Since arriving in the UK with only £30 in her pocket, being homeless and a single mother, Yvonne de Ville has come a long way.
She worked in restaurants, learnt how to code and realised that educating herself was going to be her ticket to success.
Since then, Yvonne de Ville has managed significant business transformations programmes at the likes of PWC, Clifford Chance, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays Capital, Travelex, BP and Unilever. She is the author of a guide to utilising change management tools, called Cracking the Change Management Code.
The business change expert is also chair of the recently established Institute of Directors (IoD) finance and fintech group. The group was established to be the centre of excellence for leaders and entrepreneurs who share this common interest—not only IoD members but all who want to share knowledge, opportunities and new ideas, and use the group as a platform and voice to influence the institute’s own policy teams, as well as opinion leaders across fintech and financial services.
Fintech Intel spoke to Yvonne de Ville to discuss the state of the UK fintech sector, IoD’s new finance and fintech group, being an activist for fintech and using her voice to support women in the sector.
What are the reasons behind the success of the UK fintech sector?
Historically, London and the UK have always been a big financial centre. It is attracting a very large fintech and investment community. After Brexit, the UK government created a visa that attracts fintech talent. We also have large incubators. I am in one at Canary Wharf. There is Level 39, the FinTech Innovation Lab and the DLT Lounge, which is free of charge.
There are big corporations, the banks, offering support for new startups. The Barclays Accelerator, NatWest, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are all very supportive of new startups
And let’s not forget that London has great connections with flights, it’s one of the most diverse communities in the world, and London and the UK are very attractive to students, with universities in Oxford and Cambridge, as well as University College London.
London is also the key leader for fintech events. There are more than 50—way more than San Francisco or New York.
Crucially, the UK government is very supportive of fintech. The UK was the first to launch a regulatory sandbox. It has also created the Global Innovation Networks to bring international regulators together with a view to launching new products.
The government here is very keen to attract not only the talent, but the investment. Cities such as Manchester and Edinburgh are being encouraged to succeed, too. I see that London will continue to prosper and the UK will follow. It’s important for everyone to be included and supported.
Tell us about the IoD finance and fintech group and its plans to influence fintech
The group was created because fintech is at the core of everything we do and we believe it is necessary to bring financial services and fintech closer to everyone.
We want to be the centre of excellence for leaders and entrepreneurs in financial services and fintech. Our three pillars—connect, develop and influence—will underpin our approach.
This will involve collaborating with IoD members to create better businesses together, as well as educating and knowledge sharing. We will also create a platform to influence the opinions of leaders across the industry and the government.
What do you do as a fintech activist?
Becoming the chair of the finance and fintech group has allowed me the opportunity and given me a platform to share my voice to engage and connect with key leaders. That enabled us to collaborate and join our voices together, in order to serve the three pillars.
I believe the only way we can change things is when we work together. As a fintech activist, I network with other activists to ensure that financial services and fintech are brought closer to everyone. I believe that in a silo we can only reach so many people.
How do you use your voice to support women in finance and tech?
Coming to this country with only £30 in my pocket, being homeless and a single mother, I definitely understand the hardship of everyone who does not come from a privileged background—especially the struggles of women. I studied computer science, I worked in the banking sector, and I know how hard it is for women to succeed.
Currently, I’m a volunteer and mentor at the Reed’s Womens Technology Network. I believe leading by example is a valuable means of providing support. As chair of the finance and fintech group, I hope to inspire women to join us and to see that this area can be a choice of career for them.
Image: Yvonne de Ville