One of the most talked about sectors in the UK, Richard Brown of Stockport-based Sales and IT recruitment consultancy, Grassroots Recruitment, shares his observations of current climate and hot topics in the FinTech industry.
My last post on the latest trends in RegTech has sparked a lot of conversation with my clients in the sector. They had a lot of questions about the major areas of growth in FinTech, and the recruitment implications, so I thought I’d share some of the most common questions and talking points that have come up.
Where are FinTech businesses most struggling to recruit? What skills are in short supply?
According to a report by Innovate Finance for the Department of International Trade (DIT), over 60% of FinTech businesses rank attracting talent as their biggest challenge (above consumer adoption at 49% and investment and funding at 34%). So far, roles that are going unfilled the longest are in software engineering, systems architecture and development.
Right now however, the key areas of demand are for data analysts, compliance specialists, and senior sales executives with the sector specific knowledge to take customers on the journey to the cloud and deliver complex software migrations – presales, professional services and implementation consultants.
Looking ahead, the DIT’s report suggests that emerging roles will account for 29% of the FinTech workforce by 2022. Three key technologies are likely to be in high demand in the sector: blockchain and digital ledger, driven by cryptocurrencies and securing transactions; the Internet of Things, covering everything from real-time insights, asset monitoring and inventory tracking as well as customer experience; and AI which is set to disrupt fields like risk management and portfolio planning. According to Avaloq’s recent white paper, the emergence of AI could be the biggest disruption the business world has seen.
And what about cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is an area of skills shortage in the whole IT sector, but it’s particularly crucial in FinTech. Cybercrime has been increasing year-on-year, and attacks on the finance sector are becoming more sophisticated and organised. The Payments Barometer Report produced by Bottomline Technologies, showed us the average loss of fraud for organisations in Great Britain was around £240,000, with 1 in 5 enterprises even losing more than £1 million.
The reaction across the FinTech and RegTech sectors is a mix of over-recruiting and salary inflation for roles where expertise, sector knowledge and technical skills are paramount. For other types of hire, more creative approaches are being tested.
While start-ups and rapidly growing businesses don’t have the budget or time to invest in training and will rely on headhunting experienced staff, larger organisations are focusing on finding new and existing staff with the optimum soft skills and investing in upskilling them in new technologies.
Soft skills are climbing ever higher up the hiring manager’s checklist. Applicants need to be able collaborate across multiple teams and have a tendency towards innovation and finding solutions to complex problems. And with the industry changing so quickly, adaptability to respond to those rapidly evolving technologies, regulations and consumer behaviours is essential at all levels in FinTech.
So with key skills in short supply, does our UK office need to be in London?
The UK is arguably the leading global FinTech hub. Our financial services industry has long led in innovation and is continuing to set the global standard on the application of technology in the sector.
While the FinTech industry is focused on London, there is a thriving ecosystem and international talent pool spanning the length and of breadth the country. The most notable regional centres are Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Belfast, which have both the finance credentials and budding tech scenes. The reality is that location is largely irrelevant – Starling Bank have opened an office in Southampton, Monzo in Cardiff, and Atom Bank is headquartered in Durham.
Unless you’re specifically looking to headhunt from a direct competitor, there may even be advantages of picking somewhere new where you aren’t sharing your talent pool. Most tech recruits prefer to be home-based at least part of the time, and your senior salespeople will be happy to travel.
What is the impact of Brexit on FinTech recruitment?
That’s too big a topic to cover in brief! I’m open to longer conversations on this so please feel free to share your comments . But from a recruitment perspective, it goes without saying that a restrictive post-Brexit immigration system could be a big threat to growth in a sector where 1 in 4 workers are not UK citizens.