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Brexit and a tech talent shortage means firms have to be more competitive

By Nikhil Sengupta, UK FinTech specialist, Five Degrees

Despite the huge potential of FinTech, access to and retention of best-in-class talent is a growing concern within the industry on a global basis, and the greatest of these skill shortages is occurring within the technical talent sector.

The global FinTech skills shortage means that it is even more crucial for employers to understand what motivates their workforce if they are to attract, develop, and retain talent. At the same time, hiring and integrating new talent into an organisation costs organisations time and resource.  

The impact of Brexit

brexit and fintech articleFor the UK, a recent report by Innovate Finance and WPI Economics, entitled ‘Supporting UK FinTech: Accessing a Global Talent Pool’, predicts that by 2030 there will be around 3,300 FinTech firms, with a shortfall of 3,200 workers needed to support them.   

Brexit will intensify this shortfall, making it difficult for financial services companies to retain and attract tech talent from the EU in the future.  A major issue is the potential loss in European workers that businesses will incur following the exit.

The CityUK 2019 report, ‘Fuelling FinTech: attracting the UK’s future tech talent into financial services,’ highlights these challenges over the next three to five years: including a limited pool of tech talent, drained further by a reduction in the flow of EU tech graduates into the UK.

How to respond to the talent shortfall

First and foremost, FinTechs will need to concentrate efforts on making themselves look appealing to potential European candidates. In today’s employment landscape, packages, perks, and flexible working practices are highly competitive from company to company, so it’s essential that they make themselves stand out from the crowd.

Secondly, candidate screening, conducting interviews, negotiating employment terms, and on-boarding a new hire for a role can take a long time – so it’s important that employers get this right first time. We’ll see a re-focussing of FinTech recruitment practices, identifying individuals with a passion for technology and technical roles.

The CityUK report, supported by the HM Treasury and Santander, has also provided a number of recommendations for the finance sector and its engagement with future employees in a post-Brexit world.

Greater leadership on up-skilling the current workforce

The changes in technology and customer expectations will have a profound effect on those already working within financial services. Individual organisations are struggling with how best to undertake the reskilling of their workforces.

The task of reskilling large numbers of people will require the government and industry to work together to facilitate the re-training of existing workforces over the coming years in emerging skills which will come to dominate the workplace.

Incubators and accelerators  

Incubator programs and seed accelerators are helping the start-up and scale up businesses to accelerate ventures by providing incubation services, with a focus on education and mentoring.

The development of online education programmes for FinTech related skills for adult learners and university students, and bespoke curriculums for primary and high schools is helping to hone FinTech technical skills for the future.

FinTech companies are also utilising event networks across Europe to promote their companies to students and professionals. Through co-hosting, sponsoring, and attending events that celebrate the industry, businesses will be able to sound out future employee prospects.

Governmental interventions

UK government policy makers and regulatory bodies are engaged with work to reduce the time taken for hiring best-in-class talent. These bodies play a vital role in incentivising FinTechs and helping businesses to overcome regulatory hurdles to access talent. Through these institutions, a range of programmes and services can help to make it easier for FinTech businesses to get off the ground quickly.

Educational interventions

Talent is key to the continued growth of the FinTech sector. The report reveals the need to create a pipeline of graduate talent, encouraging FinTech businesses to embrace collaborations with educational institutions, as a way of fostering learning and building awareness among the next generation of FinTech talent.

Many universities are promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs for students and bespoke FinTech education for adult learning.   

By working hand-in-hand with European educational institutions and initiatives to channel enthusiasm and learning for financial technology, UK FinTechs will establish a platform to attract future employees who are passionate about the industry and form alliances with Europe for recruiting workers.

Examples of involvement has included establishing a presence in schools and university career fairs, hosting talks, lectures and interactive workshops for students, and providing placements for internships and apprenticeship schemes.

A company cross-cultural innovation

If companies have a culture that supports cross-cultural innovation, it will help to attract highly talented, curious, motivated, and innovative people.

At the same time, up-skilling current workforces to develop technical skills through appropriate training programmes, will equip employees with new capabilities to help drive efficiencies and improve productivity across the business. This will future-proof FinTechs for bringing in the right people who are invested for long-term success.

Through appropriate training programmes and up-skilling, companies can provision for the next generation of the FinTech workforce.

Light at the end of the tunnel

It’s important to note that it is not all doom and gloom for UK FinTech in a post-Brexit landscape. The industry will continue to thrive and set the agenda, thanks to the nation’s position as a world leading hub.

FinTech requires an ecosystem to operate within and London has a mature, liquid capital market, supported by a strong regulator and judiciary, as well as unmatched access to specialist accounting and legal professionals.

Whether there is a deal or no deal, the UK is a leader in influence on global regulation and has set the foundations for much of FinTech growth. The UK is a key member of the Financial Action Task Force and the Global Financial Innovation Network, and continues to set the regulatory agenda within the international sandbox.

The UK is set to become the biggest economy in Europe and whether inside or outside the EU, the investing potential remains huge.  London will still remain a major FinTech hub of the world, and will remain attractive to employees. The UK may no longer be ‘European’ on paper, but it will remain a global entity of leading FinTech industry and talent in the generations to come.

Biography: Nikhil Sengupta, UK FinTech specialist, Five Degrees

With over 6 years’ experience within Financial Services, FinTech and Regulation, Nikhil Sengupta is UK banking specialist and sales manager at Five Degrees London office, a fast-growing digital banking technology provider headquartered in The Netherlands, with offices in London, Germany, Iceland, Portugal and Serbia.

Previously, Nikhil was at Ohpen responsible for business development and sales, following on from a position as the Head of UK Compliance where he helped build out the compliance function and achieved authorisation for the company from the FCA. 

Prior to this, Nikhil started his career at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as Lead Supervisor assessing emerging and current conduct risks amongst Asset Managers. During his time at the FCA, Nikhil participated in a 6 month industry placement at JP Morgan working closely with its management team responsible for asset management, and the navigation of regulatory challenges.

Nikhil’s specialisms include relationship and people management, business development and sales, regulation, public speaking and presenting.

Nikhil holds a first-class honours degree in Economics from the University of York.

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