Whooping. That’s the first thing I notice about New York FinTech Week.
People over here, they love to whoop. I only ever whoop on a girls’ night out, after of wine; activities followed by the inevitable morning after self-loathing (“oh no, was I really whooping last night? I have to get help”). This is not a problem faced by our American cousins. They can whoop stone cold sober. Chuck in the word ‘tech’ somewhere and the whoops go off the scale. I blame Steve Jobs and the cult of Apple. Me, and the rest of the British RegTech delegation, are at the New York FinTech week launch drinks at Barclays Rise, Manhattan, and the most we can muster is a smattering of polite applause. This is the way we roll. After all, we’re from London, innovation capital of the world, and we have nothing to prove. I’m not sure the New Yorkers agree with this but we know it to be so. Still, it’s nice to be here. It’s New York!
I throw myself into the networking drinks with gusto, sticking to my tried and tested technique of no alcohol, lots of chutzpah. I figure that if I’m missing my kids’ bedtime (for a week) I’d better make it count. Plus, it’s fun to meet new people. I approach a group of friendly looking New Yorkers, who wear badges saying they’re from the Mayor’s Office. London or New York, I ask? Silly question. My fault, I have the London Mayor on the brain as he’s my neighbour in Tooting. Oh well. We engage in some chit chat; one man tells me how his role is to run tech for the whole of NYC. I’m not sure what this means, but am enlightened when 20 minutes later he gets up on to the stage to deliver the key note speech. I quickly re-run our conversation to check whether I was sufficiently supplicant and polite. Tick. The next day when I’m trying to connect to the useless wifi in my hotel room, up pops the LinkNYC free wi-fi network. I realise that this is the doing of Miguel a Gamino, the charming man I met and am hugely impressed, even though he doesn’t work for Sadiq.
My next victim is a very relaxed and self-assured man with whom I fall into easy conversation. I spend a good ten minutes filling him in on the Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab we’ve just finished, and telling him how great it was. I was so impressed by Accenture, I say. “And what do you do?” “ I run a global financial services practice” he says. “Who for?” “Deloitte.” Still, he gives me his card. I think it’s going to be an interesting week.
This blog was first published by Innovate Finance on April 28th 2017.