Fintech is a hot topic in the Middle East at the moment. ADGM, DIFC, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are all looking to create eco-systems to support investment, innovation and growth in the Fintech market. Some great strides have been taken and we are seeing international companies look to grow regional offices and local businesses founding in the region.
This growth and investment are fantastic; however it needs talent to keep fuelling it, the industry is embryonic and although there is a lot of great talent in the GCC, it is not the same as for example, London, San Francisco, or Singapore.
Many of our clients are opening in the region for the first time, so apologies if you are entrenched in the region and some of this sounds obvious, but I thought it worth sharing. If you embarking on a recruitment campaign, I hope this is useful.
Firstly, one of the biggest differences is the freelance employment model is almost non-existent. You can get a “contractor” on a fixed term visa but they still can only work for you and you bare all the costs of their employment (Salary, Visa, Medical, Holiday, Sick Pay etc). If you are used to using specialists on an hourly/daily/weekly basis, this option just doesn’t exist in a significant way locally. Your options will be to use a consultancy or work with remote specialists from your existing network, or through sites like upwork (this is the model I use and found it works well).
If you need full-time tech talent, then there are some exceptional people in the region and in a recent Deloitte study, the region was rated as better than average for its proximity to talent. But if you want niche and leading edge skills, you may still be better served by identifying and relocating expat resources from one of the traditional hubs. The sub-continent is the most common destination for high quality and affordable tech talent and offers a cost effective and huge talent pool.
If that still doesn’t meet your needs, then the region is an attractive place for expats to live. This doesn’t come without its challenges though. Relocations take time and the cycle from identification through to start is far longer than hiring locally, there is also then the issues of the candidate bedding in and making the move a success for themselves and their families. Indeed, when we are working on senior appointments, often more time is spent on the personal side, arranging tours of houses, schools, pet relocation etc. than on the details of the role! If you don’t have an HR team in the country, it is impossible to provide quality information on all of the areas that a family need answers on before committing to a move.
In recent times, we have even seen a number of clients looking to relocate their development teams to the region and have the GCC as a main global hub, this acts as an alternative to offshoring development and support functions and allows the core business to be in one centre. Having a blend of nationalities and cultures really creates an environment where innovation thrives.
When you have identified your talent, there are a significant number of HR challenges and processes that need to be followed, I won’t go into those in detail here but please contact me directly if you have any questions about recruitment, hiring, relocation and all things Fintech in the region. We are a start-up organisation ourselves having just celebrated our 1st anniversary. If we can help any other companies grow through hiring, or just advice and building a network it would be great to hear from you.
Luke is the Co-Founder of Cander Group a specialised Financial and Technology Recruitment business based in Dubai.