Confident of the future of London’s technology and financial services scene post-Brexit, Per Ardua Associates launched its Technology, Digital and FinTech practice in mid-2018.
Driven by a fast-growing, more substantive FinTech industry, increasing customer expectations and the promise of new technologies (e.g. Blockchain, AI), the expectation that technology and digital can ‘make’ a financial services business have never been greater. However, the challenge of finding the right leadership is the same.
Boards and management teams need to look at technology and innovation in the round. The attraction of digitally-enabled front-end services should not distract from multiplying cyber-security threats and protecting stability and resilience. ‘Cookie-cutter’ approaches to innovation will not drive deep-seated cultural change, rather creating innovative approaches and structures to fuse in-house expertise with new technological, digital skillsets will.
The role of the banking CIO will continue to evolve and be elevated on management teams. They will need an increasingly sophisticated skill set, balancing the need to be a strong voice of realism in leadership forums, keep services working 24/7, hire in very tight technology talent markets and critically assess the plethora of updated vendor offerings.
Chief Data Officers and data science teams will need sincere support from the very top to optimise their impact and transform organisations through analytical insights.
The challenger banking market will continue to evolve; newer banks will need to fuse the best of heavyweight bankers and cutting-edge digital marketers or there will be further consolidation. Private equity interest in the UK’s world-class payments businesses continues to remain strong. They will continue to strengthen their boards and supplement their executives, increasingly swapping out home grown talent with professional managers.
Post-Brexit, venture funding has remained steady; hype has been replaced by a realism that success is a long-term project driven by serious management teams who can manage mainly Millennial workforces.
Venture capital and the most progressive insurers have discovered the nascent Insurtech scene, who have been quietly building out, some with impressive, mature founders. Further funding rounds and selective transformative management hires will be key in 2019 to them reaching the scale of their FinTech counterparts.
Following the substantial investments by established insurers in senior technologists, data and analytics professionals and even new corporate venturing arms, 2019 will be a year assessing the return of these investments as insurance disruption grows ever nearer. Asset and wealth management will upgrade its technology capabilities and any COO should bring in a thoughtful, if not visionary view on its potential.
The talent shortage in senior leadership in digital roles is acute; decision makers will have to build capability in the broadest sense. Increasingly, incumbents should consider selective talent from outside the financial services industry to promote customer-centricity.
Telecoms, gambling, FMCG, internet and eCommerce businesses all have interesting DNA for new world financial services. Success in scale businesses will come through harnessing new, impactful senior talent in new ways.
In 2018, the Financial Services talent equation got that bit harder.
Alex Langridge, Associate, Technology, Digital and FinTech at Per Ardua
Alex focuses on senior Functional Technology roles in all sectors of financial services and leadership positions in FinTech organisations. He has completed leadership and ‘C’-suite roles in banks, venture- and private equity-backed growth businesses, hedge funds, software businesses, exchanges and FinTechs. He has carried out many international searches for UK-, European- and global companies. He has completed searches in all major functional areas.
Prior to joining Per Ardua, Alex was the talent adviser to the CEO and Co-Founders of WorldRemit, where he built out the senior management cadre. Previously he worked at two leading search firms, where he pioneered their FinTech practices.
Alex holds an MA(Hons) in Modern Languages (French & German) from Oxford University.