Read the full article in Danish in Jyllands-Posten
It is easy to spot the challenges that arise when FinTech start-ups and incumbent financial institutions must work together. But a perfect storm has created a unique moment in the financial sector where the two combatants are finding common ground, experts say.
Ground-breaking FinTech start-ups and financial industry leaders have often been described as having a stormy relationship. But that has never been PA Consultation's experience. They find that both parties see the benefits of fighting with - and not against - each other.
In a new survey from PA, more than 90 per cent of senior executives from Danish banks and insurance companies said they have increased focus on strategic partnerships with FinTechs. Just as FinTech start-ups no longer have a ‘disrupt or die’ attitude towards the financial institutions.
"The reason is obvious, the financial institutions face a tsunami of new regulatory and IT requirements, and there is a need for better customer experiences and more innovation. The FinTech world, on the other hand, has the innovative solutions but needs access to customers and often also capital. This gives a clear potential for fruitful cooperation,” Martin Tillisch, PA financial expert, says. He is part of the global management within financial services and a mentor for several FinTech companies.
Martin has seen the local PA teams' revenue from financial sector consulting more than double over the past two years, making financial services the largest sector of PA in Denmark. Even more interesting is that recruitment in the sector today is largely for FinTechs.
"The finance sector has really moved from a quiet life to a new centre of investment funds and innovative entrepreneurs, and I expect growth to continue in the years to come," he says.
To get even closer to the innovation, PA entered into a cooperation agreement with Copenhagen FinTech, an interest organisation for financial technologies and services, last year. The timing is not coincidental, Martin believes the financial world is in a unique moment.
An area with wide appeal
The collaboration with Copenhagen FinTech gives the consulting firm the opportunity to get close to the use of modern technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence when they advise the associated FinTechs. But the fascination also lies in the area's socio-economic potential.
“FinTech has the potential to become an export product for Denmark, while at the same time creating jobs in Denmark. Even more fascinating to me is that solutions about payments and blockchain can make a difference in areas like developing countries. They can ensure cash flows end up in the right pockets and kill nepotism and corruption,” says Martin.
Søren Bligaard Rasmussen worked for Copenhagen FinTech's predecessor, CFIR. Today he is a consultant at PA and advises FinTechs from the innovation environment.
"The free access to start-ups working with the latest financial business models and services is a privilege. I become wiser on topics that have my great interest. I especially advise them on how the good partnership with major financial institutions can look. It is a really an exciting field to work in,” he says.
The number of FinTech partnerships has grown by 500 per cent since 2015, according to figures from Copenhagen FinTech. So, PA plans to hire even more colleagues.
“When they cooperate, established companies are no longer limited by their own ability to develop solutions. They can draw on the innovations of FinTech start-ups. For example, the smaller companies - potentially - can multiply their customer base overnight,” Søren says.
“Our survey confirms there is desire and potential, but partnerships become difficult if they are not strategic with respect for culture and investment form. It is important that both parties lower their cultural barriers, otherwise it will not work. The study shows that few have succeeded in creating a top-down controlled formula for these partnerships. But the established companies that find the right approach and break the nut, they will win” Martin states.