Race for digital talent in financial services

3 min

Andrew Brem, Chief Digital Officer at Aviva, came straight to the point when interviewed by The Times this week, commenting: “Most of our industry is stuck in the Stone Age. Younger customers expect to manage, understand and buy insurance while running their lives from their iPhones.”

The financial services sector faces a greater challenge than most industries in that it knows it has to embrace technology but in such a way that it does not fall foul of the regulators.

This appetite to integrate the best technology into the way they conduct their business is something we are seeing first hand at Armstrong Craven. Whereas last year, a lot of our financial services projects were compliance focused, most of our current work is centred on building pipelines of digital talent for global organisations in the sector.

One of our multinational banking clients went a step further recently in a bid to stay one step ahead of its competition by engaging us to create a pipeline of female digital talent.

In another recent article, under the headline “Singapore makes a play for digital talent”, The Times reported how Asia Pacific is considering using the fallout from the UK’s Brexit vote to attract digital specialists to the region.

Traditionally, Singapore has used its location to establish itself as one of the world’s largest trading and exporting hubs for oil and gas, but many policymakers in the region now believe Singapore’s future lies in technology. Its annual FinTech Festival, held in November, attracted 11,000 attendees from 50 countries, making it the largest event of its kind anywhere in the world.

Such is Singapore’s focus on digitisation, the country’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, spoke of the need to address the region’s talent shortage at a recent cybersecurity event, while a growing number of businesses are recruiting Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) – the new star of the C-Suite.

Some global financial services giants see opportunities in both the UK and Singapore. One such is Aviva which opened its second “digital garage” in Singapore, having previously created one in Hoxton, East London. The Singapore innovation hub has successfully attracted tech specialists from a global talent pool.

Back in London a number of organisations in the financial services sector, including Lloyd’s of London and Aviva, are busy tapping into young digital talent whether to help develop consumer tech platforms or protecting themselves from the global threat of cybercrime.

While research and development are pivotal to Aviva’s “digital garages”, they also have another role to play, namely helping to attract talent from outside of the sector into an industry they might not previously have considered.

Barclays is another example, having been a trailblazer in the sector with the successful launch of its Pingit mobile payment app that allows consumers to send and receive money using a mobile number.

Looking ahead a few years, it is highly likely that other sectors will be turning to financial services to find the best digital talent. This is because, in order to prosper in the industry’s highly complex regulatory environment, talent requires a strong blend of commercial and technical capabilities.

Candidates opting to make the move into FinTech will need to adapt to the complexity, scale and commerciality of this type of business. The experience these individuals will gain will create the perfect digital specialist, equally adept at technology and business transformation.

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