UK fintech review to propose changes to visa and listing rules

A government-backed review into the UK’s financial technology industry will recommend measures to support fast growing companies after Brexit including special visas for skilled workers and changes to the UK’s listing rules. 

The review, which was launched by chancellor Rishi Sunak at the Budget last March and is being led by former Worldpay chief executive Ron Kalifa, has been tasked by ministers to come up with ideas on how to support the UK’s buoyant fintech sector. 

The government sees the industry as a key area of focus as it considers where to prioritise future industrial strategy efforts after Brexit. London has been the centre for much of the fintech industry in Europe, with so-called “unicorn” companies worth more than £1bn such as Revolut, Monzo and TransferWise setting up in the UK capital. 

But the UK’s departure from the EU raises problems for the future and in particular questions over whether start-ups can attract European talent, which makes up a large proportion of their workforces. The fintech sector is estimated to be worth about £7bn to the UK economy, according to government figures, and employs around 60,000 people in the UK.

The recommendations, which are still being finalised, are expected to propose tech visas to bring in essential talent for the UK’s most dynamic companies, as well as changes to the listing regime to ensure that the London stock market is more attractive to founders of fast growing firms.

According to two people familiar with the review’s work, these are likely to include proposals to allow dual class shares structures for listed companies on the so-called “premium” exchange. Founders often want to retain a stake, which will allow them to retain greater control over the immediate future of the business after IPO.

The review is also expected to back reducing the minimum stake in a company that has to be floated on the market from 25 per cent to 10 per cent. Mr Kalifa is working closely with Jonathan Hill, who is overseeing a separate review into the UK’s listing regime that will also look at changes to share structures and flotation rules.

The review has looked at five specific areas: skills and talent, investment, national connectivity, policy, and international attractiveness.

The review will also look at ways to join up 10 “clusters” of fintech industries around the UK that it has identified, often based around universities that spin off innovative ideas.

It will also push to improve access to institutional investors in the UK such as those in the pensions industry for companies that have reached beyond start-up phase. Other advice is being drawn up about how to improve government oversight and support for fintech companies, with the industry often falling between departments, regulators and private sector organisations.

Mr Kalifa, who has consulted with the industry, is expected to publish the report next month. He declined to comment ahead of publication.

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