I have heard that HM Treasury is considering removing tax benefits to those investing in start-up companies, EIS and SEIS.
This must be avoided at all costs.
The financial technology industry (Fintech) has grown rapidly in the UK in the last decade, stimulated by five factors:
1. Entrepreneurial talent
2. Favourable regulatory backdrop
3. Willingness to collaborate not compete
4. Consumers and businesses willing to adopt new products and services
5. Access to capital for start-ups
Based on recent estimates, the Fintech industry, that includes many payments companies, now employs 50,000 across the UK and represents about 10% of the Financial Conduct Authority's 57,000 regulated firms and 5% of the UK's total financial services industry
(source: CBI Survey,
Funding our future, Enabling Financial Services to Deliver Prosperity Across the UK, October 2018).
The fifth factor in this list, access to tax-efficient capital, is critical. The other four are sufficient but not necessary to the creation of a global centre of excellence; capital is essential. The UK's Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) allows individuals
to invest in the success of others. It enables those fortunate to enjoy past gains from commercial or property investments to invest in new ventures at a considerably lower risk, and enjoy the benefits of success with a minimal tax burden.
As the Director General of a trade association comprising of many Fintech companies alongside more established global players such as banks and payments networks, I applaud these tax schemes. They are an essential ingredient in the UK's position – according
to last month's Economist – as the world's leading Fintech hub.
Personally, I have invested in eight early stage payments companies. One has done well and given excellent payback. One is looking like it will give me a superb ROI. Four or five are doing fine. One is struggling. None have gone bust. And none would have
benefited from my investment without EIS and SEIS.
Where would you rather my money and the money of many others resides? In these companies, stimulating employment and future tax-earning income for owners and employees; generating innovative products for consumers' and businesses' problems; and attracting
investment and attention for the UK? Or sitting in the bank doing nothing useful?
Any attempt to reduce this tax benefit, or the Entrepreneur's Tax Relief that also enables those with their 'toes close to the entrepreneurial fire' to win rather than the tax collector, would seriously damage our place on the world stage.
This, at a time when our post-Brexit position is so essential, would be folly indeed. As the CBI survey (published this month, Funding our Future, Enabling Financial Services to Deliver Prosperity Across the UK, October 2018) asserts: We must remain committed
to a leading role to keep the UK at the centre of financial services regulatory and taxation policy at the global level.
In the 1970's in his album Tea for the Tillerman, Cat Stevens reminded us to keep rewarding those who help us on our journey.
Let's not stop rewarding investors when we need them most to take us to the other side of Brexit.