Skills and training

Payment IT executives need a “long-term strategy”

Michel André of Banking Circle says IT leaders in the digital payments space may need to look further afield for training and recruitment prospects. Photo credit: Banking Circle. Illustration: Maison Moderne

Michel André of Banking Circle says IT leaders in the digital payments space may need to look further afield for training and recruitment prospects. Photo credit: Banking Circle. Illustration: Maison Moderne

Michel André at Banking Circle, a payments technology provider, shared his take on the skills gap in his sector with Delano. André said firms need to invest more in junior staffers.

IT executives at banks and payment service providers in seven European countries, including Luxembourg, have flagged “gaps in their team’s knowledge and experience” in payment technologies as a growing concern, according to a recent vendor report.

“To plug the skills gaps, 60% of respondents said they intend to increase their payments IT team in the next 12 months, with around 38% planning to increase investment in both recruitment and systems training,” Luxembourg-domiciled Banking Circle stated in a whitepaper. Chief information officers and chief technology officers also cited recruitment as a top challenge. At the same time, its poll found that “23% of CIOs expect [their team’s headcount] to decrease, compared with 39% of CTOs.”

Futureproofing payments tech: The challenges facing CIOs and CTOs” was published by Banking Circle, which provides “financial infrastructure” to banking and electronic payment firms, in October. The firm said that 600 respondents in seven European countries, including 27 in Luxembourg, participated in the survey. CIOs and CTOs were polled on their use of various technologies, such as cloud computing, and their propensity for outsourcing.

Delano spoke with Michel André, Banking Circle’s own CIO, about the survey results and which findings stood out for him. André pointed first to “programming in AI and development for the payment teams. So it’s 60%, roughly, in Luxembourg, whereas the average overall is 40%” of IT leaders identifying a skills gap.

More highlights from the interview

Aaron Grunwald: What surprised you the most about the skills gap results?

Michel André: “Well, one thing is, technology is continuously advancing. So it wasn’t a real surprise that there is some kind of skills gap due to that evolution of technology and everything going faster and faster.

“A bit surprising was that there was a bit of conflicting opinions if you look between CIOs and CTOs, in terms of whether resourcing was going to increase or decrease, and whether that was an expression of that they were going to outsource more or insource more.”

Why do you think they have conflicting views?

“It might have to do with the level of outsourcing they are planning to do, or with the level of buy versus build. I could potentially think that CTOs were more prone to build than CIOs, so there might be a discrepancy there, and then also the amount of partnering and sourcing they’re planning to do and due to that they have opposing views on how to resource and how to close the skills gap.”

Why did you conduct this research?

“Number one, due to the quick digitalisation and exploration and transformation that’s going on and looking at tech budgets. It’s interesting to see what we can do to become more resilient, and what areas we need to improve on. And also, I know, [from] my own experience being CIO, and previously having been CIO, that it’s a very demanding and pressuring job, so actually looking into and taking care of and acknowledging those pressures should be a business priority. So that’s why we wanted to bring that to the surface, essentially.”

The paper said a lot of banks and fintechs want to increase training for their staff. Is there sufficient training available here in Luxembourg? Or is that kind of a secondary challenge, to find the right training?

“Training is available, and it’s conducted in various ways. It can be on the job, and it can be courses. And you can actually also go abroad, if it’s not available in the country. So in my view, there are ample opportunities to have the relevant training, but you might need to expand your horizon a bit, and maybe not just look to Luxembourg.

“The world is becoming more and more global. And that also goes for where you find your skills and your training.”

The study also indicated that banks and fintechs want to recruit more staff as well. Where are they going to find these people?

“I think it’s a general [problem not only for] Luxembourg, but it’s the same in a lot of countries; it’s actually hard to find the right people. So I think one of the answers, and we have seen that in the pandemic, is going global and being an international business and actually recruiting from abroad and having employees maybe in more places to be able to close all the skills gaps. So that’s one area. Also, more long-term, is that recruitment is a bit of a cyclical activity. So you actually need to bring more junior resources into the organisation and train them and thereby create a good circle. You cannot always go out and find the seniors, but you need to have a cognisant long-term strategy and invest in supporting young talent and bring them up.”

What types of roles are more suited for remote working and who really would have to relocate?

“It’s a sliding scale, obviously, but the further you are to development, the more amicable your work will be to being able to cope with remote, whereas the closer you are to the end client and the production, you would need to be more on site and it would be a relocation.”

So it’s not a question of junior or senior?

“I would probably favour having seniors working remotely. I think it’s crucial for juniors that you’re essentially training and forming to at least be on site. Because it’s their formative years, so it might be hard for them to come into a remote working setup. That would be my guidance. Also, even if you offer remote work, it’s still crucial that you actually meet from time to time and bring people together.”

Selection of survey findings

This interview is part of the Delano finance newsletter. For the latest Luxembourg financial sector news, analysis and events, subscribe here.