Hot jobs market threatens success of Scotland's fintech start-ups

Scotland’s booming financial technology sector is being hampered by an “aggressive” recruitment market, experts have warned.

The country’s fintech community is populated by a swathe of financial services innovators, but start-ups looking for talent are said to be facing a “hot market”, making it difficult to secure the skill-sets needed to get up and running.

Anthony Rafferty, chief executive of fintech Origo, said the recruitment crisis had changed drastically in only a few years and was set to become even more challenging, while head of growth at ePos Hybrid, Andrew Gibbon, warned that opportunities were outstripping available talent in all key functions.

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The fintech specialists were speaking as Edinburgh-based Core-Asset Consulting published its seventh annual salary guide, which is seen as a benchmark review of salary levels and major developments in the financial services sector.

Louise Powrie of Core-Asset: 'The supercharging effect of Covid-19 resulted in an extreme stress test for the industry.' Picture: Sandie Knudsen

Origo has been in the fintech space for 30 years and is one of a group of providers helping to deliver the UK government’s pensions dashboard programme.

Rafferty, a member of FinTech Scotland’s advisory board, said: “Fintech is thriving in Scotland and our excellent universities are producing a pipeline of really good candidates, but on a UK level there is a shortage of specialists and experts.

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“Fintech is a hot recruitment market, which is testament to the number of firms which warrant good developers, testers and business analysts, but with wage inflation and higher expectations from candidates, there is no doubt it is becoming more difficult to find the right skills than it was just a few years ago.”

Edinburgh-based hospitality technology specialist ePos Hybrid is actively recruiting in key areas but warned that “aggressive recruitment” was prevalent throughout Scotland’s fintech sector and specifically in the Scottish capital.

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Gibbon said: “Organisations are fighting over the same limited talent pool within Edinburgh and Scotland and start-ups are the ones missing out on the crucial talent they need to scale and attract new investment.

“The more businesses struggle to recruit locally, the more they are going to turn to remote working options to fill the businesses critical positions. Many businesses, including ePos Hybrid, are being forced to begin recruiting nationally and offer remote working positions as candidates simply cannot be found locally.”

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Core-Asset’s review found that the skills shortage was a combination of Edinburgh’s long-standing reputation as a major European financial services centre dove-tailing with the growth of a dynamic fintech industry in which new players covered the full spectrum of financial technologies.

Louise Powrie, divisional director, permanent team, fintech and pensions with Core-Asset, said: “The supercharging effect of Covid-19 resulted in an extreme stress test for the industry which, enabled by technology, it passed with flying colours. The sector has proved extremely resilient to the current global crisis and is emerging successfully from the pandemic.

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“Our report points to a demand within fintech for business analysts and developers, particularly those with cloud technologies, and technical and solutions architects and engineers who can work with clients to truly understand their needs and provide innovative solutions.

“The sector is well-embedded in truly agile working practises, and as such, has continued to recruit without challenge and will keep on doing so into 2022, with remote working being the norm.”

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