Is London a Hotbed of FinTech Talent?

FinTech London

Does London have the potential to be a global Fintech hub? Late last year Write Research Company and Capita had this discussion with visitors from Holland FinTech, a Dutch start-up network, and some of their members.

Their mission: to seek out London’s finest fintech talent.

Founded by former banker Don Ginsel, Holland FinTech’s mission is to “accelerate financial innovation through fintech, to create accessible, understandable, and transparent financial services for all”. Recognising the surge in fintech start-ups, the network is now looking further afield for cities in which fintech businesses can flourish.

Who are these fintech start-ups?

The group is comprised of ex-bankers and technologists who believe there is an opportunity to change the financial system. Most are the founders of their own start-up high-tech business looking for the next step in their growth.

One of our guests, the CEO of an automated news search and analysis tool is based in Amsterdam and planning on expanding into the US shortly. Today he was here to understand how to set up in London, or even whether, to do so.

Another organisation offers gift-card insurance; another a proposition for social mortgaging in a peer-to-peer format; and another that hosts an online auction site for invoices that’s not dissimilar in format to eBay. All in all, they are entrepreneurs who have been empowered by technology to create better financial services.

But, a tricky brief if you’re looking for new talent.

#FinTechLondon

The main interest in terms of HR and recruitment was on finding top sales people and on understanding how they would be able to compete with the high salaries on offer from traditional, established, financial services companies.

Their key challenge was how to make their first hires beyond the founders of the business. These individuals would have an entrepreneurial spirit, thirst for success, technical know-how, financial services background, and the drive to make positive change in the world of financial services.

The big question was how do they make hires without diluting the passion of their brand?

The Write Research point of view

The Write Research and Capita team facilitated a discussion about locating and attracting fintech talent. Here were a few key take-aways:

  • Authenticity is key – Fintech start-ups need to strongly position their message to potential employees and put it in the right place. This needs to be creative, the traditional recruitment and head-hunting channels are not always the best option for this type of search
  • Research as a start-point – Finding this type of talent is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Before commencing on search or talent pipelining activity we recommend they conduct a research exercise to assess the talent landscape rather than jumping into activities like meet-ups and alumni events.
  • Defining the need – Companies need to understand and quantify the specifics of the people they want, and these might include skills and behaviours that are not usually on a CV! Given the resource available for recruitment within these start-ups, it’s important not to waste time going to market and interviewing the wrong people who look good but aren’t exactly what’s needed.
  • CVs vs people – Smarter tools and techniques for sifting candidates will help this type of company to understand the difference between finding the right person and those with a good CV. A combination of technology and research will make search the process smarter.

The severe damage of reputation suffered by the financial services industry during the 2008 banking crisis, paired with rapid advances in technology, have resulted in an outpouring of innovation and a new wave of tech-savvy start-ups that can do things better, faster, and cheaper than the big banks, creating a flurry of defensive activity in traditional banking. Maybe they will steal a march on hiring tactics too?

What are your thoughts? Please comment below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachael solves business challenges with the best talent and insight. PULSE comments and articles are her own views. Rachael is an Industry Executive, at the talent & insight consultancy, Write Research. You can get in touch with Rachael via Email (rachael.watt@writeresearchcompany.com) or phone (+44 (0)7736 489 801).

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