How Big Is the Fintech Sector in London?
In 2019 the financial services sector, as a whole, contributed approximately $189 billion USD to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.7 Trillion USD (about 7%).
In 2018 there were 1.1 million financial services jobs in the UK, 3.1% of all jobs. About half of this economic activity occurred specifically in London, which is widely known as Europe’s financial hub.
Of course, with Brexit, global trade tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic, many jobs have been lost, and probably many more will be lost in the coming months and years.
Despite a looming Brexit, the UK fintech sector has been booming. How big is fintech now in London then? According to statistics from Innovate Finance, the UK fintech sector attracted record investment of $4.9 billion in 2019, surpassing the $3.6 billion from 2018. This makes the UK the second biggest fintech market in the world, after the US, when it comes to venture capital investment. Investors are attracted to London’s established expertise in finance and financial compliance, especially when it comes to open banking.
While some fintechs aren’t that known from the public, there are some households name that will surely sound familiar: Monzo, Starling, Truelayer, Nutmeg and Revolut, which have all established themselves in London.
Recruitment in fintech
We are seeing more and more candidates willing to take a pay cut to work at a fintech. This can be attributed to the rising popularity of flexible working and finding a perfect balance between work and personal life. There used to be a time when new grads and junior staff would flock to law firms and hedge funds, but the demand for this alternative work-life balance has been growing tremendously, making those candidates reconsider their priorities and preferences.
Similar to what you might see in Silicon Valley tech companies, fintechs have been trying to cater to this demand. There’s also a lot of experienced talent in the market who are keen to make the move across from more traditional financial services companies.
Most fintechs are startups and like any startup, it can come with inherent risk. Many startups fail after the first few years and there can also be a lot more in a fintech role than was exactly written on the tin. Candidates should therefore be aware of the different risks associated to these types of roles, and make sure to ask (a lot of) questions about a role’s daily tasks when speaking with a hiring manager.
If you’re entering the company with any legal or compliance responsibility, it’s important to conduct some good vetting before taking the plunge and it’s worth asking the recruiter or the company about what products they’re offering, where their approvals are up to and the trajectory of the company. Fintechs are used to pitching to venture capitalists, so make sure you go in with your eyes open.
Felix Blumer is an ex-lawyer and a Consultant at Rutherford, the executive legal and compliance recruitment specialists.
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