The CEO of a leading London fintech startup says the government’s planned crackdown on foreign workers would be a “competitive disadvantage” for the nascent industry.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in a speech earlier this month that the government would make it harder for companies to give jobs to immigrants before recruiting British people, as part of a post-Brexit crackdown on immigration. Rudd also announced plans to force businesses to list all the foreign nationals they employ.
Christian Faes, CEO of online mortgage marketplace LendInvest, told Business Insider:”It’s hard to recruit good people and if you’re restricted in who you can hire that will definitely be a competitive disadvantage for the UK.
“I can understand the Conservatives are trying to go for this middle ground and there’s politics at play, but at the same time fintech in the UK has become a real industry, it does employ a lot of people, and it does rely on a lot of foreign nationals and skills coming into it.”
Fintech — financial technology — has exploded in Britain since the financial crisis and the UK has become a world leader in the booming field. The sector, which spans everything from payment technology to deep tech within banks, supports 61,000 jobs in the UK, according to a report from EY earlier this year, and contributes billions to the economy. Cities such as Singapore, New York, and Berlin have been vying to take London’s fintech crown.
Just like banking, the fintech community is a melting pot of nationalities. Many companies operate in highly specialised niches and must scour the globe to find relevant expertise.
Faes, who is himself an Australian expat, says: “We employ a lot of foreign nationals for example so there’s a lot of anxiety around that. It potentially could [have an impact on fintech industry]. It’s definitely already increasing anxiety around what it means and how it works for our business at a time when it’s really unhelpful.
“To be honest it’s just a bit annoying. There is anxiety in the workforce and it’s a bit out of touch with reality.”
Faes and LendInvest join TransferWise, another top fintech firm, in criticising the government’s stance on immigration. The online international money transfer service this week highlighted in a blog post the fact that it employs 26 nationalities in its London office.
The CEO of Suade, a London fintech startup that helps banks deal with regulation, this week also called on the government to do more to support the fintech industry in the wake of the Brexit vote, telling Business Insider: “I’m not saying that London can’t continue being the best capital for fintech in Europe but we need some clear leadership and direction.”
Education Secretary Justine Greening on Sunday announced that the government’s proposed lists of foreign workers employed by companies would not be made public.
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