There’s a talent war brewing in financial technology. On this week’s Tearsheet podcast, Nako Mbelle, who runs the global recruitment company Fintech Recruiters, joins us to discuss how difficult the market has gotten.
“The demand for talent right now is very much outstripping the supply,” said Mbelle. “If you’re interested in pivoting in any way in your career, I highly recommend going to a blockchain meetup or an Ethereum meetup in any city you’re in. Microsoft is heavily involved in the Ethereum community. That would be a great place for people to explore and learn Solidity. Nobody has work experience in it — you just have to get on to Github and contribute to fixing bugs and involved in projects.”
Below are highlights, edited for clarity, from the episode.
The challenge of fintech recruiting
“Fintech hires aren’t the easiest to make. Both startups and midsize fintech companies find it hard to hire people with technology and finance experience. Blockchain and cryptocurrency companies really want people who understand finance. They don’t want to train people, because they want their developers to deeply understand the tribe that they’re marketing to. Payment companies might be a little more flexible. It really depends on how bleeding edge the company is.”
What skills are firms looking for?
What questions should hiring managers ask of recruiters?
“You should ask if a recruiter understands the industry. It’s hard to do this work if you don’t. There’s a lot of politics in certain parts of the industry. There are multiple camps in the Bitcoin community. If you’re speaking to a developer who is a Bitcoin purist who thinks that blockchain is synonymous with Bitcoin, you’re probably going to piss him off. It’s important to understand the political aspects and the philosophy behind the cryptocurrency community. They’re in it for very personal reasons and it’s much more than just about the money.”
Trends in salary packages and loyalty
“Many developers want to get paid in the cryptocurrency they’re working on, as well as having a regular salary and option packages. I’m always surprised how risky some of these packages are. I’m seeing more consultancies arise, covering a variety of industries that want smart contracts. This opens the field to people from other fields.
There’s a lot of job hopping going on. I get guys who passively contact me, looking for greener pastures in the space. What I’m realizing is that culture is everything. It’s really important to create an environment that makes employees happy to come to work, that they’re contributing to something much larger than themselves. I’ve heard good things about Consensys, about their culture. People in this space want to be challenged and have their minds and capabilities stretched.”