Implications of The Market Data Brain Drain – What Can & Should Be Done
- Paul Gow, CEO at CJC Ltd.
- Martina Satherlund, Global Head of Market Data at Fidelity.
- Alex Stepney, Head of Customer Engineering - Financial Services Industry at Google.
Moderator: David Anderson FIA, Program Director, FISD/Atradia
At the FISD London Issue Brief & Christmas Party 2022 hosted by LSEG on the 30th of November, a panel moderated by David Anderson, Program Director for FISD, recognised the long-running talent shortage in the financial market data sector as CJC also highlighted in July and opened the discussion on the following premise:
“Whatever the cause, there is a skill and a staff shortage in the market data sector. Where does the industry see and feel that brain drain most? And critically what can be done? Undoubtedly the industry should invest more in the people we have – and more ways of recruiting fresh talent should be sought.”
Opening the panel, David framed the discussion under 3 categories:
- What is the problem?
- Where do firms fit in?
- What are the solutions and next steps?
What is the problem?
On the first point, the panel unanimously agreed candidates with both engineering and business skills were not readily available. This stemmed from a lack of market data awareness at universities and other places of training where would-be candidates prepared to enter the workforce, this was compounded by an industry trend where active teams were stretched thin with limited capacity to train and nurture new joiners. Emphasizing the stagnant pool of candidates, Paul noted how CJC struggled to fill a 2017-launched initiative known as “CJC Academy” which was initially designed to train and address the talent shortage to an extent.
Where do firms fit in?
The panel went on to identify several other underlying factors that influence whether a firm retains joiners, for example, company culture, hybrid function experiences, and generational perspectives. A member of the audience also highlighted that whilst data management skills were broadly available, the idea of market data management was still generally seen as a novelty within organisations and shifting this mindset is essential.
Regarding generational perspectives, Paul suggested being able to first define market data clearly to non-industry participants and, as the panel points out, circles back to building awareness and excitement at universities, or academic institutions. The central idea is to increase the market data industry’s exposure to prospective joiners.
What are the solutions being worked on and next steps?
On solutions, David asked the panel to suggest possible solutions about (a) attracting and recruiting, (b) nurturing and retaining, and (c) how to dissuade them from leaving. It was proposed to first make the organisation appealing and resonating with prospects via corporate values, principles, and company cultures. Next, aside from monetary gain, autonomy was also suggested, mastery of new skills, and purpose for creatives. Other members of the panel proposed igniting an interest in finance for young people in academic establishments and taking those young people for 10-week placements where they will be exposed to the different roles, applied skills, and industry networking, in addition to existing apprentice schemes.
Paul emphasized the primary need of defining market data to non-industry participants, followed by enticing people beyond academic organisations into the industry e.g., women returning from maternity leave that wishes to re-join the workforce. He also highlighted the need for an industry-recognised curriculum, like FISD’s examinations that joiners can use as a guideline with confidence and rotate between organisations, or teams, to nurture blended skills under industry veterans with adequate people management skills (interpersonal, upskilling expertise, and bandwidth or time to mentor). Like initiatives being discussed between CJC and Fidelity, where staff are rotated between organisations to enhance the exposure of various industry aspects. An expansion of individual initiatives like the previously highlighted “CJC Academy” to add variety to what was described as the more mundane tasks.
Members of the audience also suggested building a partnership between the business line and staff, instead of part of the process to build excitement within the industry, as well as building a working group to exchange ideas between different organisations. The conversation concluded as Paul highlighted the time constraints to train others and the need for a curriculum that equips necessary fundamental skills to industry joiners.
For more information about CJC Academy, or to get involved, please email: [email protected].