The FinTech space in Africa is a buzz of activity, with every month a new startup coming with innovative solutions to make sending/receiving money all the more easier and convenient.
With all these FinTech startups sprouting across Africa, you would assume the continent must have a considerable supply of skilled professionals to drive the startups’ agenda. Well, that could not be further from the truth.
The industry is driven by few highly motivated and skilled individuals, who more often than not are founders and co-founders of the startups. However, a startup is like any business (or rather a company), and for things to run smoothly and autonomously, the manager (who is most likely the founders) need to delegate some of their duties to employees. FinTech managers are crying out for lack of skilled professionals who understand the business.
Dr. Co-Pierre Georg, an Associate Professor at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the convener of a new course on Facing the FinTech Challenge at the UCT Graduate School of Business, says:
“The fast-moving financial services industry is facing major digital disruption. Emerging platforms and decentralized technologies are providing new ways to transfer value and analyze information, leading to increased competition from agile and innovative startups. This creates entirely new jobs, many challenges but also opportunities in the industry.
To manage in this brave new world, financial services professionals need fresh insight, knowledge, and practical skills.”
A research report tabled by Aon indicate that 83% of financial institutions across Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) are operating in perpetual fear of losing their business to standalone FinTech startups. The report further says 49% of the institutions feel they are unprepared to adapt to the current innovations disrupting their industry; a quarter of them say they have suffered a monetary loss within the last one year as a result of these innovations.
“Organizations need to move fast to upskill their people and individuals who want to thrive in this industry also need to take ownership of their careers and ensure that they are able to keep abreast of developments,” adds Georg.
Separate research by FinTech Circle says 94% of financial services professionals are suspicious of their colleagues when they use buzzwords like ‘Blockchain’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence’ don’t really know what they are talking about. 60% of these professionals claim such bluffing is common in their industry.
Georg is credited with spearheading the launch of the first FinTech degree in Africa through the UCT African Institute for Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM). He is also co-hosting the Linum Labs, Africa’s biggest Blockchain hackathon that recently took place in January.
Georg believes there is a severe shortage of courses and forum to help bridge the skills gap in Africa as far as FinTech space is concerned.
“We are in constant contact with industry leaders and are already seeing a change in demand for the type of employees the financial industry is hiring. In the past, if you had an Honors or Masters degree in finance you could be fairly sure of a safe job for life. But this is changing; companies require people with more conceptual skills, specifically ones that combine finance knowledge with the right technical and data analytic skills,” lamented Georg.
‘Facing the FinTech Disruption Challenge: FinTech for Financial Services Professionals,’ is a three-day course meant for a wide array of people with little to no tertiary math training.
“The course will help people working in financial planning, auditing, governance, risk and compliance positions to prepare for the changes resulting from the new technologies. They will be able to understand and identify potential shortcomings in their own skills and training, so they have a clear path for future-proofing their careers and staying relevant.”