By: 18 April 2024

Tech-based job vacancies in London’s financial services space are up by 88% in 2024 versus 2023 as the race between traditional banks and fintech rages on

The fintech race: tech jobs up 88% in London’s banking sector

According to an upcoming Hiring Trends Report from global recruitment firm Robert Walters, the number of tech professionals entering into financial services field for the first time in the past 12 months increased by 24% across England. This is most pronounced in Birmingham (31%), Milton Keynes (29%), Liverpool (29%), London (25%), and Manchester (19%).

Chris Eldridge, chief executive officer of Robert Walters UK, comments: “These findings are a positive indication for UK’s financial services and banking sector. Not only because the data shows that banks are doing a fantastic job of luring away tech talent from other industries, but also from the job volume alone we can assume that banks are by no means paring back their tech investment.”

The introduction of Open Banking has had a huge impact on this as well.

London: A fintech oasis

In terms of funding, British fintechs still attract more than those in France, Germany, India, China, Canada and Brazil combined. Traditional banks have been sure to not fall behind the curve, with tech spending expected to reach over £12bn this year, a 6.1% increase since 2020.

Chris adds: “The UK has gained its status as a ‘fintech oasis’ – with a wealth of success stories from Monzo to Starling.

“The race is on in the City for traditional banks to match the growth and burgeoning tech offerings of smaller fintech start-ups. Especially as home-grown start-ups, such as Revolut, have stated their long-term goals of building the world’s first truly global bank.”

Job ads for professionals in banking with skills in fintech (75%), machine learning (107%) and blockchain (58%) are up on last April across London.

According to the Robert Walters report, almost a quarter of tech professionals within financial services come from a software development background. A further 24% have some form of experience in operations, cloud computing (18%), data (18%), or engineering (16%).

Chris comments: “The tech talent pool within financial services speaks volumes. Banks are hiring experience and intelligence, the kinds of professionals that are adept at creating, implementing, managing and delivering new tech infrastructure.

“If banks continue at this pace in regard to tech jobs, then there is little doubt that the UK, more specifically London, will be able to hold onto its global fintech hub status, expected to grow to $24 bn by 2029.”

Upcoming regulations

However, as smaller fintech start-ups grow, they will increasingly find themselves subject to the same regulatory pressures as bigger banks and traditional financial services firms.

Within London banking, job ads for skills in data privacy and for regulatory reporting have increased 98% and 113% respectively.

Chris comments: “From the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) Refit set to go live in September, the Artificial Intelligence Act coming into force in H1 2024, to other implementation milestones of cryptocurrencies and proposed reforms to the UK Listing regime, there are a considerable amount of upcoming regulations that both fast growth fintech start-ups and traditional financial services firms will have to keep abreast of.”

Rise of cybersecurity breaches

The World Economic Forum recently predicted that 2024 could see record-breaking data breaches. There’s been a reported 81% rise in cyber-attacks on banks since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Mobile banking heists continued to increase in 2023, with traditional banking apps remaining the prime target, accounting for 61% of the compromised apps whilst fintech and trading apps made up 39%. Despite this, customer self-service remains one of the industry’s fastest growing areas.

As a result, technology vacancies featuring cybersecurity skills have seen an uptick of 69% within London banking, with large multinational banks taking up the lion share of these job openings.

Not only that, but with the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill expected to come into force in Spring 2024, it’s unsurprising that cybersecurity skills in legal vacancies are up 100%. In the past year alone, we have seen a 14% increase of cyberlaw specialists enter into the financial services world, having come from a different industry.

Chris comments: “An optimised Customer Experience (CX) carries such a clear advantage. Banks are working hard to mitigate the new cyber threats it also presents, within a landscape of already spiked cyber-attacks.

“With traditional, larger banks such as Barclays and HSBC running greater security risks than their smaller rivals they must be constantly upgrading their defences as they scale their offerings, resulting in the uptick in demand we’re seeing for cyber-security experts.”

Digital transformations forecast

Financial data is poised for considerable transformation this year. Data visualisation (104%) and management (71%) roles within London banking have seen significant increases on last year.

Chris comments: “Brought about by the disruption caused in the digital banking space by fintech and challenger banks, traditional banks are now focused on utilising digital transformation to help them reshape and grow their operations to keep up with their smaller, easier-to-scale competitors.

“One thing is for certain: the next 12 months will prove a pinnacle in the race between fintech and traditional multinational banks. Both tech and legal professionals will play a vital role in scaling operations, as well as in optimising security, adhering to regulations, and apprehending digital transformation.”

Image: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

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Robert Welbourn
Robert Welbourn is an experienced financial writer. He has worked for a number of high street banks and trading platforms. He's also a published author and freelance writer and editor.