Help change the financial status quo and develop leadership skills too

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 25th Jan 2016

The Finance Innovation Lab fellowship is now open for applications

Are you building a better way to do finance? Why not apply to be a 2016 fellow of the Finance Innovation Lab.

This unique programme aims to boost fellows’ strategic know-how, transform their leadership skills and prepare them for scaling their business. Fellows will look at the barriers that are stopping growth, build the contacts needed to succeed, and raise their profile with investors and the media.

Fellowship – incubating the next generation of financial pioneers

Lab fellowship is a six-month programme of business coaching, action learning and leadership development for financial innovators with a social or environmental purpose.

The programme is free to start-ups and takes place from March to October 2016 in London. It includes monthly business strategy and peer coaching sessions, social events to connect fellows to the wider Finance Innovation Lab community, and a two-day residential leadership retreat.

What is the Finance Innovation Lab and why are they doing this?

The Finance Innovation Lab connects and builds the capacity of people working for positive change in the financial system. Established in 2009 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-UK) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), its vision is a financial system that’s democratic, responsible and fair: one that works for people and planet.

The Finance Innovation Lab believes our financial system has become disconnected from the needs of people, the environment and the economy. Most financial innovation stays within this status quo, which risks perpetuating the negative impacts of the financial system in the years to come.

Genuinely disruptive innovators – those who put social and environmental concerns at the heart of their work – face real challenges in growing their businesses. These include resistance from existing players, a regulatory framework that doesn’t fit, and a lack of public engagement with finance. If new businesses are not supported to thrive, they believe we won’t see the sustainable financial system we deserve. The Finance Innovation Lab wants to empower the next generation of pioneers in socially useful finance to make the biggest possible impact.

There are lots of fintech incubators. What’s different about Lab fellowship?

Unlike other fintech or financial incubators, the fellowship programme is:

  • Designed for innovators with a social or environmental purpose and the potential to change the wider financial system
  • Based on real-world experience – monthly sessions enable fellows to put learning into practice and test new leadership skills
  • Free of charge to start-ups – no participation fees or equity shares
  • Focussed on developing leaders and connecting fellows with a community of more than 2,500 individuals supporting financial systems change.

The Finance Innovation Lab works with innovators creating new business models, campaigners calling for change, and people working in mainstream finance who want to repurpose their professions. It’s a globally recognised pioneer in systems change and works on a not-for-profit basis.

What will fellows gain?

The Finance Innovation Lab agrees we deserve a financial system that serves people and planet – and that financial innovators should be supported to take the lead. In addition to routes for scaling the business and leadership development, fellows will become part of a community of peers supporting each other to change the status quo in finance, connect with influencers across the financial system and deepen their knowledge of the financial system and identify levers for change.

Fellows will also gain:

  • Free access to the major Transforming Finance 2016 conference on 11 May, with opportunities to showcase work
  • Expert support to identify and tackle structural barriers to change
  • Opportunities to raise their profile with the Lab community and financial media.

Who can be a Lab fellow?

Those who are actively developing a financial product or service which puts social or environmental concerns at the heart of their business model. Those who are driven by a desire to meet a need in society and change the way finance is done. Those who believe that finance should be democratic, responsible and fair, and who want to contribute to wider change in the financial system.

Potential fellows do not need to working on their idea full-time, but will have already shown commitment to it and be seeking support to take the business to the next level.

You can find out more about the selection criteria here, and more about the programme structure here.

You can read more here about the Finance Innovation Lab’s current senior fellows, including Bruce Davies, Zopa co-founder and now MD of Abundance; Julia Groves, founder of Trillionfund and the UK Crowdfunding Association; Brett Scott, journalist, campaigner and author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money; and Tony Greenham, director of Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing at the RSA,  previously head of Finance and Business at the New Economics Foundation.