Leading women in fintech: Caroline Plumb – Fluidly

Perhaps the most interesting career of the series yet – Fluidly founder and CEO Caroline Plumb is the fourth pioneer to challenge the prolific gender disparity in the UK fintech sector.

27th Jul 2020
Staff Writer AccountingWEB
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Fluidly founder and CEO Caroline Plumb

It’s no secret that fintech has gender issues. Despite the constant evolution of the fintech industry, women are still underrepresented globally as founders and CEOs of fintechs.

It is curious how a rapidly evolving industry, vital to the UK’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, still fails to represent 50% of its target market. 

However, we cannot forget the empowering figures in the industry who add to fintech a female voice. As the founder and CEO of cashflow forecasting tool Fluidly, Caroline Plumb is no exception to this small group of impressive female pioneers, driving fintech to match its level of innovation with its level of diversity.

Caroline Plumb

As former CEO and co-founder of Decidedly (formerly Freshminds), Caroline Plumb is somewhat of a serial entrepreneur. Appointed OBE in 2016 for services to business and charity, Plumb is a director of AIM-listed Mercia Technologies and also co-founded the Covid-19 Volunteer Testing Network in February this year.

In 2003, she featured in Management Today's 35 Women Under 35 list for outstanding services in the business field. Plumb was later appointed by the Prime Minister as a UK Business Ambassador in 2010.

Last year (2019) Plumb was listed in the UK Tech 100 list, both as one of the 30 most important, interesting, and impactful women, and the most influential people shaping British technology in 2019.

What is at the root of the fintech industry’s gender disparity?

Maybe it’s the perception that a lot of finance is a shiny building in Canary Wharf. But fintech isn’t actually like this – it's much broader, so maybe it’s the perspective that women are given going into it. But we already know that less than 1% of venture capital (VC) goes to women-led companies. 

Even outside fintech, women are minority recipients of capital, so we have to look at who is backing businesses and ask if they are diverse in their funding. We need to look at where the money flows and who it is flowing to.

What needs to be done?

The allocation of capital needs to change. Firstly, more minorities wanting to be backed need to pitch and say “I want to be funded”. And VC firms need to change. If they are just meeting white men, then it’s not going to work for diversity. 

People who put money into VCs then get inserted into the business, so they should be asking questions about the diversity, the mix and how they allocate capital to businesses. 

One piece of advice would you pass on to the next generation of fintech pioneers?

You have to fall in love with your problem, not your solutions. Your solution might be the right solution at the right time, but you have to be really focused and passionate about making a difference for the problem you are trying to solve and be prepared to solve long term. Fintech is for life not just for Christmas. 

This is something you are going to put years of your life into so you have to bee really passionate about it because few things happen overnight.

Many are worrying about the future of fintechs. What do you think will happen to fintechs as we recover from the pandemic?

I actually think that fintech will do really well from the pandemic. It takes 21 days to form a habit. We have all been sitting in our homes for over 21 days and forming different habits as consumers like reducing cash usage, increasing digitalisation and increasing localised requirement for products as consumers. 

We want things delivered to us today and we don’t want to pay cash, we want to use mobiles more etc. – and these are things fintechs are incredibly good at delivering. I actually think what we are seeing is a short term blip but in the medium or long term. 

Consumer behaviour is constantly changing and the impact of the pandemic in the long term will save the fintechs.

Fluidly has had a lot of successful funding rounds. Any tips for startups looking for their first round?

Be really clear what your narrative is. Why are you here? Why this business at this time. Why are you solving this problem and why are you going to be successful. 

You have to be really good at articulating what you are going to do and how you are going to get there. Remember VCs are going to meet 1000s of businesses every year and only invest in ten, so they are really only going to remember three things. Think about what those are and be clear on your proposition – why you are going to be the right people to deliver the proposition and how you are going to get there?

What is your favourite personal piece of tech?

My Apple AirPod. It works beautifully and it is a very high-quality, intuitive piece of tech. It seamlessly interacts with my phone and laptop and is joyful to use.

In the next episode of leading women in fintech, rainchq CEO and founder Davinia Tomlinson speaks as an ambassador for women's financial wellbeing on the changes that fintech must now face head on to meet globals demands for diversity in all industries.

Replies (5)

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By accounts 2u ltd
27th Jul 2020 17:57

This article has a "Software Awards" popup obstructing my view of the article. Please get it removed, as otherwise I can't read the article.

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By Meltonmark
30th Jul 2020 12:02

So...is this another entitled Disney princess who preaches equality whilst demanding special favours when it suits her? Perhaps she is another of Stalin's 'useful idiots', as predicted and described by Cleon Skousen and later, by Yuri Bezmenov?

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By JensenM
30th Jul 2020 12:10

Great series, thanks!

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By FirstTab
30th Jul 2020 16:50

Agree.

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By indomitable
30th Jul 2020 12:58

I am beginning to wonder what sort of forum accountingweb is turning into

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