By: 8 July 2024

Our team headed to the Excel in London for the event

FinTech Intel at MoneyNext

The annual MoneyNext event took place in London in June, and the FinTech Intel team were there. 

The event actually consists of four component events rolled into one: Banking, Insurance, Wealth and Lending Transformation Summits. It brought together a range of speakers, panelists, and exhibitors from the fintech world, putting them all in one room to network, share expertise, and learn. 

Our team attended a few panels across the two days and watched panels on a variety of topics. 

ESG 

ESG (environmental, social, governance) was one of the event’s key themes, with several panels across the two days covering the subject. It’s not the most exciting topic, but it has become a key part of ethical business and will likely affect us all as global regulations evolve to meet ESG demands.

ESG integration with insurance 

ESG is not just good for the environment, but good for companies as well – that was the point made by Phil Zeidler during the ESG Integration: Aligning Values with Insurance Practices discussion.  

Moving away from the ‘tick-box exercise’ scorn of the mid-2000s, ESG has become a core business value. The insurance industry needs to sit up and pay attention, according to Amir Sethu of MS Amlin, who called for insurance companies to focus on enterprise and ESG in the same way. According to Sethu, they should optimise responsible commercial opportunities, and remember that ESG is much more than simply reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. 

This was an amicable panel: Zeidler (formerly of Dead Happy, the controversial insurance intermediary which went into administration last month) agreed that the best businesses have ESG at their core. 

Deepak Mohan (Allianz Insurance) added that any business’s ethos should be around building a better business and protecting the future. That opened the door for Dominic Stewart of Oracle to highlight that all Oracle data centres are carbon neutral. Stewart was keen to point out that they prioritise partnerships with companies that share the same ethos. 

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. We’re only a year past the ESG backlash incident which saw major insurers – including Allianz – abandon the UN-backed Neto-Zero Insurance Alliance for fear of transgressing USA anti-trust laws. While the panel was amicable, ESG as a topic isn’t always so; theory and practice can often diverge massively. 

ESG in the banking sector 

How important is the banking sector when it comes to net zero? Well, on the ESG: A Banking Imperative panel, Anindita Pal (EY) was clear: banking is an important industry when it comes to the country – and the world – transitioning to net zero. 

Lofty goals, but how do those in the banking sector support these efforts? While ESG has matured a lot in the last 12 to 18 months, according to Yulia Manyutina (RBS), with a greater focus on ESG more widely, there are still challenges.  

Panellist Penny Apostolaki (Strategy to Green) has built much of her career around working with organisations in the banking sector to meet their ESG requirements. We can’t just focus on positive companies, Apostolaki said, but we have a responsibility to help support those that are struggling.  

Fellow panellists were in agreement that the banking sector has a long way to go: Yaroslaw Sovgyra (Lloyds) pointed out that a single ESG methodology isn’t one size fits all. Rather, Sovgyra called for the banking sector to continue to explore and investigate best practices. Yulia Manyutina emphasised the importance of building teams with a common sense of purpose to promote ESG internally. 

As for the ‘E’ in ESG? There’s also still a need for climate risk models, Sovgyra said. 

AI 

It wouldn’t be a tech event in 2024 without a discussion of AI, and MoneyNext was no exception. 

The AI and Automation: Navigating Modern Banking panel focused on the trends we’re seeing now, rather than predictions for the future. Judy Kawaguchi (HSBC) kicked off the panel by discussing the slow take-up of generative AI. While generative AI can expedite automation, she said, people are still suspicious of it – blame the caveman brain. Kawaguchi was keen to point out that suspicion of such a new technology – which is still undergoing testing – is understandable. But fellow panellist Ashish Pabalkar (Bank of America) challenged that. According to Pabalkar, AI is nothing new – what’s changed is that we’re now seeing human-like models.  

But even where companies are keen to adopt generative AI, there are issues around its practical implementation. Pabalkar conceded that while AI can bring with it a lot of efficiencies, there are still a lot of concerns – particularly in the banking industry – about risk. 

Aleksi Helakari (Spirent) added that there are data problems. Lots of more established companies have fragmented data, for historical reasons. Helakari said that lots of organisations don’t have proper data strategies, and so they don’t know how to properly leverage AI. 

But while the older or bigger organisations are still humming and hawing over whether to bite the bullet and implement AI, smaller companies – who have the benefit of being more agile – are racing ahead. Arthur Leung (Shawbrook Bank) said that where last year was about talking, this year is about doing, and we’ve seen a lot of big advances recently. According to Leung, one of those advances is helping employees be more productive or effective at work using AI.  

Image: FinTech Intel

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Robert Welbourn
Robert Welbourn is an experienced financial writer. He has worked for a number of high street banks and trading platforms. He's also a published author and freelance writer and editor.