Despite the fact that the Fintech sector in Britain has continued to attract rising levels of investment despite global economic uncertainty and an impending recession, the industry is facing a big problem in term so of talent recruitment and gender diversity.
In a study involving over 224 fintech companies, the survey revealed that the average total investment raised by firms grew from US18.7 million in 2017 to more than US25 million in 2019 ,an increase of a third (33%), despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
In the next funding rounds of numerous UK fintech companies and startups, these firms are expected to raise a total of US$3.2 billion, with Series A funding accounting for over a quarter (26%) . 35 percent of respondents anticipate an IPO in the next four years.
Finding the right digital skills, however, remains a key challenge for the industry and one that has not changed much in the two years since the last survey, over half (54%) of firms this year reported recruiting suitable talent as a major challenge. Software engineering, system architecture and development are cited as the most in-demand skillset (ranked first by 52% of firms), but also the hardest to find. The second most valuable, and equally difficult to source, is data analytics and data science skills (ranked top by 20% of firms).
In the male dominated British fintech industry, gender diversity continues to be a problem for the sector. The gender split of the UK fintech sector’s employee base is 71% male and 29% female (consistent with the 2017 survey results). The 2019 survey also showed that only 24% of fintechs have at least one female co-founder.
Persistent issues over talent are a real cause of concern and the British Government’s talent and skills agenda is welcomed as the sector looks to secure the necessary resources to flourish. Equally, the Census makes it very clear that more needs to be done to try and redress the gender imbalance, which remains a challenge despite the efforts of Government and industry to make fintech more diverse.
A separate study conducted by the Mayor of London's promotional agency London & Partners and Innovate Finance, reaffirms the UK capital's reputation as a global magnet for venture capital investment in fintech. The results shows the U.S. leading the way with San Francisco at US$3.02bn, London second at US$2.1bn, New York in third at US $1.93bn, followed by Berlin at US$881m, and Stockholm in fifth at US$735m.
The British government and also private fintech companies are also looking at importing talent from countries like India that are flushed with individuals with the right tech skills and language capabilities and are extremely cheap. Outsourcing is also another feasibility that is being considered.