Philippe Gelis, CEO of Kantox, providers of a leading foreign exchange trading platform, has recently been quoted as saying, “Fintech is changing the finance sector just like the Internet changed the written press and the music industries. In what is a stagnant sector monopolised by banks, finance is ripe for innovation and fintech is unquestionably the catalyst needed for change.”
As a recruitment consultant specialising in financial services myself, it is difficult not to agree with him. 2015 was a big year for FinTech with record amounts of investment capital flowing into the sector. The financial services industry today is more focused on technology innovation than at any other point in its history and the banking crisis has helped to drive the current wave of Fintech innovation, as institutions try to figure out how to do things faster, cheaper and more securely.
In March of last year, the Irish government published its International Financial Services sector’s strategy for 2015-2020 (IFS2020). Among other things, IFS2020 identifies Ireland as one of the leading countries in Europe for FinTech venture investment. While London is the undisputed FinTech capital of Europe, Ireland could carve out a niche as the go-to place for FinTech R&D and services. In Ireland today, there are already approx. 5,000 people employed in the direct FinTech industry.
The Irish government plans to double that figure by 2020 targeting the creation of 5,000 new jobs in the FinTech sector within the next four years.
What is FinTech?
A merging of the words ‘Financial’ and ‘Technology’, FinTech has become the global term for technology applied to financial services. Fintech is financial technology; it’s about major changes to asset management, business and personal loans, fund raising, money transfers, financial advisory services and insurance, risk and compliance, FX, mobile and retail banking among others. Historically, financial services companies struggled with outdated legacy platforms and IT architectures. However, financial institutions are now trying to come to terms with how they can use technology in a more agile, profitable and consumer-friendly way. The ever growing reliance of financial services organisations on “big data” analytics, real-time feedback, smart devices and cyber-security mean that technology and financial services are becoming inextricably linked.
Deloitte recently reported that UK and Irish-based Fintech companies are involved in more than 50 percent of Europe’s FinTech deals. Some would say that Ireland is uniquely placed to become an international financial technology hub for Fintech. Dublin already has both a broad Financial Services sector and a very strong technology sector. With major technology players such as Google, Facebook and Paypal as well as large financial services players including Citi, State Street and Mastercard already based in Ireland, we are well placed to rival London as a FinTech hub.
In fact, FinTech fever has already come to Ireland with small indigenous companies such as Realex and Currencyfair taking on payments and foreign exchange business. Accenture, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, are looking for Ireland’s best early stage tech companies to join their FinTech Innovation Lab Accelerator programme.
Financial Services Institutions are seeking to embrace technology innovation to support their business For example, financial giants such as Citigroup, Mastercard, State Street have located their R&D innovation labs in Ireland. Just recently Irish fintech company Rubicoin announced the US launch of its new app ‘Invest by Rubicoin’ on iOS, which aims to allow beginner investors to buy stocks from a specific portfolio of 37 brands displayed in its ‘showroom’ on the app. So it’s fair to say ‘FinTech Fever’ has reached our shores.
I am reminded of the well-known quote, ‘With change comes opportunity’ when discussing how FinTech could impact the financial services jobs market over the next few years.
It’s difficult to predict what the FinTech jobs of the future will be (10-15 years ago, roles in content marketing, social media and SEO hadn’t been thought of). But what types of roles could should we be expecting to see more of and who is likely to be in demand going forward? Typical technology roles such as Project Managers, Software Developers, QA Analysts, Testers, and Business Analysts should be abundance while those with cybersecurity and payments experience will have a significant advantage when looking for work in FinTech. We should also see continued demand for more ‘traditional’ financial services type roles e.g. compliance/trustee/legal/regulation/risk to HR and office admin roles. In addition to these, one of the more exciting roles I have seen recently has been the growth in demand for Innovation Cryptocurrency Engineers!
So what can you do to catch the Fintech fever if you looking to start your career or change jobs in 2016? If you are a graduate an obvious path is an internship or graduate programme. I would suggest checking out some of the websites of the well-established financial services companies for opportunities in Fintech.
For the more experienced financial services professionals looking to move into the sector? A simple principle that has helped me navigate my career path has been knowing my transferable skills at all times, and being aware of the need to replace and refresh them as the passage of time required.
Fintech is moving at an energetic pace, so a passion for technology is an absolute given. If you interview for a role it will certainly help if you’re able to display this through either previous experience or pursuits outside of the workplace e.g. an evening course. An aptitude for using technology to solve problems is essentially what many organisations are seeking people for. Being analytical is almost a prerequisite for a Fintech company because you will be more than likely dealing with large amounts of data. Fintech is fast paced and you’ll need to be able to work effectively and often under pressure. It’s vital that you can communicate well – often complex information needs to be clearly and concisely passed to both colleagues and customers.
So there is no doubt that the Fintech sector represents a fantastic opportunity for the Irish economy and our jobseekers. If you are in financial services and feel now is a good time for a change, why not get in touch and we can discuss your options? I’d love to hear from you.
With over 15 years’ experience in Financial Services working in BNY Mellon, State Street Global Services and Bank Of Ireland, Gillian joined Matrix Recruitment Group to lead the Financial Services recruitment team. If you are looking to source a candidate for a Financial Services role or you’re interested in making a career change yourself, please give Gillian a call on 01 4690901 or connect with her on LinkedIn.