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Sustainable Finance and Fintech Talent Are Key Talking Points Following Singapore Fintech Festival

Accenture has announced the launch of two key industry reports, on the back of the Singapore FinTech Festival 2021 that took place in November: ‘Driven Forward: APAC’s Tech-first Road To Sustainable Finance’ and the SFA-Accenture Fintech Talent Report 2021.


Driven by pressure from stakeholders and incentives from regulators, sustainable finance is gaining traction across the Asia Pacific region. This report touches on the sustainable finance landscape across APAC — the state of green finance and ESG adoption across the region, challenges and opportunities as APAC charts its green growth, and the role of technology in accelerating this change.

Findings indicate that 79% of APAC organisations are already working to implement sustainable finance initiatives, and nearly half have designated it as the top strategic priority for their organisation. Other key takeaways from the report include:

Key Drivers of Change

Supply Chain Remains a Top Priority

  • Supply chain sustainability issues and greenhouse gas emissions rank among the top-most priorities for APAC banks and insurers. To address the former, firms are increasing their investments in related products, technology, relevant digital tools and solutions, as well as improving data collection and reporting. Where emissions are concerned, banks are adopting a policy-first approach, tightening internal processes in addition to investing in related products and technology.

Short Term Costs Hindering Progress

  • Despite the clear business benefits of pursuing ESG initiatives, short-term costs are hindering progress — with 61% of APAC respondents citing the potential loss of business and revenue due to ESG screening as challenging.

Other major challenges to the adoption of sustainable finance include a lack of clear understanding of current local and global regulations, lack of executive alignment on sustainability, lack of solid business cases and lack of data, resources, requisite infrastructure, and executive commitment.


Developed in partnership with the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA), the report reveals a rapid growth in demand for FinTech talent, particularly for those with technological skills and capabilities. This rise has also been driven largely by Singapore’s conducive business and regulatory environment and the financial sector’s rapid pivot to digital, which was further accelerated by the pandemic. Following this, companies are now facing various opportunities and challenges in talent attraction, development, retention, and engagement.

This year’s report focuses on the necessary considerations for building a sustainable and future-ready FinTech workforce, with the following key findings:

Talent Demand Outstrips Supply

  • The demand for FinTech talent continues to outpace local supply — expectations of higher pay (69%), difficulty in obtaining work permits (64%) and candidates lacking entrepreneurial spirit (60%) are the key drivers of the talent gap in Singapore.

Attraction and recruitment

  • Survey results reveal that half of the respondents have cited career development and enhancement (50%) as the main reason to join a FinTech company, followed by the quality of senior leadership, direct supervisors and team members (20%).

Talent Development

  • Learning and development efforts tend to focus on building technical skills like Development and Implementation, Business Development, and Sales And Marketing; while the top behavioural skills being developed are Problem Solving and Creative Thinking.
  • As such, organisations have an opportunity to significantly improve spending on learning and development per employee — 69% of survey respondents spend less than $1,000 per year, per employee on learning and development; this is less than the average L&D spend per employee, which is >$1,000 globally.

Engagement, Retention and Employee Wellbeing

  • While potential candidates look to join FinTech companies for opportunities to develop and enhance their careers, they leave for the same reasons, indicating that they may not be getting the continued growth desired. Reasons for leaving include better opportunities (36%) and better rewards (31%).
  • More can also be done to address employee wellbeing — only 64% provide parental leave, 44% provide insurance, 12% provide tuition reimbursements and 11% provide gym/fitness discounts.

In order to address these challenges, the report recommends adopting a 5C’s framework, which outlines clear strategies for recruitment and talent development, including learning, performance management and succession planning, as well as employee engagement and rewards.


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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