A Talent Shortage Is Holding Back FinTech

June 8, 2018 - 4 minutes read

In a recent study of 900 workers and employers in the U.K., 61% of FinTech companies say they are facing a moderate to extreme shortage of FinTech skills.

Worldwide Demand

It’s not just the U.K., either. Singapore’s experiencing a similar drought; blockchain developers, data scientists, and programmers are highest in demand. Colleges in Singapore are only graduating 400 new employable students each year, while the country is in need of 1,000 across all sectors annually.

Almost half of Singapore FinTech Association’s members say there is insufficient talent in the nation. Ravi Menon is the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. “We have to admit and acknowledge that there are some talents or skill sets we just don’t have, and we have to remain open to foreign talent,” he says.

But Where’s the Supply?

But it turns out that not all nations are facing the same problem. Toronto is a rising star, a growing FinTech hub. Carrie Shaw is Chief Marketing Officer at Toronto-based Quandl, an “alternative” financial data firm. According to Shaw, Canadian FinTech “had the technology trigger that happened a few years ago, and we are not yet at the peak of expectations yet, it’s very early right now. One day we’re going to wake up and all of the sudden we’re going to have advanced by a mile.”

China’s also a big player to watch. It already declared its goal of becoming the world’s foremost AI authority by 2020, and it’s well on its way to achieving it. ZhongAn, China’s first fully-digital insurance firm, is ranked as the sixth most valuable FinTech company in the world. The country came in behind only the United States as promising nations for developing disruptive technologies with a global import, in an analysis by KPMG.

Innovation is still led by Silicon Valley, the current standard that the rest of the world looks to. But that may not be the case for long.

The Root of the Problem

FinTech developers, systems architects, and designers who understand how technology can be applied to solve business problems are all highly sought after all over the world. One way recruiters have tried to approach the problem is asking like-minded people to refer industry talent.

It’s been successful for companies, but it can always depend on the recruiter and specific job posting. Company culture and job perks are also a big attractant for top talent, so the U.S. will naturally take the cream of the crop of applicants.

Ultimately, universities and colleges are partially to blame for the shortage; departments aren’t keeping up with the foremost technology applications within their fields and structuring classes for students interested in pursuing FinTech as a career. This leaves it up to companies to train the next generation of FinTech innovators.

It’s frankly strange that there’s a lack of talent in FinTech, given that investing, financial counseling, and other traditional fields seem to have no shortage of interest in sight. Like other finance fields, FinTech must be made into an ongoing learning experience, from school to employment. Innovation can be fostered, but it takes guidance. Without it, we’ll always have a shortage of talent.

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