First Tuesday is a well-known international entrepreneur’s association, who’s history stretches all the way back to the first dotcom boom. I’ve heard that in those days, it was a feeding frenzy for entrepreneurs looking for funding from investors, during the days of madcap valuations. That actually doesn’t sound too far from much of today’s startup nonsense, but First Tuesday is now a very sensible place. I’ve been to a few of their events, which are typically evening lectures with pretty notable speakers and mid-sized, well-informed audiences. Today’s event was no exception.

Titled “What’s Next For Europe’s Fintech Industry?”, it brought together a range of speakers from different corners of the market, to discuss opportunities and strategies.

Level39 is a FinTech-specialised incubator in the prestigious Canary Wharf building. I’ve been there on several occasions. It suffers from the painfully fashionable interior design trend that involves the removal of vital parts of the building’s fabric – most notably the acoustic ceilings. However, it is nevertheless unquestionably the best place for UK FinTech firms to grow. Eric van der Kleij, former head of TechCity, represented Level39, and also served as the able moderator for the panel discussion.

Holvi is perhaps best described as a challenger bank for a very specific client group, namely 3rd sector organisations. It’s providing the same functionality as a normal bank, whilst not needing the full regulatory and functionality of a conventional clearing bank. Tuomas Toivonen, CEO and Co-Founder, represented the brand.

Anthemis group have invested in some of the biggest and most familiar names in FinTech. Nadeem Shaikh, their founder, turned out to represent them to the industry. I have to say he was a difficult speaker to follow, and found the group’s website a necessary fallback for the talk. With a little digital help, I nevertheless left more informed than I arrived!

For me, the best talk was by Giles Andrews, CEO and Co-Founder of Zopa.com. Strangely, he spoke little about his own firm, or about FinTech. He spoke instead about disruption, using the example of KwikFit to communicate the passion he has for fixing customer service and bad business models. It was a great talk, and one which will stay with me for a long time.

Whether the event lived up to its billing is a matter of judgement. I think it’s risky to have a grandiose title, because it always leaves those disappointed who come expecting neat, shrink-wrapped answers to very tricky questions. Nevertheless, the speakers stayed generally on-topic, and certainly gave good business insights and advice. The educated and engaged audience was certainly pitched at a level appropriate to accept the nuances of what can realistically be provided in such a talk, and they were clearly able to make use of the content provided by some pretty big-hitting speakers.

It was a relatively inexpensive event, with good speakers and some good networking opportunities. Catering was not provided, which suggested to me that they could have done a little more work on the sponsors – just ponied up for a buffet from the entrance fee. With no nibbles to keep people around, the crowd drifted off fairly soon afterwards.

My only other significant gripe was with the audio. A combination of some heavy accents and perhaps a suboptimal set up made certain speakers genuinely difficult to understand. I’m personally pretty prone to zoning out if I struggle to hear, and on occasion I definitely lost the thread.

Nevertheless, this was a good quality event. If the speakers are relevant to you, I would certainly recommend looking at First Tuesday events in future. However, remember that it’s not a spectacularly-produced TED event, and the content, whilst informative, might leave pose more questions than it answers.