Some of the most prominent financial organisations and regulatory bodies in Malaysia are facilitating a new era of visibility in the FinTech industry, which is driving up the requirement for candidates with both experience and qualification in the growing field. Due to the nature of the sector, one of the major issues that FinTech start-ups face is the navigation of regulatory systems put in place for customer protection.

To this end Financial Technology Enabler Group (FTEG), under the umbrella of Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), is helping start-ups deal with these problems through its explanatory website, and its chairman followed up on this by taking part in the 9th BankTech Asia Conference in July. Other steps being taken by regulatory bodies include last year’s creation of BNM’s ‘regulatory sandbox’, set up to create innovative ways to improve the quality and accessibility of financial services in Malaysia. In May BNM approved four firms – two local and two from overseas – to operate within this sandbox.

According to Tom Osborne, Hays Regional Director for Malaysia, this new-found open-door policy by regulators and established players towards FinTech is encouraging demand for candidates, particularly in two key areas:
• Security and ordinance governance
• Research and Development

“Over the last 6 months we have seen more collaboration with FinTech start-ups,” Tom explained. “This will bring greater scrutiny on how these start-ups can develop within the regulatory guidelines, which will lead to more security and ordinance governance roles to cope with the changing trend.” “With more automation in both banking and insurance, increased vital security checks will be necessary so data analysis roles will likely be required as well.” “The necessity of these roles has been notable throughout the previous year, but the requirements are becoming more sophisticated.” “With the development of technologies and more projects being undertaken,” Tom says, “there is increasing investment leading to greater demands from clients. This means that technical candidates are of the utmost importance.”
With the coming arrival of FinTech hot-topics such as blockchain, AI and P2P just around the corner, candidates in the R&D sector are being sought after, but here too, clients are becoming increasingly demanding. “There is a distinct movement ‘from bricks to clicks’ in the FinTech area. These technologies are still in their infancy in Malaysia, meaning that there will be plenty of manpower required to trial and implement it. There are many opportunities here,” Tom says. “Banks are trying to get a head start and be the first in the market to use these technologies. Some startups have already done this, so how we adopt it will be the biggest challenge.” Organisations are looking for quite specific qualities, particularly in the mid and senior-level positions. “Being adaptable to emerging technologies is of great importance, but candidates must also have a commercial mind-set. Companies are now seeing IT as a value adder rather than a cost factor as they once did,” Tom explains. “Candidates must see themselves as a business partner instead of just a facilitator. But for those with a practical skill set, there are many opportunities.”

An overview of what other trends have been observed in Malaysia’s Finance Technology sector can be viewed below.
1. The last six months has seen an increase in networking associations set up by established banks and FinTech associations with the aim of elevating discussion of emerging trends.
2. The collection of Big Data, and customers’ willingness for it to be collected, is leading to banks promoting new payment systems, such as PBB’s forthcoming mobile payment solution.
3. Most banks are looking how to make connections on more traditional customer-centric levels while cutting down on face-to-face interaction. This major trend for banks and insurance companies is driving up hiring levels for R&D candidates.
4. As most companies look to home-grown talent, there is limited scope for foreign candidates. However, some niche and mid- to senior positions are still being filled.
5. Converse to this, clients are attracting returning Malaysian candidates, with government subsidies to attract them. This system has been on-going for some time, but has intensified over the last year.
6. InsurTech, for so long the poor relation to BankTech, is seeing greater prominence in Malaysia. With most insurance companies branching out into online platforms or mobile apps, InsurTech is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
7. Thanks to a talent shortage across the FinTech industry, many Malaysian financial institutions are setting up training centres of their own with the emphasis on helping young talent realise their potential.
8. Employer branding through the creation of FinTech divisions is being seen by many companies wanting to appear more tech-savvy as an important tactic for attracting high value candidates.