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5 Aspects of UK’s Fintech dominance: No. 4 – Talent

We continue our series on why the UK is still viewed as the leading Fintech ecosystem in the world and today we’ll be looking at what we consider to be the most important driving force behind Fintech innovation: Fintech talent.

It should go without saying that a region might have all the Fintech demand, capital investment, and supporting infrastructure and regulations, but without the brilliant minds that work in on these revolutionary products day in and day out, the industry simply wouldn’t be where it is today.

The rapid growth of the industry means there is an enormous demand for skilled Fintech employees.  In fact, according to the UK Fintech Census 2017, the biggest concern for Fintechs is the ability to attract and retain qualified and suitable talent (58%), followed by customer adoption and building partnerships with established players. 95% of Fintech companies were expected to hire up to 50 employees over the course of 2017, with 5% saying they are looking to hire between 50 and 150 new employees.

Frank Calderoni, CEO of Anaplan, an accelerated decision-making platform to drive businesses forward, said to Bloomberg, “Last year, we went from five to over 40 people on our engineering team in London. Many of our employees have experience with tier-one banks, including Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, UBS and Goldman Sachs.”

There around 60,000 people working in the Fintech sector in the UK and it is expected that it will increase to 100,000 individuals by 2030. This is more than the combined total of Fintech employment in Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany and Australia.

In London alone, Fintech workers outnumber Silicon Valley and New York.

In an interview with the Global Trade Review, managing director for the leading Fintech accelerator programme, Startupbootcamp ,said “The UK has an incredible amount of talent that you do not find anywhere else. The message has to be very clear that this kind of talent is still very welcome in London, and it’s actually needed.”

Having this pool of available talent starts at an educational level and the UK hosts some of the most prestigious universities and colleges in the world.

According to the QS World University Rankings 2018, 4 of the 10 top universities globally are in the UK and 8 of the 10 best universities in Europe.

Back in 2015, The Open University in the UK, a world leader in part-time learning, along with Innovate Finance, the membership association for the UK’s global Fintech sector, also launched the world’s first Fintech 101 course.

According to Lawrence Wintermeyer, CEO of Innovate Finance, “The vast and dynamic Fintech landscape must be understood to fully appreciate its impact on economies and societies. We are therefore thrilled that The Open University has collaborated with our members to produce a comprehensive course on this subject. Fintech 101 is a great opportunity to learn about the origins of Fintech and the complex factors that have led to its creation and its growing influence in shaping the future of finance.”

It’s not just access to top-tier education that makes Fintech startups in the UK spoiled for choice when it comes to recruiting highly skilled employees, but also the diversity of the talent pool.

The Fintech report published by GOV.UK’s Department for International points out that the tech talent in the UK is more diverse than any other startup ecosystem in the world, where startups are two and a half times more likely to have a CEO under the age of 36 and also ten times more likely to be from a different ethnicity.

This puts UK Fintechs in a very fortunate position of being able to choose the best of the best.

“We’re quite a sophisticated technology company as much as we are a bank and we’re very lucky that we can hire the best engineers in the world because we’re doing something unique and interesting”said Anne Boden, CEO of one of the UK’s first ever NeoBanks, Starlin Bank, in an interview.

Another very important factor of diversity is the gender pay gap. As we highlighted in this article, it is not necessarily about paying men and woman different salaries for the same job (which is actually illegal) but rather about the unbalanced composition of senior roles which still skews heavily towards men.

The UK has put in a lot of focus and effort to at least start the process of working towards a more balanced industry. This includes the Women in Finance Charter, which is a pledge by HM Treasury and signatory firms for gender balance across financial services. Over 100 financial firms and Fintech companies have committed at least 30% women in senior roles by 2021 and other firms have committed to a 50/50 gender split in senior roles by 2021.

As a result of movements like these, startups are five times more likely to have female CEOs in the UK than in the US.

Catherine Wines, Co-founder of World Remit, a leading international money transfer platform, stated several reasons why the UK is perfect for building a global business, including much easier startup setups and flexible employment laws but among them also favourable views on diversity.

UK’s attitude to women in Fintech is more progressive than other countries and the opportunities that female entrepreneurs have here are greater than anywhere else.”

In our final post in this series, we’ll take a look at how strong support from regional Fintech hubs fuels a nation of Fintech innovation.

Interested in the full report? Click here to download.