Participants discuss fintech strategies during the 12th Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong in January. (Photo/Xinhua)
Rising need for experienced people augurs well for development of sector
China is at the forefront of the financial technology or fintech industry, and offers great opportunities for fintech talents, driven by the rising demand for experienced financial services and technology professionals, industry experts said.
Fintech professionals who possess both technical expertise as well as an understanding of finance will be highly sought after, according to Hays Plc, a global professional recruiting group.
"In China there are opportunities for skilled candidates across a wide range of fintech businesses, including banking, insurance, wealth management and payment services," said Simon Lance, managing director of Hays China, adding the industry risks losing valuable momentum given the shortage of skills and the overwhelming demand for experienced professionals.
"For those already in the fintech industry, China offers great potential. And for those in banking and financial services - or with relevant technology skills - now is a good time to consider what your career could be in the fintech industry," Lance said.
According to Hays, large-scale commercial banks are accelerating the establishment of fintech subsidiaries across the country. It said the roles in demand in the banking sector include data security, data scientists, user experience and user interface engineers, and full stack developers for mobile and web applications.
"Fintech offers career opportunities to people with experience in almost every area of banking and financial services, as well as experts in artificial intelligence, biometrics, cloud and big data," Lance said.
Global fintech funding rose to $111.8 billion in 2018, up 120 percent from $50.8 billion in 2017, fueled by mega mergers and acquisitions and buyout deals, according to a report from global auditing and consulting firm KPMG.
"China is at the cutting edge of the fintech industry and will provide a robust and exciting career for many years to come," Lance said. "Fintech also provides opportunities for those in related technology fields."
There is high demand from fintech startups for high-caliber talents with expertise in digital payment systems, digital asset management, blockchain and cryptocurrency, said the 2019 Hays Asia Salary Guide. Hays expected qualified fintech candidates to command higher salaries in 2019.
Fintech is already a fast-growing industry in China. Statistics from Beijing-based market consultancy Analysys showed the market scale of China's fintech industry reached 115 trillion yuan ($16.7 trillion) in 2018.This figure is expected to surpass 157 trillion yuan in 2020.
"Compared with the traditional financial sector, fintech talents should have not only solid financial professional background, but also flexible and innovative thinking," said Zheng Xia, assistant general manager of Ping An Securities.
Zheng explained that fintech talents can not only interpret and think about finance from the perspective of the internet, but also observe the development of science and technology from the perspective of finance, and sensitively capture the application and innovation of cutting-edge technologies in the financial field.
Yang Rong, a banking analyst with China Securities, said the development of cloud computing, big data, blockchain, mobile internet and AI undoubtedly brings about new challenges and opportunities to the traditional financial and technology industries, especially in aspects like customer services, product design and operation model.
"Internet financial enterprises such as Ant Financial, the financial arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, and JD Digits are actively exploring new business models and attempting to increase revenue through the output of financial technology," Yang said.
Yang added that domestic internet fintech enterprises are riding a boom, due to their huge number of active users and advantages in rich application scenarios.
"While fintech continues to be the core business of the company, we are intensely developing digital technology to serve a wider range of industries. The data-related business remains our primary focus," said Chen Shengqiang, CEO of JD Digits.
JD Digits was formerly known as JD Finance until it was comprehensively upgraded and rebranded in November 2018. It has ramped up its efforts in terms of its data processing capabilities and the implementation of advanced data technology, with artificial intelligence and the internet of things among the company's core strengths.
"Within fintech, we are observing a growing demand for talent with skills relating to AI, machine learning and deep learning. These skills are also sought after in sectors outside of fintech, such as other Chinese internet companies, creating a wider talent gap in the market," said Rupert Forster, managing director of specialist recruitment firm Michael Page North and East China.
Forster said talents from other industries are motivated to move into fintech if the firms can provide competitive salaries, good employment packages and strong technology platforms, adding they have seen candidates from the traditional financial services market with the necessary advanced technology skills successfully transfer to fintech.