Fishing for talent on in troubled tech/startup space

BENGALURU: Banks, shadow banks, insurers and broking firms are scooping up talent from companies in the technology and startup space that are facing continued uncertainty, to primarily build their digital and tech capabilities.

Recent months have seen a slew of mid- and senior-level executive movements from tech companies and startups including Paytm, Byju’s, Swiggy, Upstox, EnKash, Lendingkart, PayU, Myntra and Flipkart to organisations such as Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank, HSBC, RBL Bank, IDFC First Bank, Bajaj Finserv, Angel One and Mahindra Finance.

Most of these movements have been in engineering, tech and digital roles.

“These banks and financial institutions have been trying to attract this talent pool for a while now as they build new-age technology and go digital, but markets have now turned in their favour,” said Anuj Roy, managing partner of executive search firm Fidius Advisory.

“Tech/startup professionals are seeking stability. These companies, on their part, are paying good money and offering more cutting-edge work than earlier to attract them. There’s been a sea change in jobseekers’ attitudes – professionals are much more amenable now to moving to bigger financial institutions,” Roy said.

The startup story has lost part of its sheen for some time now, said Pranshu Upadhyay, regional director of Michael Page India. A lot of talent, especially at fintech firms, is also relevant to large financial institutions that are looking to strengthen their digital presence. There has been an 18% increase in the number of such placements this quarter, compared to the one before, he said.

Tapping talent:

Milind Nagnur, chief technology officer at Kotak Mahindra Bank, told ET that of the 500-plus tech employees it hired over the last year, around 70% were from tech companies and 15-20% were from startups.

“We endeavour to be a tech-driven bank. Towards this vision, we are actively building an in-house engineering team with deep capabilities in mobile apps, backend micro services, distributed databases, data analytics, AI and ML, right from software development engineers, software product managers, technical program managers to domain experts,” said Nagnur.

IndusInd Bank has also been actively engaged in talent acquisition efforts from the technology and startup sectors over the past year, said chief HR officer Zubin Mody.

Holistic approach is key:

“As a talent set that most closely represents the future of work concept, techies expect flexible work, access to the most current technologies and an environment that encourages innovation,” said Nagnur. “So, beyond competitive salaries and perks, we offer an opportunity to work on innovative tech projects, agility and speed to operate in a fast-paced environment and faster decision-making which keeps tech talent challenged and engaged.”

“Recognising the exceptional talent pool within tech companies, we have strategically sought out individuals with unique skill sets and diverse experiences,” said Mody, adding that the bank selectively provides stock options to such employees based on specific requirements. IndusInd has hired for roles such as full stack engineers, treasury support, calypso specialists, DevOps/cloud engineers, salesforce experts, API specialists and technical architects, among others.

Roy said while many of these companies do not give ESOPs, compensation is competitive on the cash component and professionals are moving at hikes of 10-25%. Salaries are at Rs 2-3 crore and beyond for top-level talent, going up to even Rs 5 crore in some cases.

“These companies are mature. They know that if they short-change people, there’s a risk of them moving out when the market improves,” said Roy.

However, sometimes there is some hesitation on the ESOP component, Upadhyay said. “Candidates with higher risk appetite partnered with fintechs or startups because they were interested in growing fast. So, in some individual cases, ESOPs become an issue (when they move to finance companies). However, overall, there is a definite uptick as stability becomes key.”

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