Numbers add up to success for city’s thriving financial technology sector: Report

14 Feb 2023

Numbers add up to success for city’s thriving financial technology sector


Press release published on behalf of Whitecap Consulting

A new report from Whitecap Consulting shows the FinTech sector in the Leeds City Region has experienced huge growth over the last three years, is now home to more than 100 FinTech firms and is contributing more than £700m per year to the regional economy.

The report is published at a time when the financial sector in the region is thriving, buoyed by the decisions of the Financial Conduct Authority, UK Infrastructure Bank and Bank of England to establish bases in Leeds.

More than 100 FinTech – or financial technology – firms have been identified in the Leeds City Region, the vast majority of which are start-ups and scale-ups, a segment which has trebled in number over the last three years. Core strengths are visible in payments, lending, financial regulation, wealth management and banking.

The region is already home to more than 60 established national and international financial services organisations, all of which are active in FinTech, including numerous banks and lending firms, and three of the UK’s largest building societies. Leeds is also the only city outside London to be home to all three of the UK’s major credit reference agencies.

The new report is the result of a research project which was funded through sponsorship and support from Leeds City Council and other key organisations such as Leeds Building Society, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Bruntwood SciTech, Cloud Gateway, Equiniti, the University of Leeds, FinTech North and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership. It is the third report published by Whitecap on the Leeds City Region, with its previous one being published early in 2020, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, said:

“Leeds has plenty to be proud of, not least the new Centre for Green Finance at the University of Leeds, the UK Infrastructure Bank and the Bank of England as well as the Financial Conduct Authority’s recent move to the city, and the recognition of Leeds as part of an established FinTech cluster. FinTech start-ups, scale-ups and leading institutions alike are recognising Leeds as an exciting space for innovation and opportunity.”

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said:

“Whitecap Consulting has provided structure and clarity to the FinTech ecosystem in this report, and the in-depth research and analysis both quantifies and qualifies the strength, growth and maturity within the sector. It is great to see double digit growth across all of the key metrics since 2020, and the report recognises the diversity and key strengths across the range of tech sub sectors, from RegTech to LegalTech.”

Richard Fearon, chief executive at Leeds Building Society, said:

“Tech and innovation are integral to providing the modern financial services that the Leeds City Region has become synonymous with. One-in-five of our people at Leeds Building Society hold a digital or tech role and they are fundamental to us delivering for our members. A thriving local FinTech industry also has a major role to play which is why we have been delighted to support this report.”

Whitecap’s analysis shows huge growth of 263 per cent in the number of FinTech start-ups and scale-ups with a presence in the region, which now amount to 87 firms. In total there are 107 FinTech firms, and more than 200 firms identified as operating in the FinTech sector, including financial services and tech firms.

The sector has been boosted in recent years by the decisions of organisations such as LHV Bank, Iwoca, Recognise Bank, Global Shares and PEXA to establish bases in the region. New start-ups over the last two years include Answer Pay and Tred.

Steve Elliot, managing director at LexisNexis Risk Solutions (UK & Ireland), said:

“LexisNexis Risk Solutions is proud to have supported this report and to play an active role in the economic prosperity of the Leeds City Region which, as this report shows, has been experiencing strong growth. We acquired Leeds-born tech start-up TruNarrative in August 2021, and we are proud to have a home in Leeds and to be creating a range of exciting job opportunities as we continue to expand the team supporting the LexisNexis RiskNarrative orchestration platform.”

Deb Hetherington, head of innovation services at Bruntwood SciTech, said:

“FinTech has long been a high-profile feature of the Leeds economy and bridges the vibrant tech and financial services sectors in the region. The strength of FinTech in Leeds that is evident in this report is also reflected in the organisations based at our Platform tech and digital workspace, where FinTech is prominent along with other fast-growing digitally-led sectors such as LegalTech and HealthTech. We look forward to playing our role in the sector’s continued success over the coming months and years.”

In 2021 a strategic review of the UK FinTech sector was published (the Kalifa Review), which highlighted the growth of FinTech across the UK. The Kalifa Review identified 10 key FinTech clusters in the UK, with the Leeds-Manchester cluster being cited as one of three ‘established’ clusters outside London. The review also recommended the creation of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT), which will be launched later this month.

Chris Sier, HM Treasury FinTech envoy for England, chair of FinTech North, visiting professor at the University of Leeds and chair of ClearGlass, said:

“Over recent years we’ve seen the accelerated development of FinTech across the regions of the UK, with increased national focus coming via initiatives such as the Kalifa Review, FinTech National Network and now the newly-created Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT). Leeds has played a prominent role throughout this national evolution, and continues to thrive due to the strength of its financial, tech and FinTech sectors, which have always been strongly supported by the public sector and the region’s many universities.”

Charlotte Crosswell OBE, chair of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT), said:

“The growth of the FinTech sector in Leeds is very impressive, and I look forward to working with the financial services, FinTech and technology sectors in the region and across the UK to drive international FinTech growth, attract talent into the Fintech sector and ensure better outcomes for consumers and SMEs. It is important we continue to enhance the links between industry, academia, government and regulators to support this exciting sector, and ensure that its impact is felt up and down the country.”

A launch event for the new report took place at Leeds Building Society’s head office today (Tuesday, February 14).

The report can be downloaded here.


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team