According to a report on Tuesday, fintech firms are struggling to recruit top talent as Britain prepares to depart from the European Union at the end of March. 

The report added that activity in the £ billion-growth sector may need to be halted, amid other EU members ramping up competition, Reuters reports. 

Recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson and the Fuelling Fintech report from TheCityUK, which endorses the UK as a financial hub, both stated that fintech and other financial services companies must strive to safeguard the required skills. 

The fintech sector is home to 60,000 jobs, with investment surging 154% in 2017. 

The report also provides means to generate more “home grown” tech talent, as immigration will be limited following Brexit. 

Chief executive of TheCityUk Miles Celic said: “Since the Brexit vote in June 2016, there has been a significant decrease of graduates coming to the UK from France and Germany in particular.”

In recent years, up to one fifth of all required skills has been supplied by EU states. UK employers are now witnessing a net migration of tech graduates flocking back to the bloc. 

Firms are now faced with the challenge of employing people to fill roles in coding, cloud computing, machine learning, software development, cyber, artificial intelligence and blockchain, the report stated. 

“There is a risk that those talented migrants with the skills needed by the UK will leave before these skills can be replaced by home-grown talent,” Celic added. 

The report proposes that fintechs mimic the tactic adopted by pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, by forging long-term contracts with academia to establish a pipeline of skilled workers, also looking beyond graduates.

Improved gathering of data on the required skills and better retraining of existing employees are also a necessity, the report said. 

In recent years, the UK has surfaced as a key fintech hub, but with Brexit looming, Britain’s leading sector now faces increased competition from major EU cities such as Berlin, Paris and Luxembourg, all of which provide access to the EU’s vast single market. Britain’s access to the bloc’s market could remain uncertain for the near future. 

According to Nathan Bostock, chief executive of Santander UK bank and chair of TheCityUK’s working group on trade and investment: “The current shortage of tech talent is a strategic issue for the UK’s financial and related professional services industry, yet little has been done to quantify our current and future skills need.”