Demand for tech professionals in the fintech and digital payments sector bounced back strongly after a short pause during the initial Covid-19 lockdowns.
Research by recruitment consultancy Headcount found that the pandemic had fuelled digitisation across Europe, increasing the need for more tech talent as a result.
The pandemic created an environment that turned out to be a successful global proof of concept for online banking services, but according to Headcount’s research report, there is a skills gap in fintech and payments that might hinder businesses in these fields in their attempts taking advantage of increased demand for fintech services.
“Covid-19’s impact, which has increased unemployment rates worldwide, has certainly resulted in more CVs in employers’ inboxes, but it has barely changed the picture at mid and senior levels,” said the Headcount research report.
It added that Covid-19 has, in many cases, made it more difficult for employers to recruit. “Candidates have been understandably more risk-averse regarding career moves, and cross-border hiring has become substantially harder,” it said.
Across Europe, DevOps specialists and Java developers, alongside tech leaders, are currently the most in-demand IT professionals, according to the report.
“The initial recoil of the tech talent market during lockdown was fleeting; demand sprung back sharply. The market is arguably more competitive than ever,” said the Headcount report. “Covid-19 has intensified cross-industry digitisation, piling additional pressure on an already limited payments and fintech talent pool.”
Salaries in fintech and payments dropped by only 1% following the economic disruption caused by Covid-19.
A chief technology officer at a large fintech firm can earn an annual salary as high as €250,000, said the report. Meanwhile, a tech leader at a small to medium-sized fintech can expect to earn between €120,000 and €150,000 a year.
It warned that businesses should consider talent acquisition possibilities when deciding where to locate new operations during expansion. “Companies planning tech expansion should make talent acquisition a top strategic priority and should conduct a market mapping exercise prior to deciding on the location for their technical hubs,” it said.
Due to the high demand for talent, many European fintechs and payment companies are looking to recruit in Eastern Europe. Although nearshore locations in the region traditionally offer skills at a lower cost, the Headcount report warned that competition was driving salaries up.
“In Europe, many employers have focused on tech team growth within Eastern European countries, though frequently discover shallower talent pools than were hoped for here, leading to bidding wars,” it said.
But fintechs must focus beyond just offering competitive salaries to attract staff and should also adapt their plans to match talent availability.
Businesses should make improving gender and ethnic diversity a top priority after modest improvements in these areas over recent years lost pace in 2020, said the report.
“To cite one stark example, there are only six women founders out of 124 in the Fintech50,” said Headcount. “Correcting these imbalances isn’t just morally important, it also makes good business sense as fintechs look to deliver services for a truly broad consumer market.”