Banks are actively headhunting for workers again, but they want specific skills

Key Points
  • Banks want specialists who understand the digital and "fintech" realms
  • "Huge" shortages of people with the desired skills afflict some regions, especially Asia
Are banks ready to take on fintech?
Are banks ready to take on fintech?

Banks are starting to headhunt actively again after years being fairly passive following the global financial crisis, a prominent recruiter said on Thursday.

This time however, their focus will be on digital and fintech staff, said Declan O'Sullivan, managing director of search firm Kerry Consulting.

The rising influence of digital and banking-specific technology — so-called fintech — is "really changing how banks themselves will organize their own recruitment functions," O'Sullivan told CNBC.

There was a huge supply of bankers after the financial crisis in 2008, but "that situation is changing in general as we flow out of that period," he said.

In demand are people who know how to work in the digital and fintech spaces, with "huge supply shortages, particularly in Asia" driven by a lack of people with the right skills, he said.

Banks thus have few options but go back to "to the age of active headhunting," said O'Sullivan.

The most sought-after workers are digital strategists, fintech professionals, data managers and cyber security specialists, he said.