CEO, Innovate Finance
FinTech thrives where capital, tech and talent connect with regulators and government. The UK’s regulatory and policy framework have significantly contributed to its growth.
The UK has a long history as a financial services hub and its FinTech ecosystem has all the key elements for a world-leading environment where FinTech can thrive. Startups, entrepreneurs and technological innovation are in abundance here. It’s a place where capital, tech and deep pools of talent connect with regulators and government.
The progressive regulatory and policy framework within the UK has been a significant contributing factor to the growth of its FinTech space, while investors have been encouraged by their balanced method and recognise the potential this brings for rapid adoption and scaling of new approaches.
Global talent needed to support UK FinTech growth
However, as FinTech adoption accelerates around the world, the UK will find it increasingly tough to keep up with the demand for skills. Its FinTech industry is highly dependent on global talent – in fact, approximately 42% of the current UK FinTech workforce is drawn from non-UK nationals.
As the sector grows, it is essential that we develop the pipeline to feed the next generation of FinTech companies. A lack of available skills, either international or domestic, was cited as the key challenge many of these firms are facing, as well as salary pressures caused by a restricted talent pool as FinTechs compete with banks and other financial services firms for the same resources.
Investing in schools to prioritise FinTech
For FinTech businesses to thrive, the UK should continue to undertake an assessment of the key skills required, to identify where there is a gap, and create a mechanism for filling that gap. We should also ensure that we are investing in education, so that the changing nature of the UK economy is reflected in our schools’ curriculum, as we move further towards a fully-digital economy.
This is why supporting talent and skills in FinTech (and the development of our FinTech for Schools campaign) is a key priority for Innovate Finance in 2019 as we recognise this is one of the biggest issues within the FinTech community.
Increasing numbers of financial services firms are also looking further afield than London. While London continues to be the dominant centre for FinTech, two-thirds of employment in the financial and professional services industry is located outside of London, and momentum is therefore growing within the UK’s national FinTech scene.
Relatively lower costs and a pipeline of quality university graduates – often the product of careful collaboration between firms and tertiary education establishments – are proving increasingly attractive throughout the UK.
Government support to open opportunities across the tech sector
By encouraging a domestic talent pipeline, FinTech can provide opportunities for employment and development across a broad range of careers and roles for those entering the workforce in the future.
How we approach the development of this talent pipeline in FinTech may prove beneficial to other technology sectors, encouraging school leavers to consider a career in technology, and those already in finance careers to consider retraining or re-purposing their roles. FinTech could also facilitate more traditional financial services players to reconsider their approach to training, and culture, leading to a more diverse workforce. What is vital, whether it is access to a global talent pool or a domestic skills pipeline, is that Government continues to work with industry to ensure that these pipelines are appropriately resourced and supported by policy that allows such a diverse pool of talent to thrive.