Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

UK FinTech to feel Brexit pinch just as competition steps up

Sector employs 60,000 people and investment grew by 154% in 2017

Pedestrians walk past the Bank of England in London. "Home grown" tech talent will be needed as immigration faces curbs after Brexit, report finds. AFP
Pedestrians walk past the Bank of England in London. "Home grown" tech talent will be needed as immigration faces curbs after Brexit, report finds. AFP

Leaving the European Union is making it harder for financial technology companies in Britain to recruit top talent, a report said on Tuesday, threatening to slam the brakes on a £7 billion (Dh34.11bn) growth sector just as EU states step up competition.

The Fuelling FinTech report from TheCityUK, which promotes Britain as a financial centre, and recruitment company Odgers Berndtson, said FinTech and other financial services entities must work harder to secure the skills they need.

FinTech employs 60,000 people and investment grew by 154 per cent in 2017.

The report offers ways to generate more "home-grown" tech talent as immigration faces curbs after Brexit.

"Since the Brexit vote in June 2016, there has been a significant decrease of graduates coming to the UK from France and Germany in particular," said Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK.

Up to a fifth of the skills needed in recent years has come from EU countries, and UK hirers are now seeing a net migration of tech graduates back to the bloc.

Companies struggle to fill roles in coding, cloud computing, machine learning, software development, cyber, artificial intelligence and blockchain, the report said.

"There is a risk that those talented migrants with the skills needed by the UK will leave before these skills can be replaced by home-grown talent," Mr Celic said.

The report recommends copying pharmaceuticals and manufacturing by forging long-term partnerships with academia to create a pipeline of skilled people, and also looking beyond graduates.

Better data gathering on the skills needed and better retraining of existing employees are also needed, the report said.

Britain has emerged as a leading FinTech hub in Europe in recent years but now faces increased competition from EU cities such as Berlin, Paris and Luxembourg that can offer access to the bloc's vast single market. Britain's future access to the EU market could remain unclear for some time to come.

"The current shortage of tech talent is a strategic issue for the UK’s financial and related professional services industry, yet little has been done to quantify our current and future skills need," said Nathan Bostock, chief executive of Santander UK bank and chair of TheCityUK's working group on trade and investment.

Updated: March 19, 2019 09:50 AM

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