LAB FELLOWSHIP: Meet The Fellows #1

When we launched the Finance Innovation Lab Fellowship in March, we introduced the 16 innovators joining the Lab community as our 2016 Lab Fellows. We announced their names and the projects they were working on, but now it’s your chance to get to know them better.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be interviewing the Fellows participating in this unique incubation programme and share how they hope to disrupt the financial system.

Say hello to Neil Chandler and his project Cathartic

Neil Chandler

I’ve had my career in the city, now I’m a techie trying to do good in the world.

I have no real qualifications. All of my tech knowledge is self taught, but I was able to work my way up through the ranks to work on global financial products, like building JP Morgan’s SuperComputer running quantitative finance. Technically I have worked on many projects that were “the first time” or “the biggest” but they weren’t fulfilling.

One day I had the idea, wouldn’t it be amazing if anyone could say anything?

What is Cathartic?

An anonymous platform where anyone can share anything. We want people to talk about their issues before it consumes them. To date we have had some amazing results, people have shared issues covering, mental health, addiction, abuse and grieving.

We soon realised there are other applications for the technology developed, one being whistleblowing for the finance sector. By enabling employees to communicate with complete anonymity through Cathartic, real issues can be brought to the forefront and organisations can better support their workforce.

Why did you apply to be a Lab Fellow?

Camaraderie. I was looking to join a group within the financial industry who are making a change for the good. The Finance Innovation Lab is the perfect fit.

How can the Lab community help you?

I am currently in the process of raising funds and need to form a team, please get in touch if you can help take Cathartic to the next level.

If you could tell everyone in the world one thing, what would it be?

We all need to talk more.

Say hello to Olivia Seddon-Daines who is mapping the Financial System

Olivia Seddon-Daines

I struggled to get through school and university. I was extremely ill first with CFS/ME then a debilitating and unrelenting form of anxiety. After a number of personal and professional false starts, I am beyond excited and relieved to be able to concentrate on my work and desperately fond of the people who believed I would eventually get here.

What do you want to change about the finance system?

Transparency and accountability.

The idea for my project is to conduct a systemic analysis of carbon risk, to interrogate the links between ‘finance’ and the real economy and, in doing so, ‘map’ the financial system.

I suspect people will think the project is too ambitious, or that Mark Carney or someone more senior would be better positioned to pose such questions. I don’t disagree but think devoting my time and energy to this project is worthwhile even if the outcome proves modest.

Why did you apply for the Lab Fellowship?

The Lab’s focus on systemic change, the structured support offered, and the inspiring individuals involved all encouraged me to apply. Hopefully, the Lab community will be a safe haven in which to explore ideas, take risks and receive constructive criticism.

What do you hope to gain from the Lab Fellowship?


Say hello to Simon Rowell who is creating a social pensions industry

Simon Rowell

I’m an Australian former lawyer, current social investor, with a passion for inclusive finance.

I’ve been on a journey from advising financial institutions about acquisitions as a corporate lawyer to delivering strategy as a social investor. It’s shown me how much power finance has over people, societies and countries, and how innovation can provide a useful alternative.

What is the aim of your project?

Revolution. I want to demonstrate that pensions aren’t dull investment products that we throw the letters straight into the bin for, but opportunities for us to choose how we invest and make a difference with our money.

We’ll create a way for people to actively choose how they use their pension investments for good causes. The first step is demonstrating how pilot social pension funds can be established, how they work and how they can be the pillars of a new social pensions industry.

What makes you memorable?

My unbridled optimism about people and the world.

Why did you apply to be a Lab Fellow?

To learn from a community of innovators about what the financial world could become, and help guide me on ways of changing it.

Tell us one thing no one would know about you.

My first job was as an opera singer!

Click here to read about the rest of the 2016 Finance Innovation Lab Fellows.