lord Mayor of the City of London. He acts as an international ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services sector.

The UK is the leading exporter of financial services across the world, to the value of £64bn. The Lord Mayor also heads the City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. Together with other leading members of the City Corporation he makes sure that the City’s interests are reflected in local and national policy.