Thriving financial recruiters hit the acquisition trail

Betsy Williamson, founder and Managing Director of Core-Asset

A THRIVING recruitment and headhunting specialist has started its own talent search – as it eyes up acquisition possibilities to help it crack Scotland’s burgeoning fintech sector.

Core-Asset Consulting is a dominant name in recruiting for the country’s finance, asset management, accountancy and legal sectors, and has already established a foothold in fintech, the disruptive field where technology is developed to automate and improve financial services.

Scotland has emerged as a prominent fintech hub, with more than 60 start-up companies creating value to the economy. Existing financial giants have also created major in-house technology teams. The ecosystem is supported by the country’s top universities as well as a network of tech centres and bodies like Codeclan in Edinburgh, an award-winning digital skills academy.

As an emerging sector it is extensive, disrupting traditional models of payments, insurance, banking, personal finance and lending. It also covers a host of newer areas such as cyber security, big data, artificial intelligence, crypto-currency and blockchain technology.  Jobs in fintech include analysts, software engineers, apps developers, data scientists and infrastructure developers.

Founded in 2005, Core-Asset is now a 30-strong team and delivered its best ever results in 2018/19. The company’s last set of annual accounts at Companies House, demonstrates a turnover of £14.7m and profit of £500k. It has ambitions to make further fintech inroads and believes this will be best served by acquiring existing IT and tech recruitment experts.

Betsy Williamson, founder and Managing Director of the business, said: “There are so many reasons that the timing is right for this – not least because the IR35 changes in tax law for contractors will hit squarely where small, specialist tech recruiters are conducting business.  Core-Asset is IR35 fit beyond anyone else. 

“IR35 is likely to have a major impact on them and they will be taking some serious financial hits unless they have gone through the large amounts of work need to get into shape for it. I strongly suspect there will be firms out there who’d love the chance to be part of Core-Asset for that reason alone.”

Betsy says her firm has been ahead of the curve in preparing for IR35 thanks to efforts of Director Mike Stirton, Scotland’s leading expert in the area. He joined the company in 2011. 

She added: “Whichever way you look at it, we are in an excellent place. Financially sound with a great cultural story to tell and our brand is very strong. We even have a floor available in our building which would be the ideal place for a new team to be based.

“Obviously we are doing our own research of the market, but we’d be extremely keen to hear from any IT or tech boutiques who could see themselves being a part of Core-Asset Consulting.

 “We are already incredibly well established in asset management, accounting/financial, investment operations and business services and these sectors already incorporate fintech in many guises. However, the next big area of opportunity is mainstream fintech. 

“We are financial sector experts and fintech – as the name suggests – is hybrid between the sector and tech.  Our current team understand the financial product side of fintech really well. However, we are seeking people that have a in depth understanding of programmers and coders.   We want to bridge those gaps and want an IT/tech team to plug straight into what we do here.”

The mum of two, believes Core-Asset Consulting has built an outstanding culture embracing flexible working. It was born out of Betsy’s desire to take the best of her experience of large corporate recruiters, applying the focus on infrastructure and training to a more sector-specialised business. She also owns the Georgian townhouse which is the company’s impressive HQ on Edinburgh’s Melville Street.

The firm carved its reputation within Scotland’s globally renowned asset management sector. However, the success of its model allowed it to expand across the wider financial services market. It now boasts dedicated accounting and finance teams and also works in Scotland’s thriving legal sector.

Core-Asset has also recently unveiled its eighth annual Industry Trends & Salary Guide, which has become a highly-anticipated must-read for Scotland financial and professional services sectors. The 2020 report will suggest that fintech is likely to be an important growth area for many years.

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