As fintech evolves globally and sets more sophisticated requirements for tech skills, many businesses lag due to lack of talent and resources to bring their innovative ideas to life. In part, the fintech talent gap is justified and even self-explanatory: the industry is relatively new and has to nurture new talent to meet its challenges. The number of people proficient in both finance and technologies is still dramatically low; needless to say, they are in high demand and command high salaries.
Headhunters are on the prowl for fintech software developers. Today, the most sought-after fintech skills are:
- ML, AI, and Deep Learning;
- Soft skills such as communication, creativity, flexibility, and high EQ.
There are lots of fintech vacancies waiting to be filled, but people have to grow into the new roles. In the UK, data analysts, designers, and ML experts currently account for only 15% of the financial sector workforce, according to the World Economic Forum. While their percentage is expected to reach 29% by 2022, the supply is still less than the market demand.
Yet, there’re ways to grow the next gen of talent to meet a new fintech realm.
Ways to grow and nurture fintech developer skills
Across the world, businesses are seeking ways to bridge the fintech skills gap. In countries like South Korea and Israel, there are government-sponsored initiatives aimed at fostering local tech talent. Singapore is the most prominent example of how local governments can propel fintech education: in 2018, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has set up a plan to invest around US$167 million over five years into fintech education programs.
Apart from relying on government officials to acknowledge the strategic importance of nurturing fintech specialists, there’re several things businesses can do. Some of the best practices include:
Collaborations between universities and fintech labs/R&D
Growing fintech talent involves pinpointing prospective fintech software development specialists while they are still young and full of energy – ideally, at a university or college. But mere initiative on the part of fintech labs isn’t enough. These promising young specialists should be interested in fintech as an industry and envision their careers in fintech development. Surely, to become interested and then involved in the fintech industry, they should have a clear picture of what fintech is, and be aware of current opportunities.
Here’s when collaboration with Universities and educational institutions can become an asset. For example, in the UK, fintech platform GoCardless has partnered with Imperial College London’s Computing Society DocSoc. The partnership involves giving talks or sponsoring society events: anything that raises awareness of fintech opportunities presents the company in the positive light and enhances the visibility of fintech as an industry.
This strategy makes a lot of sense, as students are more likely to apply for a job with a company they have met at events or job fairs. Typically, university job fairs are overwhelmingly corporate – however, specialized technology and fintech job fairs are being held, and fintechs should attend.
Sponsoring tuition and scholarships
On top of that, fintech labs can act as scholarship sponsors and pay full or partial tuition to the smartest and talented students. For example, Spotcap Fintech Fellowship has set up an £8,000 scholarship award. Postgraduates from fintech-related fields like finance, engineering, and computer science can apply, but only one person per year can win the scholarship. This creates engagement by generating competition and stresses the industry’s high standards.
In Singapore, a leading University has partnered with one of the biggest fintech service providers to implement a fintech curriculum into the University program, creating the pool of fintech developers by teaching relevant skills to young students. Such an advanced level of cooperation surely requires building strong ties between a company and an educational establishment.
Fintech coding bootcamps and extracurricular programs
Apart from collaborating with universities, fintech labs and R&D’s can organize business-sponsored educational initiatives and training programs. Fintech coding bootcamps, for example, will focus on teaching the exact set of skills fintech companies are looking for. Focusing on the most vital aspects of fintech development, boot camp participants can instantly apply their newly-acquired skills to build fintech solutions.
Extracurricular programs usually extend through longer periods and offer a step-by-step approach to learning fintech development. On the downside, getting people to enroll to participate in these programs typically requires a range of promotional activities. Partnering with educational institutions gives instant access to broader pools of prospective fintech talent.
Finance employees re-skilling and re-training
Sometimes, fintech companies do come across a real gem — a person, equally proficient in both finance and technology. Needless to say, such occasions are infrequent: most of the time, tech employees have to be coached to get a better understanding of financial services. The practice of re-skilling and re-training finance employees to gain proficiency in a fintech stack is currently gaining momentum: within a financial services company, most people understand the impact of technology on the industry and role tech skills will play in future. The highly-competitive fintech salaries and compensation packages are also a great incentive to learn fintech software development.
Leveraging offshore talent pools
While developed nations are struggling to attract fintech talent and have yet to grow a new wave of fintech developers, leading hubs for custom software development like Ukraine are abundant in STEM and data analytics skills that can easily fit nearly any fintech dev project. That’s the reason why almost all leading fintech companies build dedicated fintech teams or leverage offshore fintech R&D.
If you need to validate your fintech product idea without making a big investment into setting up an internal lab infrastructure, the best solution would be to hire a team of fintech developers offshore, and verify proof-of-concept through user research, prototyping and MVP development. If your business idea proves feasible, you can then transfer your top offshore developers to your headquarters to help mentor your junior fintech developer staff and nurture internal talent to act as your core fintech team. In this case, you’ll be able to hit two birds with one stone:
- Have a full-fledged R&D set up offshore to access talent, save costs, and have a back office for nonbusiness critical software dev tasks;
- Transfer knowledge in-house and build a core team without substantial investment
Admittedly, the above initiatives require steady investment on the part of a fintech company, as well as high participation and engagement level. Within the company, someone has to develop and supervise educational programs, regardless if they involve collaborating with universities or not. While large financial companies can afford to support large-scale educational initiatives, smaller businesses and fintech startups are still struggling to bridge the fintech skills gap. One way or the other they have no choice: fintech is a highly competitive industry, and laggers will soon be driven out of business.
Until today’s fintech students join the workforce, where to source fintech specialists remains an open question. Collaborating with colleges and universities, running courses or bootcamps, setting up scholarship awards and re-educating in-house specialists is a long term strategy, which is bound to bring fruit in the long run. Yet, as they strive to stand up to competition, financial companies need an immediate solution to a talent problem.
Hence, for many companies, partnering with a reliable offshore development company to outsource custom software development for fintech remains a reasonable alternative. Until the new generation of local talent enters the job market, outsourcing fintech development to regions like Eastern Europe will remain highly relevant.