Hiring in FinTech: Top skills in demand

There is now an increased demand for talent with niche skills that address the changes that are being fuelled by rapid digital transformation. This demand calls for a convergence of multidisciplinary skills known as the ‘full-stack quant.’

The global and Indian Fintech industry today is set to witness rapid expansion in the next few years, with the market estimated to double in size to reach $2.4 Bn by 2020, according to NASSCOM estimates. A multitude of factors is driving this growth, with the primary elements being rising expectations of the tech-savvy customer, increasing e-commerce activity, and aggressive smartphone penetration. All this has led to the emergence of new trends in the FinTech space. There is now an increased demand for talent with niche skills that address the changes that are being fuelled by rapid digital transformation.

This demand calls for a convergence of multidisciplinary skills; modern programming languages, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), blockchain, and data privacy are amongst the skills that are in demand along with a basic functioning knowledge of banking and accounting. This combination of skills, according to the Haas School of Business — University of California Berkeley is known as the ‘full-stack quant’ and refers to the talent who can code and possess a working knowledge of financial concepts, and statistics.

Skills demanded by the FinTech space

Over the course of the work conducted by YES Bank for the India FinTech Opportunities Review (IFOR) report, it was found that the current talent pool across 600 FinTech companies in the country still lack the skills that the industry currently requires, specifically a deep understanding of complex financial and statistical modules. Thus, organizations are on the lookout for candidates who can integrate concepts of AI, ML, and NLP with other concepts such as applied mathematics, statistics, and probability, among others. While AI and NLP still require time to develop into mainstream concepts in India, knowledge of data science to derive insights from the volume of data created by digitization is an equally strong demand. With respect to programming, the demand lies in skills pertaining to programming languages such as SWIFT, Kotlin, Python, R, Java, and C++, along with operating system tools like Windows, Linux, and Unix, and full-stack development capabilities.

Lastly, with new regulations coming onto the scene for better transparency of data handling and the security and integrity of customer data, a spike is expected in the demand for data security experts that are familiar with the latest regulations.

Looking ahead to the skilled future of FinTech

One of the most sought-after FinTech skills today frequently remains to be ML as it helps provide better financial solutions without the need for constant human intervention or assistance. Global financial companies such as Mastercard and Alipay are already making inroads in the space by acquiring AI and ML technology providers with similar partnerships being anticipated in the Indian FinTech space.

Blockchain technology is another important factor that is driving the growth of the FinTech industry with several public and private banks and financial institutions already running pilot projects using the technology. These efforts are all aimed towards streamlining process efficiency and transparency. Thus, experts in blockchain technology that are capable of working with distributed ledgers and optimizing financial activities are also in demand.

FinTech companies today are more aware of the need to recruit the right talent to help them progress. Reskilling is seen as an important concern amidst their existing workforce as a means to succeed in the digital era. The focus in the space today, hence, is on getting people to learn new programming languages, understand complex financial modules, leverage data sciences, and employ AI to optimize operations. Given the data-centric nature of FinTech firms, it is only a matter of time before the full-stack quant becomes the norm.

Vijay Krishnan

Vijay Krishnan is the General Manager, People Management at i-exceed Technology Solutions.