Singapore fintech firms are still on the hunt for talent as more consumers switch to using online financial services and the government steps up its support for the sector.
Some fintechs, particularly early-stage companies, are naturally facing funding challenges in the current climate. Others, however, are seeking new market opportunities and are creating jobs for finance-sector candidates who want to move out of traditional banks and into exciting and innovative new fintech roles, according to recruitment firm Hays.
Demand for digital financial services in areas such as payments, lending and trading has generally been on the rise in Singapore and globally over the past few months as people eschew face-to-face transactions in favour of web-based platforms. Some fintechs, including digital banks, can potentially take advantage of the increasing digitalisation drive brought about by changing consumer demand during Covid-19. Nimble fintechs may be able to put new products to market more efficiently than large firms that are hampered by legacy technologies.
Singapore, as an established regional fintech hub, is now well positioned to meet these new challenges. “The way fintechs are changing conventional banking through efficiency and accessibility is a major trend we have observed,” says Deepika Devarajan, Team Manager at Hays.
“From a recruitment perspective, this provides interesting, non-traditional options for banking and financial services candidates to explore more innovative roles,” adds Deepika.
“For example, the rapid entry of new players in the payments and cards space is creating demand for strategic and forward-thinking candidates with expertise in product development and innovation.”
Singapore recently introduced new incentives to encourage businesses to switch to digital payment solutions, which will help the payments industry to further expand. The government also recognises the importance of fintech to the wider economy.
In April, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced a S$125m Covid-19 support package for financial institutions, which is partly focused on the fintech sector and includes subsidies for staff training and graduate hiring. The following month, MAS (in partnership with the Singapore FinTech Association and the AMTD Foundation) launched a S$6m Fintech Solidarity Grant.
Putting the Tech in Fintech
The highest demand for talent among fintechs is currently in the product development and product implementation space, particularly those with an acute understanding of digitalisation. “Firms want people who are able to do a deep-dive on the product, as well as partner with technology teams to successfully commercialise the solution,” says Deepika.
This is why being both technology and product savvy is a major advantage for fintech hopefuls. “It becomes a lot harder to thrive in a fintech environment if you understand the finance side but not so much the technology. If you are able to walk into a fintech and deliver passion for both the product and the technology behind it, you will be able to grow faster and go much further,” says Deepika.
Having the right soft skills is also important. “The DNA that most fintechs look for in a candidate includes a thirst for innovation and being curious enough to strip down processes and make them more streamlined. These skills contribute to the efficiency and accessibility that set fintechs apart from traditional banks,” says Deepika.
Conventional banking goes digital
For those not quite ready to make the fintech leap, the current digitalisation drive in payments and other fields has also created new and innovative opportunities at conventional banks, who have been forced to rethink their customer retention strategies to stay competitive.
“Payment teams in traditional banks are now focusing on digitalisation and innovation in areas like mobile money and e-commerce. This gives candidates a unique opportunity to work with a fintech mindset but within the stable platform that banks provide,” says Deepika.
In addition, Hays has identified a talent shortage in the cash and payments sector in Singapore, due to the limited number of companies with strong payment products from which candidates can be recruited. Deepika says this situation also creates opportunities for some job seekers, as both banks and fintechs are increasingly open to hiring people from various backgrounds, such as those who have worked at e-commerce or technology companies.
For employers affected by this talent shortage, Hays is currently assisting them in meeting their talent needs by looking for candidates with transferable skillsets. “We avoid only looking at requirements on paper and finding candidates who are an exact match,” says Deepika. “Instead, we go a little out of the conventional sourcing strategy to look for candidates from other industries who not only have product knowledge but also valuable transferable skillsets. These will enable them to integrate easily within the wider organisation.”
Finding the right fit in fintech
Many candidates who work for traditional banks are enthusiastic about moving to the fintech space, but Deepika cautions that they should try to find a company that is a good fit for them personally. Hays takes a very consultative approach to helping its candidates land their ideal job, working with them to match their interests and skillsets to the right fintech firm. Alternatively, candidates could do their own research and speak to people in the industry to understand the culture of different firms and how they operate.
Deepika says that working in a fintech may not suit everyone. For example, candidates in hybrid roles that have both client-facing and product development elements must have strong multi-tasking skills and competencies. They also need to be very agile in their job and thrive in an environment that might be quite unstructured.
“Candidates would benefit from thinking about what their strengths are and whether they are truly prepared to move out of their comfort zone at this stage of their career,” she says. “It is not something that will appeal to everyone, but if they are truly prepared then fintechs present a fantastic opportunity for growth.”