Amid continued concerns around the impact Brexit will have on the talent deficit in the financial services industry, Felicity Burch, director of innovation and digital at CBI and Omar Ali, partner at EY discuss how to inspire the next generation of fintech talent with Finextra.
Burch highlights the role of the fintech sector as a vital part of the UK's financial services scene, helping to inspire competition, keep the economy moving, and lift productivity.
“It is vital that growing firms in this space have access to the talent they need to innovate and grow, from developers to project managers, the UK needs to build a pipeline fit for the future," she says.
According to data from the World Economic Forum, referred to by Ali, “the talent deficit is driven both by rapid growth of the fintech sector and by a major shift in the types of roles in financial services more broadly.
“Emerging roles – including data analysts, AI and machine learning specialists, designers, people who work in innovation roles – who currently account for 15% of the financial services workforce, are expected to account for 29% of the workforce by 2022.”
Ali goes on to explain that there “is a real concern over how the industry will source these new skills. Meeting the needs of the sector will undoubtedly require reskilling existing staff and ensuring the industry remains attractive to the best talent.”
While the fintech industry can seem exciting and attractive to those on the outside, Ali also points to how it may be difficult for newcomers to navigate it and decide where they would fit in. However, Ali remains optimistic and says that “the sector will be demystified and in doing so become more accessible to a broader range of talent.”
Is Brexit draining the talent pool?
Will Brexit exacerbate the already limited pool of technology talent? Ali puts this challenge into context and reveals that one in four employees in the banking and finance sector in London are non-UK citizens and of these, 17% are from the EuropeanUnion.
A staggering 84% of firms need non-UK talent to fill the current skills shortage and 76% require specialist knowledge that is not available in the UK, Ali states.
“That means it is essential we get the immigration system right post-Brexit. We await to see what the post-Brexit immigration policy will hold. To be effective it needs to really drive our global competitiveness, look at talent holistically and benefit the whole of the UK.”
Research from EY provides evidence of success as a result of the work put in by the UK Government and regulators such as the Financial Conduct Authority, from its “sandbox, to its tech sprints, to regulating crowdfunding, to the Bank of England’s FinTech accelerator, the UK has set a very high bar in engaging the sector and is constantly innovating,” – further reiterating the importance of getting the immigration process right after Brexit.
Plan of action
Ali believes that fintech companies should think about poaching talent direct from the school and university system. “School leavers and graduates are full of energy and fresh ideas and come with an appetite to learn and be trained.
“It requires significant effort to cover the school leavers and university milk round system effectively due to the number of great institutions out there and the competition for the best talent. Fintech firms will need to think creatively on how to do this and may need to work together as an industry to cover it effectively.”