In light of the digital revolution and the arrival of fintechs, financial entities need new employee profiles with mathematics and engineering. These professionals are in short supply, and so the commitment to training, both internally and in collaboration with universities, is increasingly important.
Fintech is one of the most prominent words in the financial press these days. The use of increasingly powerful technologies like big data and artificial intelligence in financial environments has led to an almost infinite number of promising business models, and has transformed traditional banking sector activities, adding improvements and sophistication. At the same time, however, fintechs have revealed a new challenge: addressing the lack of professionals prepared to benefit from this revolution.
Specifically, professionals trained in engineering (especially computer science and telecommunications), mathematics, and physics are in high demand at financial institutions. The demand is urgent given the disconnect between university training and current market demands. However, academic alternatives are gradually emerging to alleviate this problem, such as the specialized Master’s degree in fintech offered by Madrid’s Universidad Carlos III. The third iteration of the program was recently presented in Madrid at BBVA Open Space.
As explained by the Director of the Master’s program, Fernando Fernández Rebollo, the objective is to create a bridge between two worlds — the technical and the financial — that must work hand in hand in both fintechs and large financial entities. The academic program is designed for technical profiles (engineers, physicists, and mathematicians). The upcoming program, which will start in September 2018, will feature a class focused on blockchain, although big data continues to be the most emphasized technology in the curriculum.
Data, one of BBVA’s internal pillars
BBVA collaborates with this master’s program, which has a partially in-person structure and offers paid internships to its students in three of its Corporate and Investment Banking division departments: Engineering, Corporate and Investment Banking; Quantitative and Business Solutions; and Global Risk Management.
During the presentation of the master’s, Jordi Combis, Talent Manager in BBVA’s CIB division, commented that "we are increasingly hiring more mathematicians, physicists and engineers than candidates with financial profiles, especially in the central units. The STEM profiles (science, technology, engineering and math) have an increasingly clear opportunity to work in the financial sector.”
“Financial entities have large volumes of high-potential data that is even more interesting than the data Facebook has”
For his part, José Cebrián, Data Portfolio Manager at BBVA, explained why joining part of a financial entity like BBVA is a great option for anyone who wants to develop their career in big data. On the one hand, due to the very nature of the business, “Not all industries are equally positioned to generate value through data. Financial entities have large volumes of high-potential data, data that is even more interesting than the data Facebook has.”
In addition, he explained, “BBVA has a distinguishing feature with respect to the rest of the financial industry: it has made the decision to be a data driven organization. For that reason, since 2017, we have had a [...] data unit that reports directly to the executive director. It is not going to have a separate big unit of data experts: it has to be present and integrated in each and every one of the bank’s departments and decisions.”
To achieve this integration, Cebrián added, it is important to have internal training, a concept also mentioned by Combis: “With internal training, we are trying to create our own data scientists –by training our data analysts–, in addition of looking elsewhere.” BBVA has more than 12,000 developers working around the world and expects to re-skill 20,000 professionals to work as software developers. It is a task that complements collaboration with universities because the digital revolution requires combining all types of efforts to capture talent.