By Paul Choi

Capital markets and financial institutions are on an extraordinary journey of digitalisation and leveraging technology, helping them to cross borders, connect markets and create international access for investors. This transformation has created new demand for knowledge and experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), changing the kind of talent that the finance industry hires and creating exciting new career opportunities for STEM graduates and professionals.

A Career in the Capital Markets

Similar to many financial institutions placing technology at the heart of their business, at Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) we are competing for the best STEM talent. More than 80 percent of our business is actively seeking talent with a STEM background. STEM students accounted for more than 25 percent of our total intake for our Management Trainee programme in the past three years, and STEM talent is now just as important as the traditional areas of economics and finance.

While technology firms look to attract talent by show casing their creative and dynamic environments, the finance industry offers other unique opportunities, often allowing STEM experts to apply their skills to real-time business and commercial situations.

As Asia’s premier global financial centre, and as a global leader in fintech, Hong Kong’s finance industry is at the forefront of innovation and disruption. Few industries are changing as rapidly, impacting as many people, or doing as much to influence macro-economic and social change as the finance industry, making finance a hot bed of STEM career opportunities.

The human resources strategy and approach at financial institutions is also evolving to reflect this. STEM talent was traditionally sought to fuel the demands of the IT department, but today STEM skills haves become an integral part of the financial industry workforce, and in particular a driving force of long-term technological, cultural and structural transformation in core areas of global capital markets. These STEM professionals are needed in every business function and department of today’s modern, complex, regulated financial institutions. They develop financial platforms, are skilled in risk management modelling, data analytics and forecasting, create the software and applications needed by the industry, and form the bedrock of innovative and creative thinking that supports the resiliency, stability and future-proofing on some of the world’s most vital financial organisations.

This means that those with STEM skills increasingly play a critical role in solving unique, evolving challenges and enjoy long-term and horizontal career paths within financial organisations.

Attracting STEM Talent

As forward-thinking financial institutions look to attract the very best in STEM talent, there are several ways that the sector can make itself even more attractive for these professionals.

First, organisations need to showcase technology and innovation as part of their DNA. Have a digital strategy in place and be ready to communicate this so that STEM experts can envisage themselves as integral to the broader strategic direction of the organisations. At HKEX, being technology-empowered is one of the pillars of our core strategy. We invest in people and infrastructure to ensure the long-term success and growth of our markets.

Secondly, ensure diversity in the hiring process to ensure that the best and the widest pool of global STEM talent is being assessed. At HKEX, we increasingly look beyond our local markets for strong STEM talent. The HKEX management trainee programme enables us to identify outstanding talent from top universities not only in Hong Kong and Mainland China, but also from around the world.

Thirdly, organisations need to demonstrate a commitment to develop STEM talent, both for incumbents and within the wider community. We recently launched two HKEX Foundation Scholarships that support students focusing not only on finance, economics and business administration but also fintech, innovation and biotech, and other related subjects. This commitment to fostering the next generation of technology and innovation talent in crucial not only for our own business, but for the long-term health of our markets, and for the communities in which we operate.

Shaping our Future

The ongoing technology-driven transformation of capital markets has created new opportunities for talent with STEM knowledge. As fintech innovation drives the industry forward and information technology takes centre stage for financial companies, we need more STEM talent with technical, commercial and creative skills to shape our business and our collective economic and financial future.

Paul Choi is Interim Group Head of Human Resources at HKEX.


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