With the advent of technology, and the call for digitalisation, organisations in the fintech industry are facing a pace of growth like never before. To put this into perspective, The Business Times revealed that 2021, despite being slapped with COVID, is a "record year" for fintechs in funding and valuations. That is, however, only one side of the story. Because, in terms of the talent pool available for fintechs to tap on, it is unfortunately not that ubiquitous.
And Don Guo, CEO & Co-founder, Broctagon Fintech Group, affirms this point with Human Resources Online.
Broctagon Fintech Group is a technology provider specialising in licensed multi-asset liquidity, brokerage, and exchange solutions as well as enterprise blockchain development. The company is headquartered in Singapore with over 10 years of global presence in Malaysia, Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Mainland China, just to name a few.
In this interview, he shares with Lester Tan some of the challenges that the fintech sector is facing, and how he and his team are tackling them with focused resource management strategies, digitalisation tools, and flexible working models to create a space where talents want to be not just in the short term, but in the longer one as well.
Industry Insider: Don Guo, CEO & Co-founder, Broctagon Fintech Group
Sector spotlight: Fintech
Based in: Singapore
Q What's the #1 talent challenge that your sector is facing?
Across the fintech industry, the talent crunch is real. There is a huge gap between supply and demand which threatens to grow wider with the rapid pace of technology developments. Most companies in the sector are facing the challenge of identifying and hiring the best talent, while there is fierce competition in terms of who is offering better salary and benefits for the pool available.
Apart from coding and software skills which are sought after, hiring skilled project management talent is a pertinent challenge. According to PMI Talent Gap Report 2021, by 2030, 25mn new project management professionals will be required worldwide, indicating projects and their successful management will be essential to industry and economic growth.
Q Could you share some key developments (internal/external) that are intensifying this challenge?
First, the fintech industry is growing by leaps and bounds, in very short time frames. The digitalisation of traditional financial processes, application of blockchain technology for verifiable transactions, and growth of digital currencies, for example, form only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much change happening within the fintech industry which is leading to new roles being formed, new skills being required, and an ardent need for change-makers with ideas. More than 70% of companies in Singapore, in fact, are expecting double-digit headcount growth over the next one to two years according to a FinTech Talent Report 2021 released by Singapore FinTech Association and Accenture Singapore.
Moreover, the national emphasis on raising digital capabilities of companies is at new heights. The Singapore government remains steadfast in its goal to strengthen digitalisation of SMEs, and there seems to be a limited window of opportunity in the time to come for traditional financial institutions to catch up, which is why the pace of technology adoption is becoming faster.
While these are external factors, internally the companies are facing the challenge of sharpening their productivity because of the shrinking talent pool.
Q How are you tackling this challenge? Do share some strategies that have worked, and how they have helped!
Because there is a limited talent pool locally, and the fact that we are a digital-first business, has pushed us to tap into different countries for talent.
Broctagon has a global team of 100 people with an established presence in China, India, Russia, Cyprus, Hong Kong, and Thailand. COVID-19 has catalysed the adoption of remote work which before 2020 was a distant reality. This has enabled more fintech companies like us to look beyond home and work with skilled professionals virtually across different time zones. According to Gartner Inc, more than half (51%) of knowledge workers – professionals in knowledge-intensive jobs like accountants and engineers – were working remotely in 2021, an increase from just 27% in 2019.
To attract the best talent, it is important to know what these potential hires are looking for. What are their motivations or goals? Is he/she a young graduate looking for experience and career progression, or is the person a young parent looking for stability and more flexibility at work?
A company’s hiring team needs to figure out how to best meet their needs, which can vary from person to person.
It is worth finding a person with the right attitude and who is trainable - that way, even with the lack of experience, through proper training and mentorship, they will work hard and eventually rise to the task.
To enhance productivity, automation of tedious tasks is necessary so that the employees have time to focus on the high value work. These are some tactics that we are employing at Broctagon.
Q Going forward, what should be the next big priority for HR professionals in this sector?
With many firms continuing remote or hybrid working models, creating an ecosystem where all employees feel connected and a part of the team can be tricky. This should be a key priority. Very importantly, firms must make creativity and innovation a part of their DNA.
The next generation of talents are seeking companies with a purpose that will inspire them and the world.
These digital-first natives expect efficiency, automation of tedious tasks, and a place where they can grow. Thereby, companies need to be in tune with the fast-paced technology changes and incorporate best practices in operations wherever possible. They must have clear strategies for hiring, talent development, learning, performance management, and employee engagement & rewards.
Q Finally, how are these challenges affecting your role - how are you proactively preparing for the future workplace?
COVID-19 accelerated the trend of widely distributed workforces, on the back of globalisation and digitalisation, which has generated challenges for companies as they look to manage them while ensuring productivity.
We too have shifted our focus to using technical or remote working tools more effectively for enhancing collaboration between teams. Our teams collaborate over Microsoft Teams, brainstorm and visualise ideas on Lucidchart, while we hold quarterly global meetings to ensure we all stay aligned and connected.
The workforce of the future will be powered by technology. Apart from a hybrid workforce, the years ahead will comprise a rejigged workforce in terms of skillsets and value. Even though automation will make certain tedious and repetitive jobs irrelevant, technology will also usher in the next era with new jobs and skills needed to thrive within it. This is why education in the early years and upskilling while on the job to acquire newer roles, will continue to be under the spotlight.
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