10 reasons fintechs struggle to hire top talent

We work in one of the world’s largest financial services sector. And whilst fintech companies are having huge successes in securing billions in funding to grow their businesses, recruiting the right talent to scale up their companies and become market leaders is quite another matter.

Countless surveys show that recruiting the right people continues to be one of the biggest challenges we face.

Skills in software engineering, system architecture and development are the most sought after. And they are also the hardest to recruit. The decline in overseas graduates with the skills we need coming to the UK only exasperates the matter.

So what can be done?

Against a backdrop of an overall skills shortage, I have identified ten more reasons why recruiting is hard. Address these, and you will put yourself in the best position to attract that pool of skilled candidates that is available and make sure that once recruited, you hang on to them.

1. Your technology stack sucks

Technology tools evolve at breakneck speed. In a modern fintech environment, you need to equip your people with a modern stack, ideally including a combination of programming languages, frameworks, and tools that support them in every aspect of their job. Get your stack right, and you can drive productivity and speed development. Get it wrong, and your people will leave.

2. Your gender/diversity balance is wrong

Fintech may be forward-thinking, but we are not great at diversity. 80% of executives are men, and in 2018 just 3% of the investment into UK fintechs went to organisations with a woman at the helm. And whilst boards are reportedly keen to improve ethnic diversity, FinTech Times reports there’s been little progress. According to FinTech Futures, expect to see CVs disappear, and gamification accelerate as a recruitment tool that removes bias. In the meantime, you need to address the issue with your recruitment practices.

3. Your employer brand is shot

Your employer brand is about promoting your company as the employer of choice to those top talents. It’s something you should treat as a priority because studies show that companies with a positive employer brand get twice the applications of others, with a much lower cost per hire. So, get focused on your brand, and make sure it effectively reflects your attributes as an employer.

4. You haven’t defined your company culture

According to Steve O’Hanlon, who was Fintech Person of the Year a little while back, “attitude and cultural fit are everything”. But if you want a cultural fit, you need to define your culture first. It doesn’t happen by accident; you need to decide the culture for your organisation and then drive it through everything you do. Want to be innovative? Then you have to embrace failure. People-focused? Home/work balance is crucial. Measure your team’s views regularly, with staff surveys and exit interviews. And be sure your recruitment partner understands your culture before the hiring process begins.

5. You’ve neglected staff development

Millennials are the largest group of people that have the fintech skills you need. 87% of them say career growth and development is important to them. Because fintech is a young industry, the need to move seamlessly between roles, picking up new knowledge and skills is vital. Learning and career development should be a top priority. Your aim is to have employees that your competitors want to headhunt – but are unsuccessful because of the environment you create.

6. You’re using poor recruitment processes

Outdated recruitment processes aren’t right for fintech. It’s a new and rapidly growing sector, and salaries and benefits are very competitive. You can’t succeed by simply putting an advert in the trade press, and traditional recruitment partners may not be up to the task. You also need to consider your interview processes – long, drawn-out procedures will mean your candidate has gone elsewhere while you make your mind up. Partner with a specialist fintech recruitment consultancy to maximise your chances of attracting the top talent.

7. You’ve got the compensation wrong

We all know the saying ‘you get what you pay for.’ This is certainly true in fintech. And it’s still a candidate’s market. So if you are looking to attract the best talent, you need to offer a package ahead of the market – and importantly, have the flexibility to go above that if justified.

8. You’re too rigid in your working practices

As mentioned in point 5, millennials make up a large percentage of the tech talent that fintech needs. They want control over their working hours. Remote working and flexible practices are essential, as three-quarters of them reportedly feel that flexible working makes a job much more attractive. Nine to five in the office just won’t cut it.

9. You don’t have a passive candidate strategy

Sometimes you have to create opportunities by going out to a wider base. Approaching ideal candidates who are not looking to change jobs can be a good way to source candidates if you can create an engaging offer. And if you pull it off, passive candidates are shown to be very committed to making an impact in their new roles. How do you find them? Asking for referrals and networking are two tactics, as is using LinkedIn. Even keeping an eye on the trade press to see who is being quoted and featured regularly can be a good source. 

10. You’re limiting your search

London has the highest density of financial and professional services organisations in the world. It means that competition for the top talent is fierce. Limit your search to someone within commuting distance of your office, and you are handicapping yourself from the start. Many fintech roles can be performed remotely, meaning the whole country – or indeed the whole world – is your oyster. If you do need someone onsite, recruiting from overseas doesn’t have to be difficult. The UK government’s Tier I Exceptional Talent visa is a scheme that simplifies the process of obtaining a visa to work in the UK within digital technology.  

I know there’s a lot to take in within this blog. One way to address all these issues is to partner with a recruiter that understands the market and how to find you the candidates you need. If you’d like to discuss further you know where I am.

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