Author: Daniel Waldron
UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will reportedly launch a fresh UK visa scheme to help fintech firms based in London attract more global talent following Brexit. Priority access will be given to professionals in the tech industry under a new, fast-track visa scheme as part of the wider post-Brexit UK immigration system.
According to a report published by The Sunday Telegraph, Sunak is eager to protect the UK’s £7 billion fintech sector and its global reputation for years to come. The new visa scheme is expected to be officially announced in his 3 March budget.
With major firms like Cazoo, Monzo and Revolut based in London, the UK’s capital is one of the world’s largest fintech hubs. It’s understood that these three firms, alongside five others with headquarters in Britain, have achieved so-called ‘Unicorn’ status – meaning that they are worth more than £1 billion.
Tech Nation to welcome visa scheme
According to Whitehall sources, Sunak’s new visa scheme will be welcomed by Tech Nation – an organisation designated by the Home Office to endorse applications for the UK’s Global Talent Visa.
It’s understood that the idea for the new visa came from ex-Worldplay chief executive, Ron Kalifa, following an independent review on how to boost the UK’s fintech sector post-Brexit.
The stability of the fintech sector amid a mass exodus of EU citizens from London is a cause for concern. According to research published by the Migration Observatory, based at Oxford University, approximately 500,000 EU citizens left the UK in 2020, the majority of which were living in London.
Reports of a new UK tech visa come amid a PwC report that revealed 52% of financial institutions expect to have more ‘gig-based employees’ over the next three to five years.
PwC claims that gig employees will perform 15% to 20% of the work of a typical financial firm within five years, largely driven by continuous cost pressures and a need to access digitally skilled talent.
PwC’s global financial services leader, John Garvey, said: “Leaders in the industry are looking seriously at their workforces to evaluate which roles need to be performed by permanent employees and which can be performed by gig-economy workers, contractors or even crowd-sourced on a case-by-case basis.”
COVID-19 and remote working have opened the door to accessing talent outside of a firm’s physical location, including outside of the country. What we are seeing now is a talent marketplace for gig workers in financial services, competing to take advantage of their specialist skill set and boost productivity within their businesses,” Mr Garvey added.
The Sunday Telegraph report said: “The final details of the new visa are still being drawn up, but insiders expect it will be similar to the Global Talent Visa announced last year to attract the world’s leading scientists to Britain.”
The UK Treasury has reportedly been looking at ways to drive the development of Britain’s financial technology sector following Brexit, with London facing significant challenges from European rivals.
London currently tops the rankings for fintech companies, according to an index compiled by real estate brokers, Savills.