Brexit brain drain hitting UK financial services industry

Brexit brain drain hitting UK financial services industry

The Brexit brain drain is hampering UK financial services firms in the chase for highly sought-after tech talent, according to a report from TheCityUK and Odgers Berndtson and supported by Banco Santander.

The report found that a limited pool of tech talent, further drained by a reduction in the flow of EU tech graduates into the UK, is making recruiting and retaining the right people an ever greater challenge for the finance sector.

Miles Celic, chief executive officer, TheCityUK, says: “For many years financial services firms have been able to rely on a steady stream of the best graduates from top tier British and European Universities. Now, with so many sectors fishing in the same talent pool, the challenge for financial services is to ensure they are catching and keeping the best tech talent - and enough of it to ensure the sector thrives into the future. We must get smarter about how we attract and train the people we need if the industry is to remain globally competitive.”

To help address this issue and ensure the UK’s burgeoning fintech sector continues to thrive, the report makes a series of recommendations for the sector and its engagement with those educating future employees. These include learning from other industries, such as pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, which have forged successful long-term partnerships with academia. The report also calls for better data gathering on the industry skills needs, and greater leadership on reskilling existing employees.

Nathan Bostock, chief executive officer, Santander UK, and chair of the FSTIB FinTech Working Group, says: “The current shortage of tech talent is a strategic issue for the UK’s financial and related professional services industry, yet little has been done to quantify our current and future skills need. Our industry must capture and use this data to support schools and universities nurture the skills which will increase the pipeline of tech savvy graduates.”

In recent years, many of the graduates with the required tech skills the industry needs have come from EU countries.

Anne Murphy, managing partner financial services, Odgers Berndtson, says that since the Brexit vote there has been a significant decrease of graduates coming to the UK from France and Germany in particular.

There is a risk that those talented migrants with the skills needed by the UK will leave before these skills can be replaced by home-grown talent, she adds.

“While the focus of the research was on graduates and new entrants to the financial services industry, there were also some interesting leadership lessons which emerged," notes Murphy. "These related to communicating a clear social purpose, promoting diversity and improving understanding of technology at all levels of an organisation, specifically how technology can enable a business to achieve its strategy. Employers looking to get the best talent need to find ways to make the financial services industry more attractive to a wider range of people, as well as looking further afield than the traditional narrow graduate base.”

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