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UK FinTech firms gear up for talent tug of war

The race for talent heats up as FinTechs compete with Financial Services and Technology firms for the talent to fuel growth

A shortage of technology and finance skills could hamper the growth of the UK FinTech sector, according to new research being launched by Experis today.

Industry Insiders: The rise of FinTech and the fight for talent examines which skills are most in demand among FinTechs, the threat to supply posed by established technology and financial services (FS) players, and where FinTech firms will need to focus efforts to safeguard their talent pipelines and futures.

With a record-breaking $2.9 billion invested into UK FinTech in the first half of 2019, its talent requirements are growing. In the past two years alone, the proportion of FinTech vacancies for IT professionals has increased by almost two-thirds. In the three months ending September 2019, FinTech vacancies accounted for 3.03% of all IT vacancies, versus 1.84% for the same period in 2017.

However, thanks to widespread digitalisation within the FS sector, FinTechs are having to compete for tech skills with established organisations in this space, many of whom have deep pockets. Within FS, permanent salaries attached to tech vacancies rose by over 4% this year compared to last, with notable increases for Architects, who salaries rose by 10.2% on average to £71,717.93pa, Developers (13.7% to £47,516.41pa) and Analysts (15.5% to £40,092.89pa).

Whilst in the tech sector salaries are more stable, vacancies for specific skills continue to multiply. The number of Developers required increased by almost 2% this year compared to last, whilst demand for Engineers increased over 3%.

This appears to have galvanised FS firms into game of salary one-upmanship. Last year firms in the sector offered, on average, over 9% more for a Developer and almost 5% more for an Engineer compared to their technology counterparts.

Martin Ewings, Director of Specialist Markets, Experis, comments: “Despite being built on technology, the UK FinTech sector will thrive or die based on its ability to attract human resources. Established industry players may have more visible muscle but, without many legacy issues, FinTechs are well-placed to create powerful employee propositions. To secure their future, FinTechs need to be strategic about how they attract and retain talent.”

Whilst the growing salaries offered for tech skills by FS organisations are attractive, hiring for finance roles with the sector has fallen by 18.4% over the last year, dropping quarter-on-quarter since October 2018. For individuals with this skillset, the growing FinTech sector is likely to present an attractive proposition.

Martin continues: “The winds of change are blowing in the financial services sector. In the long-term, the availability of software and widespread automation are changing the skillsets required, while in the short-term Brexit and low-interest rates are contributing to uncertainty and squeezed margins. Nonetheless, this presents a huge opportunity for FinTech firms, who, with the right mix of talent strategies, can highlight why the FinTech sector is an attractive place to work.”

As part of the report, Experis outlines the following six steps to help organisations within FinTech and feeder sectors reappraise their approach to talent:

  1. Build skills internally:Businesses must look to the talent and potential they already have within their organisation, understanding and mapping the skills rather than the roles that they need, investing in learning and development, and upskilling the existing workforce.
  2. Make it easier to acquire talent with a strong employer brand:In a competitive labour market, like FinTech, employers need to work hard to attract the best talent.
  3. Look beyond permanent to plug gaps quickly: Particularly in a fast-paced sector like FinTech, borrowing talent from the wider community of freelancers, contractors and temporary workers can help boost projects or fill critical gaps.
  4. Tapping into existing talent to bridge gaps:While FinTech businesses will grow rapidly, and create opportunities for employees themselves to grow into, employers need to be alert and move the right people into these changing and emerging roles.
  5. Look beyond London and the South East:Consistently, candidate demand is higher in these areas. Looking beyond them could provide employers with access to a richer talent pool (salaries are also consistently less).
  6. Tap into non-traditional demographics:By highlighting that it is a relatively new space, and showcasing a real commitment to creating inclusive environments, FinTech companies can build more diverse workforces.