Fintechs will struggle to grow if they fail to recruit and retain the right tech talent yet competition for talent has never been fiercer. Can prioritising financial education help solve talent issues and ensure future industry success?
The fintech industry is one of the fastest growing sectors post-pandemic, outperforming the wider market by three times, according to recruitment firm Robert Walters.
Its latest Global Fintech Talent Report reveals that the global fintech sector has seen a 182 per cent increase in tech job growth for the first quarter of 2022 – with the top eight fintech ‘mega-hubs’ accounting for more than 90 per cent of all new fintech jobs advertised around the globe. Economic resurgence and appetite for growth has piled on the recruitment demand.
With one in three new hires within fintechs around the globe going to software engineers and developers, Robert Walters warns that the fintech sector will face major hurdles this year due to an acute tech talent shortage around the globe.
Toby Fowlston, CEO of Robert Walters, says: “The forecast for organisations working in the global fintech market is a very positive one, however, their growth will be dependent on their ability to recruit and retain the right tech talent. No country quite has a dominance over technology and given the remote and mobile nature of the tech industry it seems that all major economies are competing for a slice of the fintech pie.
“While the outcome of competition means heightened innovation and consumer choice, from a talent perspective this creates a challenge and as the adoption of fintech products continues to grow at an exceptional rate the concern is whether there is enough of the right tech talent to keep up with the growth.”
In addition, Scottish recruitment firm Core-Asset Consulting also recently revealed that organisations are fighting over the same limited talent pool with startups missing out on the crucial talent they need to scale and attract new investment.
So what can be done to ensure victory in the tug-of-war for talent? According to industry experts, educational changes and better funding are essential ingredients for ensuring the UK stays competitive in the fintech ‘race to the top’.
Speaking at a fireside chat on fintech innovation at the recent Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) at London’s Guildhall, Sarah Williams-Gardener, CEO at independent membership association FinTech Wales, said: “We need the right skills and talent. We have phenomenal universities, phenomenal colleges and phenomenal capabilities but we have to ensure we have the right funding.
“I have two children and if they had not had a mother who is a fintech founder they wouldn’t know about fintech and nor would their friends; they would still be going into traditional industries. There is huge responsibility on us to talk about what this industry is about.
“In Wales, we are taking the industry to students as these are the skills and talent of the future. We’ve got coding academies and businesses going into school telling them what they are they doing and why. It’s important if we are going to stay at the beginning of the fintech race.”
Fellow panellist, Jeff Parker, CEO at business payments firm WorldFirst, echoed this view. He said: “There is a chronic talent shortage in the UK because fundamentally the education system is broken and hasn’t changed for decades; it’s old school. We really need to learn to embed coding, engineering, science and technology into the DNA of our country from an early age. Until we fix that pipeline, it’s going to be really difficult and more and more challenging for the UK.”
Sustainable funding for financial education
Research undertaken by the Money and Pensions Service has shown that attitudes towards money are formed as young as seven, proving that financial education provided at a young age is vital for future financial capability.
Earlier this week, charity The Centre for Financial Capability went to Downing Street to call for better funding for high-quality and effective financial education. It presented a letter signed by companies in the financial education and services industry, including GoHenry, Hargreaves Lansdown and Quilter, urging for a substantial proportion of unclaimed money from dormant accounts (through the Government’s Dormant Assets scheme) to be used to fund financial education for primary aged children.
This letter followed The Financial Education Summit, sponsored by John Penrose MP and supported by the Centre for Financial Capability, which called for increased attention to the importance of implementing financial education in primary schools, to meet the larger goal of increasing financial resilience throughout adulthood.
Stewart Perry, a member of The Centre for Financial Capability and head of responsible business at Quilter, said: “I very much recognise the importance of ensuring sustainable funding for financial education and believe the Dormant Assets Scheme is a common sense way for industry to work with Government to ensure every child in the UK has access to the necessary financial skills to equip them for later life.”
Recent education initiatives
In March, FinTech Wales, Cardiff Council’s Cardiff Commitment and Invest in Cardiff officially launched The DebateMate Schools Programme; a 12-week programme designed to develop pupils’ oratory skills and awareness of the fintech sector in a series of debating contests culminating in a grand final later this year.
While at the end of last year, Deloitte hooked up with Innovate Finance to launch an app and educational programme for pupils in Scotland. The app gives students access to information that will help them to better manage their own personal finances whilst developing their understanding of financial inclusion, banking, mobile payments, and cryptocurrency.