Demand for expert contractors has ramped up this year as organizations seek the specialist skills and knowledge that can help them keep pace with rapid change in the payments and fintech industries.
Whilst demand for FinTech & payments talent remains its growth trajectory, acquiring the right people can go a long way in enabling business growth. As innovation happens at a very rapid pace in the FinTech & payments industry - keeping up with customer demands and industry standards has proven to be very challenging. This has consequently led to the increased need for companies to hire specialists to fill that gap.
Companies typically choose a contractor to fulfill a business need or to solve a challenge that cannot be solved internally. This gap in expertise might relate to a specific project with a defined start and end date, a temporary replacement (for maternity/paternity cover for example) or simply a lack of permanent employees available in the required timeframe. Whatever the motivation, an immediate solution is required, and contractors offer the unique ability to be up and running in an instant.
Given the need they serve, recruitment of a temporary candidate must be fast and precise. Specific technical ability and previous experience solving the problem in question are paramount, as well as the ability to swiftly adapt to new situations. This contrasts with permanent placements, where career aspirations and cultural fit for the company are much higher on the priority list.
Although generally speaking more expensive upfront, contractors do not come with the overheads associated with permanent employees, pension provision for example, and can be turned on and off as needs dictate. They can, therefore, often present the perfect solution in turbulent and/or transformative periods, where companies may need immediate expert help but are not in a position to commit to a permanent employee.
This short-term arrangement did see many contractors lose their jobs when the global pandemic first hit, however, as businesses retrenched and projects were canceled or put on hold. Budget restrictions meant that contractors were less likely to be approved than permanent employees, and companies also sought candidates outside their local market, in India and Eastern Europe for example, where they are cheaper to hire.
The temporary recruitment market began to pick up again at the end of 2020.
“Vacancies began to increase because, after more than a year in the pandemic, companies thought: We can’t sit still any longer, we need to do more business development, get new clients on board."
“If the commercial side of the business is taking these steps, then the operational and technical side – everything behind it – must start moving as well.
AML regulations are not the only driver for regtech expertise. Brexit has also expanded the need. With many companies deciding to relocate all or part of their operations to EU-member states so that they can continue to serve their customers in the single market, regulatory change projects have become more commonplace. Companies have had to apply for new licenses to operate, hiring in experts who can ensure a smooth set-up and compliance with local regulations.
While the pandemic saw cuts to the wider temporary recruitment market, it simultaneously pushed digital payments into a new era as businesses were forced to move online. Ensuring a frictionless payments experience for the customer became an integral part of the business proposition for almost every industry and Open Banking supported that change.
The niche nature of the fintech and payments industry means that subject matter experts are always needed. And they can be difficult to find. It is relatively easy to find the hard skills – to match the technical qualifications for example - but finding someone with the experience and capability to galvanize the various teams involved in a payments project and to adapt to the situation quickly, is much more challenging.
Companies need specialists that can develop new product initiatives to enhance the customer experience and embed flexible payments functionality directly into their offerings.
Ecommerce companies might want to launch their own credit card, for example, or integrate the checkout process for payments to ensure high conversion rates.
While software development projects can be completed more remotely – a company can often find a suitable Java developer in a more remote, low-cost market for example – a payments specialist must be on the ground. Local expertise is even more important given the increasing complexity of anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and variations in the interpretations of these regulations between jurisdictions. Banks have been under the regulatory spotlight for years but as the net widens to incorporate more sectors, cryptocurrency platforms and payment service providers for example, the need for subject matter specialists who can support these requirements grows in tandem.
Given the importance of payments functionality and expertise, many companies would still prefer to hire a permanent member of staff, says Christian van Cosburgh
But the scarcity of high-quality candidates means that contractors are often the only viable option. Demand for payments experts has reached such a level that many permanent staff – seeking more diversity of roles and experience – have made the transition into contracting. This leads to a shortage of permanent expertise and further fuels the temporary market. “It is very much a candidate-driven market at the moment,” says van Cosburgh. “There might be a lot of contractors but there are not many true specialists - the demand for high quality candidates far outstrips the supply.”
In a highly competitive, fast-growing industry, securing the right payments professional could be the difference between keeping up or falling by the wayside.
Paymentgenes Interim Solutions specializes in placing temporary experts in the fields of Product & IT, Risk & Compliance, Data & Analytics and Project & Change management. They work with clients in the Payment and Fintech industry or suppliers and vendors related, such as eCommerce merchants or organizations specializing in Identity and Fraud.
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