The Top 6 Roles in Financial Services and Fintech in 2021

Skills in fintech 2021

The financial industry today is undergoing a major transformation that demands new skills and roles to keep its engine well oiled and running in the future. As part of this year’s Singapore Fintech Festival’s (SFF) theme of “People & Talent”, the Centre for Finance Technology and Entrepreneurship (CFTE) and SFF have created a survey to identify the top roles and skillsets emerging in the FinTech and Financial Services sectors. This move comes as an attempt to demystify the direction in which the industry is headed in terms of emerging talent needs.

Global Talent Trends

To better understand what the next big opportunities in finance are, it is important to step back and assimilate the trends emerging in talent globally. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines. Though machines have always been disrupting the workforce – what differs today, is the kind of human effort that machines displace. As Dr Guo Weimin, Chief Scientist of the Bank of China, highlighted at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2020, “For the past 200 years, from steam engine to supercomputer, man’s physical strength and brainpower has been replaced by machines. Today, we are witnessing man’s intelligence being replaced”. 

The radical shift the industry is witnessing consequentially calls for the creation of new jobs. This means that people must strive to find new roles in the digital age and tailor their skill sets to leverage available opportunities. As of today, 60% of roles require mid to high level of digital skills, and 50% of the workforce will need reskilling in the next 5 years as forecasted by the World Economic Forum. The transformation of people is evidently fast approaching.

With the years to come necessitating a skills update among the workforce, individuals and companies must start preparing for the jobs of tomorrow, today. Failing to do this could risk hampering growth due to lack of innovation – a fact backed by 54% of financial institutions – according to PwC. The positive momentum seen – with a four-fold increase in individuals seeking opportunities to learn online and a five-fold increase in employers arranging provisions for online learning to benefit the workforce – is one that should continue into the new year as well.

The Top 6 Roles in Financial Services and Fintech for 2021

Top 6 emerging roles in financial services and fintech infographic. Emerging roles are: data scientist, tech consultant, innovation manager, human resources, cybersecurity analyst and customer success analyst
Results from the  Global Future Roles report conducted by CFTE and the Singapore Fintech Festival

The financial industry has gradually been moving towards more agile and technology-driven ways of working. However, this year springboarded companies into deep waters with non-conventional ways of working, accelerating the need for digital capabilities. 

Amidst these developments,, CFTE and SFF joined forces to learn directly from industry experts what the emerging roles in finance are:

1. Data Scientist

The role that topped the charts was – Data Scientist. The survey revealed that 56% of global leaders believe that Data Scientist roles in finance would be the top emerging role in 2021. The future of financial services is predominantly data-driven. This demands for professionals who are able to effectively work with data and leverage it to the company’s advantage. 

Financial Data scientists will help support the organisation’s key decision making by providing data-driven insights through statistical analysis, fraud detection, forecasting and risk monitoring, among others.

2. Tech consultant

Approximately 12% of industry leaders believe the most attractive role emerging in the sector are Tech Consultants. Financial services are considering a rapid transition to more technology-enhanced ways of doing things and fintechs are fighting to thrive in a world that is increasingly becoming more digitally competitive. In this scenario, it is rudimentary for organisations to be on the lookout for the right talent who can optimize processes and ways of working. 

A Tech consultant’s primary goal would be to help businesses transform their application of technology. Traditionally, the focus was geared toward efficient business processes, cutting costs and maximizing areas that could be improved with tech. Today, the role garners responsibilities from digital strategy to pioneering technology change projects.

3. Innovation Manager

The Innovation manager ranks third among emerging roles. The world today has become incredibly fast-paced – innovation cycles are shortening and customer expectations are escalating. No longer can the finance industry fall back on traditional products and processes. 

The innovations manager’s responsibility will be to infuse a culture of creativity and new, effective ways of delivering on customer satisfaction. They must be able to identify opportunities to capitalize on, lead innovation projects and deliver them promptly to thrive in a cut-throat environment.

4. Human Resources

Human Resources in finance is the next big thing. The people factor of financial services and fintechs is of paramount importance today. An organization’s human resource function has the power to boost company performance by fostering a best-in-class workforce, that is a trailblazer in new finance.  

