Human Capital and opportunities in Hong Kong FinTech industry

The rise of FinTech in recent years is seen as a new wave of disruption. Hong Kong’s employers and professionals view the talent supply as a critical factor in future FinTech’s success.

According to Michael Page, a recruitment consultancy who recently conducted the report “FinTech Employment 2019”, nearly 95% of Hong Kong FinTech companies are worried about the dearth of FinTech talents in terms of big data, electronic payment, virtual currency, and insurance technology. Meanwhile, nearly 50% of employees express their biggest obstacle being the lack of technological skills and capabilities. Shockingly, more than one-third of them have switched their jobs in the previous year.

Apart from cultivating FinTech talent, Hong Kong government is also expected to improve its recruitment policies. The IT Legislative Councillor Charles Mok has blamed the government for increasingly outsourcing IT jobs and hiring IT professionals on temporary contracts. According to his legco document, the government employed nearly 40% more temporary-contract staff than those employed on civil service establishment and non-civil service contracts. Temporary-contract employees suffer from different pay for the same work, exploitation of employee benefits by outsourcing agencies and low promotion ladder.

“How could IT industry flourish if the government does not respect IT talents? How would private markets offer fair and reasonable contract terms to IT professionals?”, Mok said.  Temporary contract systems are detrimental to cultivating and retaining IT talents. Capable students would rather choose other professions with professional status certification than the IT industry, causing a vicious cycle. If the government takes the lead in reversing the prevailing trend of outsourcing in the IT industry, it will set an example for the private market.

Meanwhile, according to Professor Wei, the Deputy Director of the Shangcheng Financial Technology Center and School of Business Administration at PolyU, Hong Kong lacks a complete set of FinTech regulatory policies, lagging behind the European Union who has has enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In addition to the responsibility of the government and private companies to provide a good business environment to attract talents, colleges and universities can also invest resources to cultivate students’ FinTech knowledge and skills. In fact, various tertiary institutions have implemented a number of FinTech projects, including the launch of bachelors and masters degree programs, and cooperation with corporate banks to provide training opportunities.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has launched a territory-first PhD programme in FinTech covering administrative management, artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud computing. Applicants need to hold a master’s degree and have 8 years or above of senior management experience. They do not require a deep understanding of FinTech , but they must have a certain understanding of the digital age. Course Director Tang Xiansheng said that the course is not intended to train skilled technicians, but to provide managers with necessary FinTech knowledge that strengthen human resource management and decision-making capabilities.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has launched the Master of Science in Financial Technology programme (MSc FinTech) . Students under the program will gain a lot of practical experience, such as completing a research project under the guidance of the FinTech experts, and obtaining professional training and internship opportunities in cooperation with local financial regulatory agencies.

Recently, CUHK has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an inaugural MSc FinTech students. DBS Hong Kong will offer skilled training, internships, industrial projects and job placements to MSc FinTech students who will be extensively exposed to FinTech projects, ranging from API applications, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchain, the digital customer journey, machine learning to sustainability.

Apart from the digital transformation by existing banks to improve operational efficiency, Hong Kong Monetary Authority has also approved eight virtual banking licenses earlier this year, which are expected to redefine the traditional financial landscape in the coming future. Going forward, there are many opportunities for banking or IT professionals to develop their FinTech career. Yet, it is high time to equip ourselves and get prepared for the challenges because the competition is not only from the city but all the talents from the world.