The past decade has been monumental for the Danish FinTech industry.
With an entrepreneurial culture and innovation incentivised by the government, Denmark has found the recipe for success, ranking in the top 33% of countries based on FinTech performance and celebrating their first FinTech Unicorn in 2018.
Danish FinTechs also have a unique relationship with the financial services industry. Rather than feeling threatened, they’re open to collaboration and support. Saxo Bank, for instance, sponsored the Copenhagen Fintech Lab – a hub that’s fuelled the success of numerous startups. This inter-industry relationship has helped the FinTech workforce grow to the point where it now exceeds the headcount of the insurance industry.
With further growth projected, hiring strategies and salaries must continue to adapt to meet demand. Let’s dive into an overview of the latest FinTech market trends in Denmark and their impact on talent acquisition.
Denmark’s demand for talent
Many sources consider 2015 a pivotal year in the industry’s success, and the well-established financial services industry responded surprisingly quickly to the technological wave. Danske Bank, for example, adopted Open Banking in 2017, and others recognised the importance of upskilling existing teams to stay ahead of the curve.
Today, three Danish FinTech markets stand out in particular. Digital Investment (robo-advisors and neobrokers) is the largest with $412.80m worth of assets under management in 2023. The Digital Payments market is also booming, with Denmark coined a “truly cashless society” and users projected to top 4 million by 2027. The Digital Assets market (cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and defi) has also followed suit and is expected to grow 31.5% in 2024. The implications for hiring and talent are:
Increased skill diversity
Traditional financial institutes with new FinTech arms need employees with hybrid skill sets. To upskill and reskill existing employees, the demand for trainers and coaches hosting skill development programs will rise. For new hires, candidates who are fast learners and have an active interest in the future of finance will be prioritised.
Continued revenue growth and user acquisition come with new challenges; FinTechs need employees focused on retaining existing customers whilst others prioritise further expansion into new markets and demographics. Sales teams, for example, need a strategic balance of “hunters” and “farmers” to fuel growth whilst minimising customer turnover. Agile commercial professionals who use out-of-the-box techniques to maximise opportunities and gain market share will be prioritised.
Candidates hoping to land a job in FinTech need to brush up on the latest news and events. Many areas (e.g. blockchain) have a small pool of candidates with hands-on experience, so instead of upskilling seasoned professionals from a different sector, hiring managers could hire junior candidates with a clear personal interest in the market. If they’re coachable with a basic understanding of the ecosystem and terminology, they’ll grasp the product relatively quickly.
As FinTech is a young industry, it’s unrealistic (and unwise) for employers to solely hire candidates with prior FinTech experience, which was the lowest-ranked hiring priority for Danish FinTechs.
When hiring new talent, there are four main options: source financial services professionals from established organisations, poach talent from another FinTech, hire and train cohorts of graduates, or source talent from another industry.
In principle, the best option would be to poach talent from another FinTech, but this is challenging. Firstly, employees need an incentive to leave their stable position; perhaps they’d prefer a higher salary or a better working environment. Then, they need to balance the loss of the equity incentives that many startups offer employees to increase loyalty and longevity.
Encouraging graduates to consider a FinTech career is paramount as the workforce grows, and providing them with adequate training is equally important. The Danish government have supported this with the launch of the IT University of Copenhagen’s European Blockchain Center in 2017, keeping the city at the forefront of communication and advancements.
The availability of talent
With Danish FinTech employees expected to hit 5,000 in 2024, talent shortages could be on the horizon and businesses will be forced to hire in a candidate-driven market.
In a candidate-driven market, it’s paramount for startups to avoid high employee turnover and prioritise retention. Whether that’s through employee equity schemes, enhanced skill development programs, 4-day work weeks or lucrative benefits packages, it’s more cost-effective to retain existing employees than hire new ones.
Candidates will have the upper hand, and talent with in-demand technical skills like AWS, Kubernetes, and Cloud will have greater negotiating power. As the number of FinTechs continues to rise (from 70 in 2015 to 280+ in 2021), candidates have more to choose from, so employers must build a world-class employee value proposition and a stellar reputation to stand out and attract the best talent.
Trends highlight that late-stage (Series B+) Danish FinTech funding is much more common than seed and Series A rounds. We could therefore see more smaller startups acquired by bigger players and the talent market shift from focusing on candidates who thrive building from scratch in fast-paced, scrappy environments to those better at revamping and optimising existing processes for scale.
Late-stage companies also prioritise different technical skill sets than early-stage FinTechs. Rather than developing from scratch, engineers and developers must be comfortable improving existing platforms, creating tailored solutions for high-level clients, and fixing bugs.
International talent acquisition
With a shortage of local talent, Danish FinTechs need to widen their talent pool beyond Denmark through remote working and relocation arrangements. Many are doing this already as visa requirements were ranked the third highest hiring priority. The addition of talent with international experience will boost the ecosystem even further.
Another factor helping Denmark become an international FinTech hub is its status as the second happiest country in the world! Professionals in digital sectors deem themselves “quite happy”, and tech startups boast a fantastic employee work-life balance.
Culture and diversity are also two big priorities for Danish FinTechs, and 50% ranked gender diversity as their top hiring priority.
The importance of risk and compliance
Danish FinTechs face increasing financial regulation, especially in consumer lending. Despite this, open communication channels with the Danish FSA have, in part, enabled the industry’s rapid growth.
As FinTechs scale, risk and compliance become even more mission-critical; one mistake could jeopardise the company’s future. It’s therefore unsurprising that Chief Risk Officer salaries peak in startups with >100+ employees and are benchmarked higher than Chief Technological Officers.
Compliance hiring strategies
Staying compliant whilst growing comes with hiring challenges. Small to medium-sized FinTechs must spread responsibilities amongst multiple compliance professionals to ensure that reporting obligations and chains don’t become crossed as they scale. Building a hiring strategy for Compliance teams is also tough because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach; they must be proportional to the size, sector and complexity of the FinTech’s activities, so strategies need to be tailor-made.
Regulatory application processes are often long which can impact growth trajectories detrimentally. FinTechs must therefore prioritise Compliance professionals who are well-versed and knowledgeable but also appreciate the importance of speed and agility in a scaling startup.
The future of Denmark’s FinTech industry
In 2021, Denmark ranked third in Europe for FinTech funding per capita and was growing at a much faster rate than the UK and Sweden. The market has rapidly grown over the past decade and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
The rise in late-stage funding, the number of FinTechs founded, and international businesses expanding into Denmark could bring hiring challenges such as talent shortages, high competition between employers, and a candidate-driven market.
As a result, we anticipate an increase in out-of-the-box hiring strategies, a focus on employer branding, and lucrative benefits and equity packages offered as FinTechs try to secure the best talent to fuel their growth. To learn more about the current hiring trends in Denmark, download our full EMEA 2023 Salary Guide.