The main part that human resources would play in the swiftly transitioning finance industry, is to source the right talent that meets the need of digital finance today, equipped with new skill sets, retain talent to reduce the cost of churn and continually develop people with the latest skills and knowledge in the industry.

5. Cybersecurity Analyst

Changing times would also see cybersecurity analyst roles emerging in the financial services and fintech sector. Increased reliance on technology also brings with it challenges of its own. Cybersecurity threats emerge as one of the most pressing threats of a digital world. During the Talent Summit at SFF, Miyuki Suzuki, President of Asia Pacific Japan and Greater China at Cisco, stated that an increase in cybersecurity attacks has been observed, but there is a dearth of talent who understand how to manage this. 

The main responsibilities of a cybersecurity analyst will be to manage security threats, keep up-to-date with security technologies, monitor attacks and use advanced analytics to spot patterns or vulnerabilities. Without this expertise, a new world of digital finance is at the risk of being sabotaged.

6. Customer Success Analyst

The next emerging role of 2021 is that of a Customer Success Analyst. The dire need for a customer success analyst is tied to increased business offerings that will be seen in financial services and fintechs. In a growing competitive landscape – crowded with better offerings – companies must strive to acquire and sustain their customer base. 

Customer success analysts will be responsible to proactively identify customers to be acted on and drive success with KPIs that are aimed at strengthening and growing the customer base. Data would also be an important part of identifying potential customer partnerships. Most importantly, a focus on customer service that is based on the foundations of customer satisfaction is key.

Global Current and Future Skills Required in Financial Services & Fintech

Infographic showing the top 5 most important skills for employees to thrive in their organisation today and in the next 5 years
Results from the  Global Future Roles report conducted by CFTE and the Singapore Fintech Festival

With the career landscape witnessing the emergence of new roles in 2021’s era of new finance, what are the skills the industry is looking for today?

CFTE asked industry leaders to enlist the essential skills employees need today and envision what they will need 5 years from now to thrive in their organisations.

The most important skills for employees to thrive in their organisation today are:

  1. Work with interdisciplinary teams
  2. Be adaptable to change
  3. Communicate effectively in business contexts 
  4. Be customer-centric
  5. Capacity for innovation and creativity

The most important skills for employees to thrive in their organisation in 5 years are:

  1. Be adaptable to change
  2. Capacity for innovation and creativity
  3. Data and analytical skills
  4. Knowledge of innovative ways of working
  5. Knowledge of modern technologies

The survey unfolded that, being adaptable to change and being capable of innovation and creativity are the winning traits one needs to thrive today and in the next 5 years to come. This is a manifestation of the rapid and constant change that the financial services and fintech industry is preparing for. It also entails the need to fabricate new ideas in an increasingly competitive world.

Apart from those mentioned above, the skills of today and those we need tomorrow encapsulate different business needs. Today, the industry needs to focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, communication and building a customer-centric mindset. This is indicative of the need to adapt to a virtual world that we have been forced into by the pandemic.

The next 5 years we will demand more data and analytical skills, knowledge of innovative ways of working and knowledge of modern technologies. This emphasises the need to continually learn, up-skill and comprehend the trades of the future to stay competitive and thrive in an evolving world. 


The alarming need for today’s workforce to upskill and reskill cannot be dismissed. It’s not too long before machines automate existing jobs, necessitating new roles to emerge that demand a plethora of advanced skills. The top roles that industry leaders envision to be in high demand in 2021 are highly analytical, people-focused and digitally enhanced. The skills that organisations will need the most today are aligned with adapting to the digital world. Those most demanded 5 years into the future are one’s ability to adapt to further disruption, innovate and build knowledge of future technologies and innovations. With a clear path set to lead one to a successful career in finance, strive to accomplish your goal today.

Equip yourself with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the financial services and fintech industry today!

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The Centre for Finance, Technology & Entrepreneurship (CFTE) is a global education platform that aims to equip financial professionals and organisations with the necessary skills to remain competitive in a rapidly changing industry. Our leading training programmes, curated by global industry experts, help talent build skills to join the digital revolution in finance. CFTE’s courses are globally recognised with accreditations from ACT, IBF, CPD, SkillsFuture and ABS.

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