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The 5 Most In-Demand Skills In The FinTech Industry

The 5 Most In-Demand Skills In The FinTech Industry

The 5 Most In-Demand Skills In The FinTech Industry

What Is FinTech?

FinTech is an umbrella term that covers a host of companies using software and technology to provide financial services. This includes robo-advisory and asset management firms, online lenders, online banks, peer-to-peer lending platforms, mobile payment firms and online remittance firms like InstaReM.

The FinTech industry specialises in disruptive innovations that are redefining financial services, reconstituting the financial landscape and pushing traditional-only models towards obsolescence. In many ways, FinTech democratises finance, makes it more accessible to both personal and commercial users, and takes the guesswork out of financial decision-making.

Slowly but surely, mainstream financial institutions are recognising the value of FinTech and embracing its disruptive nature – a sign of increasing symbiotic convergence between the two – in order to appropriately respond to innovative financial/technological trends, lower their costs and improve their customer relationships.

Trends In The FinTech Industry

Over the past decade, the burgeoning FinTech industry has not just blurred the lines between technology and finance, but in many cases, eliminated them entirely. Around the world, investment in FinTech is increasing, as evidenced by this CNBC article, which reports that the industry received USD 17.4 billion in investment in 2016 alone.

This figure almost doubled to USD 31 billion in 2017, bringing the total global investment in the sector over the past three years to a whopping USD 122 billion. Besides, in 2017, the FinTech industry saw an increase in the number of Venture Capital transactions (which exceeded 1,000 for the 4th consecutive year), Private Equity deals which reached a new high of 139 as well as M&A (merger and acquisition) deals which also picked up for the year with 336 transactions.

FinTech Professionals & In-Demand Skills

As FinTech gains momentum year-on-year, there is a huge demand for professionals with specific FinTech skills. However, when it comes to tech talent, demand definitely outstrips supply. According to LinkedIn, the global skills gap for candidates with tech experience/expertise will hit 1.5 million by 2020. Thus, FinTech is a candidate’s market, and firms in the industry are scrambling to find skilled employees to fulfill critical roles.

Average remunerations and experience levels for FinTech professionals differ from one firm to another and from one country to another. However, in general, FinTech salaries are the highest in the USA. In India, FinTech professionals tend to be fairly young, and over 50% of them have between 2 and 5 years of experience in the industry.

In the coming sections of this article, we explore some of the in-demand skills needed to break into and thrive in the FinTech industry.

Skill #1: Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Experts

The 5 Most In-Demand Skills In The FinTech Industry

Demand From: Across financial services and FinTech industries such as cryptocurrencies, commercial payments, cash loans, etc.

Experience Required:

  • At least 6 months of solid experience with Blockchain development plus a thorough knowledge of programming languages such as C, C++, Java, etc.
  • Some FinTech firms ask for 2-4 years of experience but often struggle to find professionals who satisfy this requirement.

Average Remuneration For Full-Time Employees:

  • US = $130K/year
  • Switzerland = $120K – 180K/year

Average Earnings Of Freelancers: $150/hour

The rising demand for Blockchain experts can be directly tied to the explosion of the cryptocurrency industry. Over the past decade, the exponential increase in the value of digital currencies like Bitcoin, XRP and Ethereum has disrupted the core banking industry. As the underlying technology, Blockchain uses a single, shared, consensus and ‘ledger’-based system of transactions to enable the lending, moving, trading and reconciling of money across the world.

The Blockchain theory is quite well-known by now, but as an implementable concept, it is not easy to grasp. Consequently, there is a shortage of people who can understand the ecosystem and build applications within its environment. Since 2016, Blockchain job postings have surged on job sites like LinkedIn. According to some reports, most people who declare Blockchain as a skill on LinkedIn are based in the USA, the UK, France, India, Germany and the Netherlands.

Some experts say that a highly skilled Blockchain engineer can earn even more than an experienced consultant or software engineer, earning a salary that’s as high as $250,000.

Skill #2: Programming Skills

The 5 Most In-Demand Skills In The FinTech Industry

Demand From: Across the FinTech industry

Experience Required: Depends on the hiring firm

Average Remuneration For Full-Time Employees:

  • US = $88K/year
  • Europe = $50K – 80K/year

In the FinTech job market, programming skills in Java, JavaScript, C++, C#, Python and SQL are in great demand.

Highly-skilled software engineers who can develop mobile applications, websites and full-stack platforms are critical to the innovation-powered FinTech industry. In addition, qualified programmers coders and developers are needed to develop the Application Programming Interfaces (API) of new products and services, and to help with ongoing maintenance and up-gradation of these products and services.

