Finding the right team can be one of the biggest challenges for a FinTech business. James Holland, Director of Quant Capital, looks at the challenges and solutions involved in recruiting the right talent.


In your opinion, what is the most important development with regard to recruitment in the Fintech market this year.

2014 has seen a massive and increased shortage of high quality development talent within the market. London is in many peoples opinion the worlds most popular technology destination yet as a country we have a significant computer scientist deficit. (Something we must add UKTI are currently lobbying to change).

Several business have come into the space with efforts to counter this, such as Stack Overflow, Hacker Jobs etc as well as a number of Talent pool based ranking systems such as Zlemma but the overriding stats cause many serious worry.

The main development to the recruiting market is the increased number of companies now looking to hire all competing for this lack of talent. This is particularly poignant to the fintech start-up market who only have technology and ideas rather than a big wallet to compete with.

What are the major drivers in recruitment for financial technology?

The latest technology remains the core driver to candidates looking around the financial technology space. A number of larger Vendors are seeing drastic changes in their staffing pools with the best talent keen to move to small, agile bleeding-edge businesses.

The vendors’ inability to diversify, and adapt to change in technology, process and the market have put them on the back foot. Until recently they haven’t had the cash to counter this but over recent months they are increasingly happy to counter offers with up to 20% on top of current salary.

We have seen a major push forward in the start-up sector with a larger than expected volume of businesses enters the space. This has been seen especially in the payments and money transfer space.

Eastern Europe has struggled to keep up with the demand for near shoring, with reports that it is harder to hire in Riga than in London. Romania has added a large number of potential options but the strict visa requirements for Tier 2 visas and the lack of Tier 1 Visas available have prevented many of the top talent from Russia and the US entering the market.

In which recruitment areas do you see growth and which areas do you see shrinkage?

The demand for development candidates does not show any signs of slowing; neither do cloud-based technology or the key web technologies that enable businesses to digitalise themselves. We expect to see a shrinkage in legacy technologies, with many firms switching from Microsoft stacks to more agile open- source and cloud based platforms. (Oddly, some are still crying out for Cobol and AS400 developers). 

What is the most common feedback you receive from hirers with regard to their requirements?

Hiring in the fintech space has always been driven by the best of breed computer scientists and a perfect fit; this continues and is the major driver to any feedback. Although most clients keep feedback to an absolute minimum, drivers tend to be lack of belief in a developer’s real nuts and bolts knowledge or high salaries, driving managers to ask if they really want this salary coming out of their bonus / If they have enough seed to cover it. In a market driven by excellence, firms who do not have enough cash to offer close to market rate often end up losing out.

How do requirements compare between different geographies

Quant capital has seen massive growth across Europe within the fintech space; we now have accelerators in Holland, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland. This is great for the market as a whole but not so good for London companies looking to grow, and now losing the edge that London is the only EU fintech hub.

What trends do you note in terms of pay and contracts?

The fintech market has and will always be anti-contract. IP is too important and although some firms have the money to pay many do not. Permanent pay is rising, although it is worth noting that the best talent is more interested in tech and potential work-life balance than just cash.

What have been the most common searches from hirers over the last year?

• Development across the opensource stack. We have seen a drastic increase, especially in Python and  

 Functional programming.

• Systems Engineering and Administration across the AWS and Linux stack have been equally popular.

• DevOps – Excuse the cliché but the this has been a real push this year, quite often just brig sys admins  

  but several well know fintech50 business have truly embraced the benefit of a true Developer who can

  also act as a Sys Admin.

How long, on average, does a candidate spend on a job search?

Very hard question to answer, but on average developers spend 17 days on the open market; some as little as 2 days.

We are seeing an average of 4 offers per candidate.

95% of candidates will be counter offered by their current company.

What would you recommend to potential candidates in terms of skill sets that will be in demand and will be best remunerated?

Best remunerated at present:

AWS Architects

Ruby Developers

Django Developers

Python Developers

Angular.JS Developers

Core Java Developers

LAMP Stack Developers

MVC 5 Developers

 Demand for people who can create complex yet well-designed websites, especially with JavaScript, up by around 20%, so if you are a developer looking to get ahead, learn solid and complex JavaScript, especially node.js or Angular.js

If you are more infrastructure focused, get your head around AWS or Azure, especially with the ability to script and automate in Bash or Python.

Overall, a tough year for small start-ups trying to compete for talent, but a great year for the fintech industry as a whole. Banks are starting to find their cheque pens again and there is definitely a new buzz around London. Long may it continue.