For decades, anyone studying to enter the world of professional finance entered a job market dominated by big banks, trading houses, and accountancies. Today, the rise of fintech is upending the status quo in the financial sector and changing the nature of the market for would-be financial professionals all over the world. This is especially true here in the UK. For proof, just follow the money.
In the past year, investment and growth in the UK's fintech space set new records nationwide, driving innovation in everything from automated inventory costing software to digital international monetary transfers. That growth is having a profound effect on the world of finance in the UK, and it's something that all aspiring finance professionals would do well to take notice of. To start, it would be wise for newcomers to prioritise building the kinds of skills that fintech firms prize.
Regulatory compliance skills
Since fintech is all about bleeding-edge innovation, it's practically synonymous with breaking traditions and disrupting the standard ways that financial institutions do business. That's a great way to innovate, but it's also a great way to run afoul of existing financial regulations. That's why fintech firms are in dire need of traditional financial compliance experts, who have the skills and knowledge to deal with the FCA's regulations and can navigate the process of working within their recently-created fintech sandbox programme to gain regulatory approval for new products and services.
Blockchain development skills
Although it's outside the role of a traditional finance professional, today's fintechs expect successful candidates to have an understanding of the kinds of technology that defines so much of the space. For that reason, aspiring financial professionals should have more than a passing knowledge of the blockchain, which is the encrypted digital ledger system that makes cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin possible. As it turns out, the blockchain is proving to be a versatile tool that fintechs (and other businesses) are developing into a wide range of new products. While it's not essential for a finance professional to become expert in matters related to the blockchain, understanding its concepts and functions is a must.
Financial strategy and leadership
Fintechs may be the new hot commodity in the financial space, but at the end of the day, they're businesses. Since there are so many new entrants in the sector, there's a pronounced need for talented financial leadership in the market to help startups attract new capital and grow into powerhouses. For relative newcomers, that presents a somewhat unique opportunity. Since there are so many startups in the space, it's possible for candidates with a short body of experience to find opportunities to move into executive leadership positions. It's the kind of career advancement that would have taken decades within traditional financial firms, happening at an accelerated pace due to unprecedented demand.
Aim for the future
The most important thing for aspiring financial professionals to realise is that now is the time to gain a foothold in the growing fintech sector. With industry analysts predicting that as many as 80% of legacy financial firms will become irrelevant by 2030, it's becoming very clear that the future lies with fintech. Those that make the choice to prepare for a career in the now-booming sector will do so at a time when growth is at all-time highs and opportunities abound—so there's never going to be a better time to get started in the world of finance and build a flourishing career that will last a lifetime.