Although proficiency in programming languages is highly sought-after by itself, programmers who also have advanced mathematical/quantitative skills plus analytical and logical thinking skills will find themselves ahead of the competition. A grasp of pricing theory is an added advantage.

Skill #3: Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence & Deep Learning

The 5 Most In-Demand Skills In The FinTech Industry

Demand From: Financial services firms, investment banks, hedge funds

Experience Required:

  • Data science toolkits: R, Python, Weka, NumPy, MatLab
  • Data visualisation tools: D3.js, ggplot
  • Proficiency in using query languages: SQL, Hive, Pig
  • NoSQL databases: MongoDB, Cassandra, HBase
  • Applied statistics skills: distributions, statistical testing, regression analysis

Average Remuneration For Full-Time Employees:

  • The US = $168K/year ($38K higher than data scientists in non-finance industries)
  • India = INR 8,25,000/year (INR 1,75,000 higher than data scientists in non-finance industries)

More and more people are coming under the FinTech umbrella, thanks to the ubiquity of the Internet. As technology disrupts and redefines financial services, it also generates vast amounts of useful data that needs to be scrutinised, analysed and interpreted. For this purpose, knowledge of technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and Deep Learning is essential. An understanding of predictive modelling techniques like logistic regression and decision trees is also useful.

One difference between FinTech firms and large financial institutions is that the latter often fail to convert their vast quantities of user-generated data into useful information. Therefore, individuals with expertise in data science and related technologies are especially sought-after by FinTech firms. These skills can help these companies make better sense of raw data and draw insightful conclusions about their customers. The combination of smart machines and skilled humans also helps these firms implement automation practices and make their services faster, cheaper and more reliable.

Machine Learning and AI experts are also highly sought-after by investment banks and quant hedge funds to help them implement cost-effective solutions and get better customer insights.

Skill #4: Cybersecurity Expertise

The 5 Most In-Demand Skills In The FinTech Industry

Demand From: Financial institutions (banks, investment firms), Regulators, Law Enforcement Agencies, Multinational companies, SMEs, FinTech firms

Experience Required: Depends on the hiring firm and the specific role

Average Remuneration For Full-Time Employees: Variable, depends on the organisation, organisation type (large financial services firm, FinTech startup, Government agency) and the specific role.

The pervasiveness of the Internet in the financial services industry has created a new breed of cybercriminals. FinTech start-up companies are especially vulnerable to malicious threats to their security. Such attacks to their financial and cyber systems have a monetary impact for sure, but they also have other abstract yet serious effects – they can lead to information loss, can damage reputations, strain business relations, have severe legal ramifications, and may also adversely affect employee morale, which may increase employee attrition rates.

According to a 2017 report on the cost of cybercrime, there is almost a 30% year-on-year increase in the average number of security breaches in organisations. To cope with these attacks, firms have to bear a 23% year-on-year increase in the cost of cybersecurity and crime prevention, which translates to an average annualised cost of $17 million. Cybercriminals are getting smarter and cyber attacks on financial platforms are getting more sophisticated, so the requirement for specialist cybersecurity professionals is continuously growing. However, the demand/supply gap is very wide in this particular area. A 2015 study [(ISC)² Global Information Security Workforce] estimates that there will be a shortage of 1.5 million information security professionals by 2020. Therefore, anyone with specific skills in this area is likely to be in very high demand.

Skill #5: Soft Skills

The 5 Most In-Demand Skills In The FinTech Industry

Demand From: FinTech start-ups, Financial institutions (banks, investment firms), Regulators, Law Enforcement Agencies, Multinational companies, SMEs

Experience Required: Depends on the hiring firm and the specific role

Contrary to popular perception, a FinTech employee cannot succeed on the back of his technical or financial skills alone. FinTech professionals also need to build a robust portfolio of soft skills to achieve long-term success in this industry:-

1. People Skills:- Emotional intelligence, Communication & Empathy

The disruptive and fast-moving nature of FinTech means that skilled employees with a high emotional quotient are more likely to succeed than those who have only technical skills. Other critical people skills for this industry include the ability to collaborate effectively with others and work in teams, build relationships, share ideas and manage conflict.

2. Creativity & Problem-Solving Skills

The FinTech industry, particularly start-ups, faces a host of technological, legal and regulatory challenges and unexpected events. FinTech professionals are required to have analytical and critical thinking skills that can help them find creative solutions to such problems.

3. Adaptability & Flexibility

FinTech workers need to be agile and adaptable to effectively deal with the rapid changes (both financial and technological) occurring in the industry. They cannot afford to be bogged down by traditional practices, because what worked in the past may not work in the future. Resistance to change can be a career-killer.