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What is the role of PensionBee’s Romi Savova at the UK Growth Stage FinTech Fund?


A new fund – the UK Growth Stage FinTech Fund – has been established by a variety of prolific leaders in the tech and finance industry. Barclays, the London Stock Exchange Group, Mastercard, NatWest, and investment bank Peel Hunt are all involved in a fund that aims to raise £1 billion from institutional investors to support the UK fintech industry. The Fund aims to provide both capital and advice and guidance for FinTech startups to allow them to prosper.

On the board is PensionBee founder Romi Savova. But who is she, why is she on the board over other competitors, and what will she bring to the role?

Savova started her career in traditional banking, working at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in a variety of roles including investment banking, risk management, and financial technology. At Goldman Sachs, Savova worked as a full time Analyst in the Bank and Sovereign industry teams of the Credit Risk Management and Advisory Division, before moving into roles in the Asset Management and swap product teams. Savova then worked as an Associate at Morgan Stanley for two years, before moving into FinTech and becoming a Director of Corporate Development at Credit BenchMark, a global leader in the credit risk data and analytics space.

Following this career in traditional finance Savova gained an MBA at Harvard Business School before graduating and founding PensionBee. Savova explained in an interview what inspired her to start PensionBee: “As a professional, I found it hard to put all my pension pots in one place that I could see myself, understand the fees and performance of the plan. The motivation to make finance better was the backbone of how PensionBee started.” Savova found trying to organise her pension into one place as complicated with excessive paperwork and fees and complex processes.

The online service is a digital native company, allowing customers to combine their pensions in one place, made easily accessible for customers through an app. The company, founded only in 2014, achieved Assets under Management (AUM) of over £3 billion in November 2022, a 17 percent increase year on year compared to the £2.6bn reported at the end of 2021.

The company’s popularity has also increased. A trading report revealed active investors in PensionBee Group increased by 56 per cent over 2022. The update showed that PensionBee’s invested customers totalled 183,000 as of 31 December 2022, an increase on the 117,000 reported December of 2021. The company said this is due to new inflow from new and current customers.

Savova has been active in encouraging equality in pay, pushing for more visibility about the pay and pensions gap between men and women. Savova stated in an interview: “it’s important for companies to start tracking these metrics as early as possible and, if necessary, while changes are easier to make.” Research conducted by PensionBee found the huge gender gap in men and women’s pensions, revealing a 38% between men and women’s pension pot. Drawing on their research, Savova made the decision to report PensionBee’s pay gap voluntarily. The company currently has just 200 employees and is not legally obligated to share this data as they don’t have over 250 employees.

PensionBee is also highly rated by current and former employees. On company comparison site GlassDoor, the company scored 80% for current and former employees, who would recommend working there and have a positive outlook for the company. This was drawn from 20 employee submissions. Competitor NutMeg reviews showed 78% of employees would recommend working there, although this is from over 90 employee reviews and Raindrop scored 90%.

In an interview Savova explained one infrastructure she has to ensure development and happiness in her colleagues: “Everyone takes an active role in recruiting and managing employees at PensionBee. HR is not really a function for a separate department. Of course, we have HR policies and a system for communicating and enforcing company rules, but to develop talent, people need managers and colleagues who care about them.”

Savova has now been invited to be on the advisory board of the UK Growth Stage FinTech Fund, alongside seven other prolific figures in the sector. These include Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Chair of Moneyfarm, Founder of Snoop, and Ex CEO of Virgin Money, and Philip Smith, Founder and former CEO of Embark Group. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Phillip Hammond is the chair of the advisory board. The executive team has been chosen for their experience in venture capital, FinTech, and government.

The Fund is backed by institutional capital and will invest in UK FinTechs, to enable them to scale into world-class global organisations in a bid to bolster Britain’s global image as a FinTech investment hub. Predominantly for companies between Series B and pre-IPO, the fund is expected to deliver four to eight investments per year for equity and equity-linked securities, including minority investments, with capital ranging from £10 million to £100 million. While FinTech-focused funds like Augmentum FinTech and Anthemis Group exist, this is the first time a fund which is FinTech-oriented and with government-led strategy.

The move comes at a time when the government has faced criticism for not supporting FinTech start-ups and pushing them to go abroad due to the government’s regulation.

Alongside the investment capital, the FinTech Growth Fund, which is where Savova and the partners will be involved, will provide strategic support to its portfolio companies to help them achieve their corporate ambitions. Giving the FinTech start-ups access to an ecosystem of deep, relevant experience across FinTech, venture capital, and the wider financial services ecosystem.

The Government has been criticised for failing to remove the barriers that limit the FinTech space’s ability to grow. With the Growth Fintech Fund, the government is clearly trying to throw its weight behind the industry. Whether or not the FinTech start-ups prosper and have enough support will be the test for Romi Savova and the other partners on the committee. But will it be enough?

Author: Bronwen Latham

#PensionBee #FinTech #PeelHunt #VCs #Banking

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