A recent webinar focusing on the opportunities for overseas FinTech companies in the UK heard from a range of practitioners, professional advisers, and even the Lord Mayor of London himself to discuss how to translate local success in NZ into a foothold in the well-established UK ecosystem. Organised by FinTech NZ, the webinar guests discussed a new report that outlines the opportunities in the fintech sector for greater cross-border trade and investment between the UK and New Zealand.
And, as the world adapts to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand is already in talks to launch a Free Trade Agreement something that both governments hope will provide an opportunity to bring fintech communities closer. But there’s no doubt that crossing the divide from NZ to the UK isn’t a walk in the park, which explains why Paul Beare was on hand to brief attendees on the challenges growing businesses will face when they take the plunge and set up in the UK.
There can be something of a culture shock for those businesses aiming to cross the bridge. Despite the many similarities between the two countries, some important customs and regulations do differ. From employment law to banking practice, setting up in the UK will offer some challenges. As Paul pointed out to the many assembled guests, getting it right at the outset can save a lot of time later on.
“We help you set up in the UK as a branch or a subsidiary and we then run through and operate one of our client trust accounts, a designated client account that you can use until your actual company account is operational.”
Paul went on to explain that any banking set up process will need to take into account the UK’s increasingly onerous anti-money laundering (AML) regime. “That has changed and it can be painful and time-consuming for NZ businesses because trusts of ownership; family/discretionary or unit trusts aren’t very common in the UK.
“As soon as an overseas entity application lands on a compliance officer’s desk, the admin burden can be detailed and extensive; so it can sometimes be a case of the bank saying ‘Sorry we’re not interested’. That’s where a good adviser who can navigate the labyrinth comes in.”
And it’s not just banking. “For those overseas companies that grow to a point where they begin to take on staff, they will need to provide a contract of employment to each new employee at their start date – there is no longer a period of grace with that,” he explained.
Paul’s third main focus was on the issue of auto-enrolment, the automatic pension regulation that shares much in common with kiwi-saver, or superannuation. “The main difference in the UK is that employees can opt-out and they don’t necessarily need to remain in the scheme and perhaps use a self-invested pension and request a company contribution to that. Those types of issues are precisely why it helps to engage an expert adviser that truly understands UK regulations and can get you through this with a minimum of fuss.”