Financial Technology (FinTech), has been a significant area for R&D Tax Credit claims since the start of the relief back in the year 2000. The reason why FinTech projects are often considered R&D is that they frequently have stringent technical requirements, not least around security. Where these cannot be solved by off the shelf solutions (owing to factors such as the combinations of legacy systems and other restrictions) R&D is often required.
FinTech systems often need to adhere to extremely high-performance requirements (low latency and high scalability). The appreciable improvement of a system, to increase these types of Technological metric is often qualifying, provided that the work undertaken is not a standard/routine one (e.g. provisioning more hardware resource or following a standard process to uplift the performance).
Most FinTech systems also have a long list of functional requirements (e.g. support for a particular type of exotic derivative). Such 'functional' requirements would not qualify as a 'Technological Advance' in its own right (as HMRC would view it as functional, rather than Technological). However, if creating the new functionality required the development of new high-performance algorithms (or a similar development of 'new' Technology - rather than using Technology), then this would bring the project into the realms of becoming research and development for tax purposes.
There are often numerous forms of Technological Uncertainty in achieving the types of FinTech Advances above, which makes FinTech an area that is ripe for R&D Tax Credits.
Owing to the nature of systems typically developed within the FinTech sector, we find that the competent professionals often know that it would in some way be possible to achieve the Advance, but the Uncertainty concerns producing the Advance in practice. That is how to modify the underlying algorithms and data structures to develop a secure but high-performance solution.
As with software development in general, time spent analysing requirements for FinTech projects would typically be excluded from an R&D Tax Credits claim. You can include time spent architecting, developing, testing and project managing the build of the Technology - so long as they were required to overcome Technology Uncertainty.