A strong technology sector, resilient financial system, quality talent pool and low business costs put the Toronto Region on the global fintech map. Not only does the Toronto Region boast being home to the headquarters of major Canadian banks, but it also lays claim to three of the top 60 global pension funds and seven of the largest global hedge fund administrators
After New York City, Toronto is the largest financial centre in North America, hosting around 12,000 financial firms and employing over 360,000 people. It is also the 3rd largest technology hub in North America. Since 2015, the number of fintechs in Canada has skyrocketed from 40 to over 250 and counting. These fintechs operate in multiple sectors including payments, financing, robo-advising, crowdfunding and blockchain.
The financial sector in Canada is expected to allocate $15 billion in technology spending in 2018. So, no wonder that between 2012 and 2016, the venture capital community invested over $1 billion in fintechs here. Some of the biggest fintechs making waves in Toronto include WealthSimple, League, NestWealth and Sensibill.
From a talent perspective, the Toronto Region is a compelling location for fintechs. Ontario, which is the province Toronto resides in, is home to over 30,000 of the country’s approximately 60,000 fintech employees and offers one of the most highly educated workforces in the world. Ontario turns out 40,000 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students a year – with plans in the pipeline to increase this number by 25% in the next five years. The Toronto Region draws graduates from the entire province in addition to the graduates from the five universities and six colleges in the region. What makes the talent even more attractive for businesses is that the average salaries for engineering, management, and software development talent are 17-33% lower here when compared to major cities in the United States.
So, many European companies have already got the message: the Toronto region is a great place to grow your fintech. UK-based Ebury recently opened an office in Toronto and plans on servicing the large SME community in Canada with its financial solutions. Sweden-based Bambora has opened a Toronto office to be more accessible to its customers. Misys merged with Toronto based D+H to create Finastra, the third largest financial services technology company in the world and its CEO of Finastra, Nadeem Syed, plans to expand the existing capability in Canada by taking advantage of the depth of talent available in the Toronto Region.
From a regulatory perspective, things are looking much rosier. The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has created a Fintech Advisory Committee to advise staff on developments in the fintech sector. It created the Launchpad – essentially a sandbox for fintechs to test their products under supervision of the provincial regulator. Moreover, the OSC has signed co-operation agreements with the FCA and Australia’s ASIC - an indication of willingness to operate at a global level. Ontario is striving to create an innovative ecosystem for fintechs to thrive in. The Ontario Fintech Accelerator office will be launched soon to promote innovation in the fintech space – one of its responsibilities will be to help start-ups get established.
With the continuous uncertainty surrounding Brexit, protectionist policies in the US, and the positive note struck by the trade agreement between Canada and the EU (CETA), fintechs in the EU and UK would do well to consider expanding to the Toronto Region – home to a consistently stable political and economic climate.
Not only does the region offer the opportunity to establish your business in Canada, but it also doubles as a springboard to enter the US and Mexico markets. Businesses can take advantage of the Eastern Time Zone to service North American clients and easily access cities throughout the Americas from Toronto’s two international airports - The Toronto Island Airport in downtown Toronto connects to destinations in the United States daily and you can be in New York, Boston, Washington or Chicago in two hours and even pre-clear customs in Canada. Meanwhile, Toronto Pearson International Airport Pearson connects traveler - 44.3 million of them - to 67% of the world’s economies through daily, non-stop flights.
You could say the fintech sector in Toronto is cleared and ready for takeoff!
Salman Khan is a Senior Advisor on the Investment Attraction team at Toronto Global. With a technology background backed by a recent MBA, Salman has developed a keen interest in emerging technology companies dabbling in fintech, blockchain and artificial intelligence.
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