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NASSCOM estimates that the market is expected to double from its current size of $1.2 billion to $2.4 billion by 2020. While rising expectations of the tech-savvy customer, increasing e-commerce activity, and aggressive smartphone penetration are key drivers for this boom, it is also resulting in new trends in the Fintech hiring space. There is now an increased demand for talent with niche skills that address the changes that are being fuelled by rapid digital transformation.
Most business landscapes today demand a convergence of multidisciplinary skills. The Fintech industry is no different. However, in the recent times, there is a demand for skills in modern programming languages, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the blockchain, cybersecurity and more. People working in Fintech also need to know the basics of banking and accounting.
Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley calls this combination of skills the ‘full-stack quant’ and it refers to someone who knows how to code, has a good working knowledge of financial concepts, and knows how to work with statistics. Furthermore, with the digital revolution transforming most business landscapes and leading to the increased popularity of AI, ML and IoT, there is an overlap of skill requirements and hence a shortage of talent. This gap between demand and supply of talent is making the acquisition of new skills extremely lucrative since Fintech companies that plan to disrupt the banking and financial space is willing to pay handsomely to acquire talent with these niche skills.
The key skills heating up in the Fintech space
YES Bank, while working on their India Fintech Opportunities Review (IFOR) report, spoke to more than 600 Fintech companies in the country and found out that the current talent pool is still not equipped for the future. While a number of employees at these companies still focus primarily on building IT solutions, there is a distinct dearth of talent that has a deep understanding of complex financial and statistical modules.
As a result, the demand is strong for candidates who understand the concepts of AI, ML and NLP in addition to concepts such as applied mathematics, statistics, probability and more. While AI and ML are in their nascent stage and will take some time before they become mainstream in India, there is a strong demand for individuals with data science skills, considering the volume of data that digitization is creating and the value of insights that can be derived from it. From a programming standpoint, there is substantial demand for skills in new-age programming languages such as SWIFT and Kotlin, traditional programming languages such as Python, R, Java, and C++, operating system tools like Windows, Linux, and Unix, and full-stack development capabilities.
Lastly, with new regulations coming onto the scene for better transparency of data handling and the security and integrity of customer data, there would soon be a spike in the demand for data security experts that are familiar with the latest regulations.
Looking ahead to the skilled future of Fintech
ML is frequently stated by experts as one of the top 4 most in-demand Fintech skills sought after by employers. It is now deemed essential for the purpose of providing better financial solutions without the need for constant human intervention or assistance. So, experts in ML are increasingly in demand in the domain. Global financial companies such as Mastercard and Alipay are making inroads in the space by acquiring AI and ML technology providers. Similar partnerships could also be anticipated in the Indian Fintech space going forward.
The growing popularity of blockchain technology to power financial transactions is another crucial factor to consider. Several public and private banks and financial institutions are running pilot projects using blockchain technology to evaluate how it can be used to improve process efficiency and transparency. The Fintech industry is thus on the lookout for blockchain technology experts who can work with distributed ledgers and optimize financial activities.
Fintech companies are slowly becoming aware of recruiting the right talent that can help them prosper. They are also seeing the merit in re-skilling their existing workforce to succeed in the digital era. Thus, there is an increased focus in the space on getting people to learn new programming languages, understand complex financial modules, leverage data sciences, and employ AI to optimize operations. As Fintech firms are much more data-centric than many other organizations from other industries, it is only a matter of time before the full-stack quant becomes the norm.