The elephant in the FinTech room…

It’s there, it’s big and potentially getting bigger over the next decade.  We know it’s an issue – but is it being tackled?  That elephant is the skills shortage that is beleaguering the FinTech sector.

Let’s look at a few facts.

A couple of years ago, a survey of financial organisations, by Hays Financial Markets, revealed that 61% of employers said they had faced a ‘moderate to extreme’ skills shortage during 2017.

Fast forward to 2030, the number of UK FinTech companies will double, and their staff needs will exceed 100,000 employees.  That’s according to research by Innovative Finance.

The report highlights concern that uncertainty and change in the country’s immigration policies could really hinder growth.  The report’s authors forecast a 3% gap of 3,200 skilled workers by 2030.  Maybe that figure doesn’t sound too drastic – until you learn that the resulting direct loss for the sector is £361 million.

Ours is a sector that is heavily impacted by immigration policy. We have quadruple the number of overseas workers in the industry compared to the general UK workforce according to the Office for National Statistics.  And of course, what the future policy may be is very uncertain at the moment.

So what’s to be done?

At a strategic level, we need the Government to understand and recognise the impact of immigration policy on the FinTech sector. It is making some of the right noises. Published last year, the strategy to support the FinTech sector examines how the needs of the sector can be met.  The document states “The government is also engaging closely with Fintech firms to discuss how we continue to attract the best international talent, including what they are looking for from a future immigration system.”

Call me a cynic, but I don’t think we can leave it all up to the government.

Involving academia is another strategic route.  There’s a great example north of the border that demonstrates this.  Scotland’s dynamic FinTech sector is supported by FinTech degrees offered through top Scottish universities.  As well as developing talented young people, they are also creating industry links.  Forty two universities supported the Fintech Fellowship, with an £8k award for post-grad students who go on to develop a FinTech career.

This is a fantastic initiative and needs to be replicated, but it’s a medium-term solution.

So what can you do right now?

As a FinTech business, you’ll need to be more proactive than ever, and make use of all outbound channels of engagement to identify the high calibre talent you need.

FinTech top talent brings a unique blend of both financial services and information technology skills. A key area to look for in CVs are people who have combined these skills to solve business challenges.  

Use the interview to examine their approach in more detail.  And depending on the nature of the role, of course, you’ll also need someone with the right functional skills. 

Open your minds to candidates from differing career paths.  Their experience working for a start-up or as a freelancer may be something you can build upon.

And don’t forget soft skills.  Problem-solving, customer service, communication skills are all essential for a successful FinTech career.

Pick your partner carefully

Because of the specialist nature of FinTech recruitment, many organisations choose to work with a specialist recruiter.   Look for one that is continually developing their talent pool and building relationships across the industry.  And one that uses a variety of methods to ensure they reach every possible potential candidate with the relevant experience.

It’s an approach we take at Callum James, and the result is fast and efficient access to candidates with niche and in-demand skills.

In our experience clients want only the highest calibre candidates, and every hire is weighed up as a key investment decision.  This puts a demand on the recruitment and selection process to be robust and ensure a perfect match. 

What’s your experience of filling FinTech positions?  Have you struggled to find the right calibre of person? What tactic has worked best for you?  We’d love to hear your views.

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