Scaling with technology and data teams in financial services and FinTech

Recap Summary


Guests and speakers both battled against the challenges posed by freezing cold weather, treacherous roads and train strikes to join us in Glasgow for our most recent event - a collaboration between FinTech-Tables and MBN Solutions.

We gathered at the MBN offices as we considered opportunities and challenges when scaling a business in financial services and fintech with a focus on technology and data talent.

The discussion was led by MBN Solutions Client Services Director, Robin Huggins, and he was joined by a panel of industry experts from Natwest, JP Morgan Chase, Experian and Zumo.


There were a number of key talking points across the session, with audience engagement throughout. Key areas of focus were:

  • - How to build data and technology teams around strategic business priorities

- Leveraging technology and data solutions to meet your customers financial needs

- Key considerations and challenges when scaling your team

- How to scale and manage regulatory change

5 key takeaways from the session:

- Business strategy and growth priorities should be aligned with customer experience in order to deliver real impact from data and technology. These two areas must go hand in hand and should be developed through a collaborative approach across the entire organisation.

- The biggest drawback when growing data and technology teams is a dilution of culture. When scaling teams orgainsations must ensure that everyone is aligned on company culture and values. 

- It is important to recognise the importance of hiring a diverse range of talent and when scaling your team and to embrace a diverse range of values and approaches across entire orgainsations

- Education for customers and teams is critical in driving adoption of financial products / services / technologies.

- “Customer who are sticky drive growth”


Guest Bios:

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Marilena Karanika, Head of Data Innovation, Experian

Marilena Karanika is the Head of Data Innovation at Experian, providing data and analytics support across different product domains such as affordability, credit risk and insurance.

With more than 10 years of experience in Credit Risk Modelling and Analytics in financial services, a key area of her expertise is enabling organisations to make better use of data, reach more informed decisions and support consumers throughout the customer lifecycle. Most recently Marilena and her team created and launched products that helped clients understand the impact of events such as the Cost of Living crisis and COVID to help them navigate these challenging times.

Marilena is passionate about the power of financial education and works with universities and professional bodies to deliver guest lectures and industry talks promoting a better and wider understanding of analytics and responsible data ownership. She has been voted Innovator of the Year 2021 in the Women in Credit Awards.


Vicky Byrom, Chief Data & Analytics Office Officer, Zumo

Vicky has over 20 years experience delivering analytics projects across both private and public sectors, enabling companies to effectively use their data to make better decisions. She currently is the Chief Data & Analytics Officer for the crypto wallet app Zumo, and has previously headed up the data functions within FinTech scale up Modulr.

She won the Data IQ award 2019 for Data Analytics leader of the year when she led the multi-award winning Advanced Analytics practice for Merkle UK, and was a member of the AI steering committee for the Scottish Government.

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Robert Betts, Executive Director, JP Morgan

Robert is a non-typical thinker. He is an Open Source and inclusive workplace advocate. A dotcom veteran with many years of experience across Finance, Banking, Investment Management and Fintech startups. Currently an Executive Director at JPMorgan Chase, Asset and Wealth Management and serving as the Regional lead for Managed Accounts, Client Data and Client Service Technology.

Data has been central throughout much of his career from postulating on e-commerce possibilities through personalisation in the 90’s to rolling out investment personalisation at scale today. Data regulation, distribution, aggregation, security are daily challenges he faces when growing teams and building platforms to service the needs of customers.

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Gordon Jackson, Head of Personalisation Products, Natwest

Gordon is Head of Personalisation Products at Natwest. He is an established leader of customer experience and digital transformation through data, analytics and marketing platforms. In his current role his work is focused on improving the ability of Natwest to personalise customer experiences through advanced analytics and technology. He is actively involved in development and execution of strategy to create partnerships and offer data products to the market.

In previous roles at Natwest he has helped to scale an innovation start up from 15k customers to a set of products that are used to create personalised experiences for all Retail, Wealth and Commercial customers across the organisation's entire portfolio. He has led a number of teams of highly skilled product designers, engineers, data scientists and cloud platform developers.


Robin Huggins, Client Services Director, MBN Solutions (Event Chair)

As Director of Client Services for MBN Solutions, Rob has spent over two decades at the sharp end of Talent Acquisition practice for the Data sector.

During this time, he has partnered with some of the UK’s leading data-driven businesses to deliver best-in-class talent solutions. In addition, working in an advisory capacity, Rob designed, built, and delivered the Data Lab’s MSc Placement Programme, has contributed to forums including Scotland’s AI Strategy and DMA Council and sits on University of Glasgow’s School of Maths & Stats Industrial Advisory Board.

A regular data industry blogger and event host, Rob also now hosts a data leadership focussed podcast called Boss’n’Data and has been recognised by Data IQ as one of their 100 most influential Data and Analytics practitioners in UK organisations for two years running.

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