While those at the crux of banking and technology, say in London or San Francisco’s Bay Area, are but a stone’s throw from today’s fintech innovators, graduates everywhere are being snapped up by digital finance players in areas from blockchain to payments.
Aston Business School is a case in point. Based a while north of London, the British school’s MBAs are increasingly enticed by the digital tsunami sweeping through the financial services industry.
Ventures at the forefront of this wave need a specific set of silky digital skills to help them change or disrupt markets, says Paul Schoonenberg, Aston’s head of MBA careers.
It’s not just the fintech challengers seeking such skills, however, but established lenders that must keep pace with technological innovation or risk being supplanted by newer players.
Such large lenders increasingly need a mix of digital and client-facing skills — a killer combination in financial services, Paul reckons.
Below, he explains how fintech is reshaping finance and what you can do to get stuck in.
How is innovation in financial services changing the skills that employers seek?
While client-facing skills continue to be very important in financial services, the rise of fintech businesses and new, leaner financial services businesses have seen an ever greater focus on digital skills. A combination of digital skills, industry knowledge and client-facing skills is a powerful combination in the current market.
Which areas of banking and finance have shown the most demand for digital skills?
Information technology is central to any financial institution today. New fintech businesses have a need for specific skills, which can change or disrupt markets. But we see consistent demand for IT professionals across major, established financial institutions, whether that be in supporting trading platforms, operations or risk management and compliance.
The financial services industry is one of the biggest spenders on technology. Are new jobs being created as a result?
IT is increasingly pivotal to almost every aspect of the effective running of a financial institution. Whether through enhanced risk management and compliance procedures, creating and maintaining trading platforms or contingency planning within banking operations, IT will continue to be at the forefront of the effective running of financial institutions.
There is a consistent demand, for example, for computer science graduates. However, that is not to say that a computer science background is mandatory. Some of the best banks will train graduates from other disciplines, as long as they demonstrate the requisite skills and ambition for a career in IT within a bank. Add to this client-facing skills and this could represent the skill-set of the future.
Has positioning themselves as digital leaders changed the recruitment strategies of financial employers?
Technology has the power to replace jobs across numerous disciplines within financial institutions over the next two decades. Not embracing technology is therefore no longer an option. Financial institutions will increasingly require multi-skilled staff who have strong IT and digital skills, allied to good client-facing qualities. Working in a start-up fintech business clearly requires a diversity of skills, whereas the skills for a specific role in a large financial institution may be more defined. However, good relationship building, communication and personal skills will always be valuable qualities, irrespective of specific, technical skills.