UCT ahead of the curve with new fintech short course for business

PRESS OFFICE: UCT Graduate School of Business

According to the recent Finnovating for Africa report released by media and research company Disrupt Africa, Africa is already home to more than 300 fintech startups, having raised almost US$100m over the last 2.5 years. But the industry is crying out for skilled professionals who understand the technology and are able to capitalise on its potential.

So says Dr Co-Pierre Georg, associate professor at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM) at UCT and convener of a brand new course on ‘Facing the Fintech Challenge’ at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB).

“The fast-moving financial services industry is facing major digital disruption. Emerging platforms and decentralised technologies are providing new ways to transfer value and analyse information, leading to increased competition from agile and innovative startups. This creates entirely new jobs, many challenges but also opportunities in the industry,” says Georg.

“To manage in this brave new world, financial services professionals need fresh insight, knowledge and practical skills.”

According to a new report from Aon, a whopping 83% of financial institutions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) fear their business is at risk of being lost to standalone fintech companies and 49% believe they are unprepared to adapt to innovation, with nearly a quarter saying they have suffered a monetary loss over the last 12 months as a result.

A different survey from Fintech Circle uncovered that 94% of financial services professionals suspect their colleagues of using buzzwords such as “blockchain” and “artificial intelligence” without understanding their meaning. Over half (60%) claim that such bluffing is a common occurrence.

“Organisations need to move fast to upskill their people and individuals who want to thrive in this industry also need to take ownership of their careers and ensure that the they are able to keep abreast of developments,” says Georg.

Georg, who is also credited with launching the first fintech degree in Africa through the UCT African Institute for Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM) and the co-hosting with Linum Labs of the continent’s largest blockchain hackathon, which took place in January, says that there is still a drastic shortage of courses and forums that are helping to plug this skills gap on the continent and more broadly. “This is in fact a problem that extends globally,” he says.

“We are in constant contact with industry leaders and are already seeing a change in demand for the type of employees the financial industry is hiring. In the past if you had an honours or masters degree in finance you could be fairly sure of a safe job for life. But this is changing – companies require people with more conceptual skills, specifically ones that combine finance knowledge with the right technical and data analytic skills,” says Georg. In addition, he says the need for an entrepreneurial mind-set is key.

He says the three-day ‘Facing the Fintech Disruption Challenge: Fintech for Financial Services Professionals’ course is designed for a wide array of people with no tertiary level maths training.

“The course will help people working in financial planning, auditing, governance, risk and compliance positions to prepare for the changes resulting from the new technologies. They will be able to understand and identify potential shortcomings in their own skills and training, so they have a clear path for future-proofing their careers and staying relevant.”

Facing the Fintech Disruption Challenge: Fintech for Financial Services Professionals runs in Cape Town from May 7 to 9, and in Johannesburg from June 4 to 6. For more information, please contact 0860 UCT GSB or email [email protected].