Series Five, Episode One: Does the FinTech industry have the talent it needs today … and tomorrow?

Posted on May 17, 2019

To kick off series five, we recorded a special episode of DiverCity Podcast at the Innovate Finance Global Summit 2019 in London, we feature interviews with CEOs from across the industry, each offering insights and opinions about where and how to find the talent the industry needs.

Hear highlights from the opening speech by Charlotte Croswell, CEO of Innovate Finance and further thoughts in her interview with host Julia Streets.  Tom Bull of EY offers early insights into the FinTech Census and Alison Rose of NatWest Holdings and RBS updates us on the Prime Minister and Treasury’s review of female entrepreneurship entitled ‘The Rose Review’.

Tim Levine of Augmentum Capital, Karen Rudich of FireDrake,  Adam Toms of Openfin, Ben Brabyn of Level39 and Husayn Kassai of Onfido each offer a wide range of perspectives including how best to educate and attract young people into FinTech, the importance of tapping into diverse pools, how businesses can scale up and accelerate their pace of change, the changing face of leadership in tech, what we need post Brexit and so much more..!

Our guests on this podcast are:

  • Ben Brabyn CEO of Level39
  • Tom Bull, Head of Fintech at EY
  • Charlotte Crosswell, CEO of Innovate Finance
  • Husayn Kassai, CEO of Onfido
  • Karen Rudich, CEO and Founder of FireDrake
  • Tim Levene, CEO of Augmentum
  • Alison Rose, Deputy CEO of NatWest Holdings and CEO, Commercial & Private Banking, Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Adam Toms, CEO Europe, OpenFin

Ben Brabyn

Ben Brabyn, Head of Level39, launched his first digital business in 2001. The world’s first crowdfunding business, Bmycharity combined payments, social networking and data analytics, enabling 800,000 donors to deliver more than £50 million to UK charities. The business was sold to Help for Heroes, the leading charity for British service men and women.

Shortly afterwards, Ben survived a brain tumour while launching his next digital business, an e-commerce site, and also advised various energy, healthcare and social media businesses on strategy, finance and business development. After this, Ben worked for the UK government as of COO of UK Trade and Investment’s Venture Capital Unit, leading a team of VC and sector specialists. The unit established relationships between global investors and a wide range of UK entrepreneurial businesses.

Ben started his career with five years in the British Armed Forces as a Royal Marine Commando. After leaving the Royal Marines as Captain, Ben joined JP Morgan as an analyst working in New York, London and the Middle East.

Ben is an ambassador for the Royal Navy and Heropreneurs, and joined Level39 as Head in February 2016, supporting 200 high-growth technology companies who are transforming the security, productivity and reach of global financial services and other sectors. Ben has a Master’s degree in Philosophy and Literature from Edinburgh University and an MBA from Warwick Business School.

You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenBrabyn.


Tom Bull

Tom is the Director in the Financial Services practice at EY, leading our FinTech sector team in the UK. The practice serves FinTechs, corporate clients and private equity investors on a wide range of strategic, operational, capital raising and deal-related issues.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @tommybull.


Charlotte Crosswell

Charlotte Crosswell is CEO of Innovate Finance. She has spent most of her financial services career in market infrastructure roles. Most recently she was CEO at Nasdaq NLX (“NLX”), a London-based startup derivatives market, and sat on the board of LCH Ltd. She has held a number of management positions at Nasdaq and London Stock Exchange across international capital markets, equities, fixed income, OTC derivatives trading and clearing. In addition to her work with Innovate Finance, Charlotte advises and sits on the boards of technology and FinTech startups. Charlotte holds a BA (Hons.) in French from the Southampton University. She has been included in the list of top 100 Women in Finance over many years.

You can follow Charlotte on Twitter @ccrosswell.


Husayn Kassai

Husayn Kassai is the CEO and co-founder of Onfido, prior to which he served as the President of the Oxford Entrepreneurs student society along with co-founder Eamon Jubbawy. Onfido uses machine learning to deliver next-generation identity verification, helping businesses, ranging from sharing economy to banks, verify identities online using identity document, facial recognition and database searches.

Founded in 2012, Onfido has grown to a team of 150, received over $60m in investment and works with over 1,500 companies globally.

