5 min read

11:YEARS - the 11:FS documentary examining the rise of UK fintech

David M. Brear

At 11:FS, we’re proud to be an integral part of a UK community at the forefront of post-financial crisis innovation. But the story of how that community came together has never been told… until now.

We all remember where we were that day. September 15th, 2008: the day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.

There had been warning signs for months.

In the UK, things were already looking bad. Bank run bad. ‘People queuing outside branches of Northern Rock demanding their money back’ bad. ‘HBOS being forced to merge with Lloyds to prop it up’ bad.

But this one hit. And hard. The fourth largest (at the time) bank in the world was no more. Gone. In the hours, days and weeks after the collapse, it really seemed like the banking industry was going to collapse.

I watched it unfold on BBC News. I’d been in banking for all of about five minutes, which led to some pretty awkward conversations with my wife about why I'd left the relative safety of insurance.

Great timing, David.

As the dominoes fell, it seemed bleak. Ten days after Lehmans, Wachovia was gone, then Washington Mutual.

The job losses were terrible. People were losing their homes; business couldn’t get funding or loans. More than anything, trust in the banking system was being lost.

But what happened next was pretty extraordinary and has changed the banking industry, I believe, forever.

So we decided to tell the untold story. The one we know in bits here and there but not in totality

As we sit here in late 2019, we see a lot of success stories. New banks with multi-billion pound valuations; new players across retail, savings; SME banking shaking up the status quo.

That’s amazing.

But we haven’t paused to reflect on how and why we got here. To spotlight the key people involved in making it happen. To remember a time when there were no ‘challenger’ banks and ‘fintech’ wasn’t a thing. So how did it arise?

Step forward11:YEARS

It’s something I've thought about a lot. So we decided to tell the untold story. The one we know in bits here and there but not in totality.

The mechanics of how it occured (think the Florida scene from The Big Short and the reaction from Steve Carrell’s character!), the global fallout and governmental response have all been done. We’ve also had plenty of human interest stories about the fallout and its impact on consumer.

We wanted to tell the story of how, out of the chaos, an environment developed that is considered the model for creating, supporting and sustaining innovation in financial services.

11:YEARS examines how the UK created a thriving and diverse ecosystem that grew into the flourishing global fintech capital that is the envy of the world. I liken it to the Galapagos islands: a place with some unique characteristics that is now studied and analysed to understand how it came to be.

It also serves as a cautionary tale as we enter a pivotal time for the UK: we must guard against complacency

That mix of forward-thinking regulators, talented technologists and investors who solved issues that had been exacerbated and, in some cases, created by the financial crisis. This was particularly true in the UK, and more specifically in London.

11:YEARS is a celebration of everything that has been achieved, the people who made it happen and those who are still at the forefront of innovation, either in policy-making, challenger banks, or fintech.

The documentary includes interviews with The Bank of England, Barclays, the FCA, HSBC, The Deputy Mayor of London, Monzo, OakNorth, Revolut, Starling, Zopa and many more.

It reveals their motivations for creating a framework that allows innovation to thrive, how and why they financed certain firms, and their personal reasons for enacting meaningful change in the financial services industry.

What comes next?

So it’s a positive message. One of sustained success. We’re now seeing Monzo, Revolut and others expanding into new regions all over the world.

But it also serves as a cautionary tale as we enter a pivotal time for the UK: we must guard against complacency to ensure we retain and expand its global standing and influence.

The UK has the talent, imagination and determination to remain at the forefront of financial services innovation

It’s a fascinating time. We’re on a continuously shifting banking battlefield. We’ve done so much, worked so hard, built so much. Truly great stuff. We have a model that works so well it’s being copied all over the globe. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

However, we cannot be complacent. We need to ensure the services created here, the ones that are rapidly becoming household names, continue to be founded, funded and supported. They have to make us the undisputed world leader.

I believe the UK has the talent, imagination and determination to remain at the forefront of financial services innovation.

So go watch 11:YEARS and let us know what you think. In the coming weeks, we’ll also be asking you, the financial services community, if you know any unsung heroes we should highlight as contributors to this ongoing success. Stay tuned!

11years.film

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 David M. Brear
About the author

David M. Brear

David is the CEO of 11:FS and since his dream of being a sportsperson was crushed (along with the ligaments in his knee!) and he had to get a proper job, he has worked in pretty much every angle of financial services industry but never lost that competitive desire to win.

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