Fintech isn’t a buzzword anymore. Instead, it’s a multi-billion industry, one that raised $5.19 billion globally in Q2 this year (information courtesy of Reuters). Banks are investing heavily in new technologies to help them do all manner of things, from improving customer experience and information security, to regulating bitcoin through blockchain technology, and everything in between.
With such a huge increase in the adoption of these new technologies, the fintech job market is getting more and more competitive. We caught up with Henry Ho, Managing Consultant at Talent Hong Kong, to find out his thoughts on where fintech might go next, and what candidates need to know about entering into the industry.
Next steps for fintech
There are several areas of fintech that Henry thinks will really take off in the next few years. Blockchain (a technology that creates a digitised public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions) is one of these, with
a report by IBM finding that 65 per cent of banks expect to have blockchain solutions in production by 2019. Cybersecurity, regtech, insuretech and AI were also technologies cited by Henry as key areas for growth in the next few years.
“When it comes to security, I’ve recently seen start-ups coming up with solutions that tackle the issues associated with messaging. While we all use applications like Dropbox and WhatsApp on our personal devices, they’re not really seen as secure enough for sending sensitive banking information,” says Henry. “New, more secure messaging will soon be in full swing for banks.”
AI is another area that Henry has seen huge advances in recently.
“Start-ups in Hong Kong have created apps that use AI to help invest your money more effectively,” explains Henry. “You can set a financial target, for example saving money for retirement, and these apps will use AI to create a diversified portfolio to give you maximum capital gains depending on your risk appetite.”
The faster adoption of this technology is, for Henry, a no-brainer; “The cost-savings and improved efficiency that fintech brings means many banks just can’t afford not to adopt this technology.”
There is a huge appetite for fintech in Hong Kong and with the right product and people the expansion can ramp up at an exceptional pace.
What do you need for a successful career in fintech?
Fintech is essentially about finding a solution to a problem. “Many people working in fintech start-ups in Hong Kong come from a financial services background,” says Henry, ‘so they’ve seen a problem and created the technology that will provide the solution.”
This makes problem-solving an essential skill for anyone entering into fintech. On top of this, Henry recommends strong communications and the ability to keep up with the technological landscape as key for entry-level candidates.
“There’s so much material online nowadays – as well as seminars and events – that it’s easier than ever to keep up with new technologies,” says Henry.
For entry-level technical positions, he also recommends a fundamental knowledge of programming languages such as Java, C++, C# and Python.
“The customer is at the heart of fintech”
Past experience in any client-facing roles would also be advantageous. “The customer is at the heart of what makes someone succeed in fintech, and so communication and client-facing skills are a great addition to any CV,” explains Henry.
For those looking to progress in their fintech career, there are multiple avenues to choose, from sales, pre-sales, project management, implementation to client services and support. Some fintech companies are also beginning to establish a professional services arm, providing more consulting services to clients.
“Ultimately, the learning curve for fintech is much higher than for many looking to join large corporate firms,” says Henry. “You’ll get to learn about all aspects of the company and the work that it does – an exciting prospect for any fintech candidate.”