Husayn sits on the Advisory Committee of Oxford Seed Fund and the All Party Parliamentary Group on AI. He has a BA in Economics and Management from Keble College, Oxford.

You can follow Husayn on Twitter @HusaynKassai.


Karen Rudich

Founder and CEO of a challenger firm that focuses on improving profitability of financial services companies through the integration of new/innovative technology with legacy systems. She has led her team in generating multi-million pound turnover and regularly works with top tier banks and cutting edge FinTech/Reg Tech firms that appear on the “Top 10 to watch” lists.

Karen has nearly 20 years’ experience working in the banking sector, including in leadership roles at Lloyds, UBS, and Barclays responsible for large-scale transformation projects that generated billions of pounds in revenue. She is a strategic trouble shooter that looks to develop new ways of working for the best outcome for all.

Karen holds an MBA and started her career in the Canadian chemical engineering industry before moving to the UK to take advantage of the wave where she helped build a tech business that listed on AIM.


Tim Levene

Tim graduated in Russian Studies from The University of Manchester and joined Bain & Company in Moscow, Boston, Sydney and London. Tim embarked on an entrepreneurial path and left Bain in early 1998 and created a new retail concept when he opened his first Juice bar (Fresh n Smooth) in 1999 in Canary Wharf. The business has since evolved into a 31-store business across London called Crussh.

In the summer of 1999, Tim joined 3 former colleagues from Bain & Company and launched Flutter became one of the highest profile internet businesses in the UK after it merged with in 2001. Tim became the Commercial Director of the newly merged business and launched Betfair globally.

In 2010, Tim returned to London to start his next venture. He founded Augmentum Capital with the backing of RIT Capital and Lord Rothschild. The team focused on finding talented entrepreneurial teams in the Fintech industry that were bringing fundamentally disruptive products or platforms to the European market. In 2018, Tim and Richard successfully launched Augmentum Fintech on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, in the process becoming the first publicly listed Fintech fund in the UK.

Tim was made a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012 and for several years advised The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry on digital strategy and innovation. Tim was elected in March 2017 to The Court of Common Council in the City of London to represent the Ward of Bridge (as an Independent). Tim is also a Governor of The City of London School.

Outside of the office, Tim has a young family and has been a Chelsea FC season ticket holder since 1979. He remains a keen footballer, golfer and skier although operating at a more sedate pace than in recent years.

You can follow Tim on Twitter @timlevene.


Alison Rose

Alison Rose is the Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Corporate, Commercial & Private Banking business and joined the Coutts Board on 1 October 2015.

She is a member of the RBS Executive Committee, leading over 16,000 people and accountable for market-leading brands such as Coutts and Lombard.

She has worked at RBS for over 20 years. Prior to her current role, she was Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Markets & International Banking. Previous roles with RBS also include Head of EMEA Corporate Coverage & Client Management, Head of Non–investment Grade Origination and Head of Leveraged Finance for the UK and Europe.

Previously shortlisted for the ‘most influential woman in investment banking’ award by Financial News, Alison is a passionate supporter of diversity and is executive sponsor for the bank’s employee-led networks. She also champions RBS’s partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark, an innovative initiative that is supporting start-up businesses across the UK.

You can follow RBS on Twitter at @RBS.


Adam Toms

Adam Toms is the European CEO of OpenFin, the Operating System (OS) of Finance, which brings the application interoperability we have all come to love on our mobile devices onto the financial desktop. OpenFin has just closed their Series C funding round, having raised $17m from Barclays and Wells Fargo.

During his career, Adam has led numerous high profile businesses and large-scale integration projects resulting in a reputation for delivering industry change.

Before joining OpenFin, Adam served as CEO of Instinet Europe. Under his leadership, the firm ranked #1 for customer volume on the London Stock Exchange, #3 for Pan-European equity customer volume, achieving record market share and profitability.

Prior to Instinet, he was Co-Global Head of Electronic Trading at Nomura having joined as part of the company’s acquisition of Lehman Brothers, where he headed the Market Access Group. Prior to this, Toms was a trader at Barclays Global Investors specialising in index and quantitative trading.You can follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamT_OpenFin.