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Hong Kong: Generational opportunities await for fast-rising fintech talent

An international fintech hub characterised by a diverse, resilient, and dynamic landscape, Hong Kong is a deep market on the rise with a large number of financial institutions and fintech start-ups looking to rapidly scale-up. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong fintech sector bucked the global trend as companies continued to grow, raise capital and hire more talent.  

Hong Kong is a hotbed for fintech

In 2020, Hong Kong ranked in the top 10 of the world’s top technology innovation hubs outside Silicon Valley and ranks in the top 10 “fintech locations of the future” for economic potential and FDI performance. Home to over 600 fintech companies and start-ups, Hong Kong is one of the top cities globally for start-ups to rapidly scale-up. It is home to 8 unicorn companies and to 3 of the KPMG FinTech 100. To support the fintech and other industries during the pandemic, the HKSAR Government provided deep funding support in total of USD 49 billion, including innovation, technology and overseas expansion support.  

Fintech talent opportunities

This surging fintech activity is fueling major growth and employment opportunities in Hong Kong. Amid the challenges of COVID-19, Hong Kong’s fintech sector proved to be a resilient, economic oasis, with companies continuing to hire and grow. We’ve seen a thriving fintech sector with the launch of multiple virtual banks and a steady stream of fintech scale-ups continue their expansion plans in Hong Kong and across Asia. Accelerated digital adoption among consumers combined with progressive regulator leadership is driving diverse fintech growth across a number of areas.

Popularity of the virtual banks, virtual insurers, robo-advisory and digital payments platforms are all clear signs of consumers embracing a new era of digital finance. The central bank digital currency (CBDC) has been capturing headlines around the world where the with recent Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has been demonstrating its leadership in partnering with the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates. Blockchain enabled trade finance is booming with the HKMA-facilitated eTradeConnect platform evolving to integrate with Singaporean, European and most recently Mainland banks to enable seamless cross-border financing.

Companies in this growing sector are looking for a myriad of skills and roles. This ranges from data scientists, developers and engineers, to those with a passion for marketing, business development and more. According to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and EY’s 2020 report, the Fintech Talent Development Competency and Manpower Study, 90% of fintech companies are investing in more than one type of digital technology, specifically investments in data analytics, artificial intelligence, big data, mobile tech and open API architecture.

While employment in other industries are facing some headwinds, the accelerated digital adoption has created a window of opportunity for the city’s innovation and technology sector. The resilient sector is not only bucking the trend, but its companies are on an international hiring spree Despite the rise in fintech degrees, the HKUST’s report found that there is still a shortage of local talent in particular data analytics and artificial intelligence, as the industry is investing heavily in these fields.

Every year the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks hosts its flagship Career Expo in March, the city’s largest jobs fair for the innovation and technology sector. This year’s fair, running between 18 – 24th March, will see offers of around 2,300 jobs with more than 260 participating technology companies scouting for talent. In fact, undeterred by COVID-19, last year’s virtual Expo saw over 170 companies offering over 1,100 vacancies and 60,000 job seekers from 103 markets.

Attracting the best tech talent

The reason behind the growing fintech talent opportunities is not limited to the growth of the fintech sector in Hong Kong. The government and private sector have contributed by actively attracting talent to the city.

The Hong Kong government launched the Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS). TechTAS provides a fast-track arrangement for eligible companies to admit overseas and Mainland Chinese technology talent to undertake research and development works. Companies that are engaged in R&D in financial technologies among other technology sectors.

To support local industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong Government launched the Anti-epidemic Fund. Administered by Hong Kong Cyberport, the fund provides financial assistance to local companies engaged in the FinTech sector to create new jobs. FAST has a quota of 1,000 new roles with a total subsidy of up to US$15.4 million (HK$120 million). It aims to create new job opportunities in the FinTech sector and enrich Hong Kong’s FinTech talent pool in order to enhance the city’s competitive edge and reinforce its position as a leading international financial centre.

Apart from the government, there are also a number of initiatives and accelerators driven by financial institutions as part of their drive for corporate innovation.

Recently, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) launched its FinTech Centre and several initiatives to foster greater fintech collaboration. One initiative is the establishment of a new Fintech Innovation Hub at the FinTech Centre. The hub serves as a neutral ground for collaboration between financial institutions, technology companies, corporations, universities and government bodies for idea exploration, proof of concept and prototype development, technology testing as well as education and demo purposes. For fintech start-ups whose operations are heavily rooted in research and development, such platforms can help accelerate the process from research to commercial.

Hong Kong’s growing fintech industry with expansion potential, offers a myriad of opportunities for fintech talent. Backed by a fast-growing industry, Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem and funding not only attracts talent into the city but also helps fintech companies grow and scale.  

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