02 March 2018
Interview: London Fintech Conference Student Leaders
Fintech space coming to discuss the latest trends in the industry ranging from emerging entrepreneurs and the most prominent companies disrupting the industry, to key policymakers and investors.
The London Fintech Conference (LFC) is a student led annual event bringing together the brightest minds in the Fintech industry. Started by a group of like-minded students from different universities throughout London in 2016, the conference promises an affordable and accessible experience for students like themselves to hear from key players in the Fintech space and connect with potential mentors, investors and clients.
We recently sat down with King’s Business School Students Georges, co-founder of LFC and Ilanna, Head of LFC and member of King’s Business School Business Club (KCLBC) to find out how the conference got started and what they are excited for at this year’s event on 7 March.
Tell us about LFC, how did it start and what was the initial vision?
‘In 2015 as members of KCLBC, myself and a group of friends from other universities were talking about Fintech which was becoming a big hype. People were really interested in it but there weren’t any affordable opportunities for students to learn more and meet leaders in the industry. We were also looking for a way to boost KCLBC’s reputation. The first event took place at King’s in 2016 with 180 people in attendance. Although it was challenging, people enjoyed it and it’s grown from there. Our vision is to provide an interesting and affordable event for students and young professionals. Last year we had 500 people come along throughout the day with 85% of them being students.’
How did you get involved and what areas are you involved with this year?
‘I was in my first year of studies when myself and a group of friends came up with the initial idea and discussed how it might work. I was in charge for the second year, now the responsibility has shifted to other people, but everyone works together and is really involved.’
‘I joined KCLBC at the end of my first year where I learnt about LFC and wanted to get involved. This year I am one of the leaders of the conference. Since the conference is now in its third year, a lot of the hard work has been done so I am focused more on press contacts and searching for the best venue that looks most professional.’
This year’s event will focus on some of 2018’s biggest business trends such as cryptocurrency and AI, what are you looking forward to learning more about at the conference?
‘Every year we try to keep up with the latest trends. Last year was big on crypto space and bitcoin investors and earlier this year the bubble burst. This year our focus is more on how people can adapt that technology in their everyday work. So, it’s not only around the investing aspect or consumer trend, it’s also about how cryptocurrencies can help businesses run smoother. I am also always excited about the venture capital panel. The people on the panel are at the top of their industry, they see a lot of action in their space and have a lot of insight into business trends. ‘
‘I was always very interested in the fintech industry. Helping with the conference I want to see how a conference this size is organised. For example, how do you book a venue or contact high profile speakers. Now I’m involved my focus is to soak up and learn everything. ‘
Is there anyone coming to the event that you are particularly excited to hear from?
‘One of the biggest names coming to the conference is the founder of Revolut who has built a business worth around 1 billion USD. It’s particularly interesting because last year we had Transferwise at the Fintech conference which operates in a similar space, so it will be interesting to compare the differences in approach. I’m also interested in InsurTech and this year we have a company called Cytora who is heavily focused on Artificial Intelligence and it’s interesting to see how they adapt their offering for the Insurance market which is traditionally quite old fashioned. ‘
‘I’m particularly interested in Artificial Intelligence and its application in everyday life as well as the different areas that AI can be used in.’
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt so far organising this event?
‘I never expected this event to grow so rapidly, becoming something that we organise on a yearly basis and potentially becoming something we are involved with after we graduate. I’ve learnt a lot about team management, everyone has their own obligations and it can be hard to balance and communicate within the organising committee. The experience has also given me a no-barrier- mindset in terms of approaching speakers, knowing that if you map out exactly what you want things are always possible. ‘
‘From working with LFC and being a part of KCLBC in general I’ve learnt to be more organised with my time and how to work in teams for projects that aren’t part of my class. I’ve learnt a lot about contacting speakers and putting out that initial email and understanding that you really need to work hard to book a venue and confirm guests. To be involved in what you want you really must take every opportunity.’
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a similar venture?
‘Just go and do it, you will learn from your mistakes on your own. It can be straining having so many tasks to do and not knowing where or how to start, but as soon as you get one thing done you’ll create a snowball effect and manage to overcome barriers. Our goal from day one is to create something of value for like minded people, if you have a great team and shared goal there’s no reason why it cannot be done. ‘
What do you study at King’s Business School and how has this helped with organising the event?
‘I’m in my third year of Business Management which has helped to spark my interest into entrepreneurship. Not only has my course inspired me but the environment of King’s Business School and the activities as part of the Entrepreneurship Institute and KCLBC inspire me too. It has given me the opportunity to experiment and learn from mentors. When I think of my studies I see it as my theoretical groundwork giving me the confidence to organise LFC and gain practical experience. As well as being a part of the conference I have completed different internships in the Fintech industry. It’s the real-world experience combined with our studies, academics and people around us that provides the full package. ‘
‘I am in my second year studying Business Management. Coming from first studying in France, the class hours are longer, making it hard to take on extra commitments. At King’s Business School we are encouraged to be more aware of what is going on in the outside world. Also, the people who surround me at KCLBC and LFC are all driven to be part of different clubs, humanitarian projects and internships. This changed my mindset completely and I became more interested in being part of different activities outside of my studies. ‘
Can you tell us more about KCLBC and how you are involved?
‘We try to incorporate as much interest as possible by splitting the club into different areas to include divisions such as finance, consulting and start-ups. Our main focus is putting on events for our members, such as panel talks and competitions as well as going on company visits to give our students different experiences. We try to engage with other industries which gives KCLBC a point of difference to similar societies. ‘
‘I work with the start-up and business team within KCLBC. We put on different size events like start-up panels and guest speaker series with large audiences as well as smaller events with 10 to 15 people which is a nice mix. Right now, we are organising an idea competition for start-ups. This has developed from simply sending ideas to the judges via email, to this year including different workshops to develop and shape the ideas from the start-ups before presenting to the judges. The more we grow and continue to develop, the better our events become.’
Tell us about yourself, what made you want to study your chosen courses and what are your future career plans?
‘I am originally from Estonia and have always had an interest in finance and entrepreneurship, so it made sense to apply to the course I am in. After graduation, I am considering going down two different routes, one being product management and the other venture capital. These areas aren’t necessarily the most common for young graduates as they don’t often have grad schemes but through my experience at King’s and working with LFC I have learned to go for my goals. At some point I wish to do a masters in analytics and the end goal is to start something of my own in a sector I am familiar with, like Fintech.’
‘I was born in Boston and lived in the US for a few years before moving back to France in 2002. I am also Spanish so I’m a bit from everywhere. I moved to London when I started at King’s for the international environment and I recently came back from an exchange in Toronto. I’m not sure what I want to in the future, but for the moment I am interested in the start-up sector and finance. I want to stay open to different opportunities, this summer I am looking forward to my internship. ‘
Tickets are on sale now for LFC on 7 March. Buy tickets to London Fintech Conference.