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October 8, 2019

Three challenges financial services companies must overcome to build the workforce of the future

Rapid technological advancement is creating unfamiliar workforce challenges for organisations in the financial services industry. Patrick Luther, Principal, Financial Services at Ceridian outlines how companies can overcome three prominent workforce challenges by adopting a people-centric approach.


The effects of evolving consumer behaviors, workforce automation, and market disruption are changing the world of work. And the reality is that older, more established financial services companies are no longer at an automatic advantage. Fintech startups are quickly moving in and taking market share as they’re often able to meet clients’ demands faster and bring innovative products and services to market faster.

While financial services companies are putting more focus on digital innovation and next-level client experiences, it’s my belief that they’re overlooking a key aspect of their business: their people, the drivers of change and transformation. The workforce is becoming even more important to the success of financial services companies, particularly in an industry where personalised customer service remains a crucial differentiator in a competitive market.

Financial services leaders will need to rethink their current talent and workforce strategies in favor of a more people-centric approach. Here, I outline three challenges getting in the way of building a winning next-gen workforce, and how to overcome them:

Challenge #1: The acute skills gap in financial services

A 2018 World Economic Forum report suggests that while nearly 1 million jobs will be lost due to automation by 2022, another 1.74 million will be gained. According to the report, future jobs are expected to be more robot-assisted and data-driven than in the past, but importantly, they will also likely require more humanistic skills like critical thinking to solve more complex business problems.

Solution: Overcome the skills gap with flexible learning

Change is happening quickly – faster than the talent pool and the education system that feeds it can adapt. Organisations will need to focus on reskilling their existing workforces to close the gap: In fact, by 2022, no less than 54% of all employees globally will require significant re- and upskilling

Companies should consider designing flexible and personalised learning systems that will allow employees to build the skills they need more quickly. A good example of this is microlearning, which is bite-sized learning in the form of short, skill-building videos pushed from smartphones, or daily tips shared by team leads. 

Challenge #2: Retaining talent in a competitive job market

By 2025, 72% of the global workforce will consist of millennials, and their aspirations and attitudes toward work will continue to shape the workplace in new ways. As the culture and environment of startups entice people to join their companies, financial institutions will need to work harder to retain talent.

Solution: Provide a competitive employee experience 

Fifty-six percent of employees feel their employer should understand them as well as they are expected to understand their customers. The modern workforce is increasingly favoring more personalised, relevant experiences, and it’s up to us to deliver on this to retain the talent we need for the future of work.

We must rethink the experience we’re creating for our financial services workforce. Banks in particular have invested huge amounts of money in creating a more digital consumer experience. Unfortunately, they haven’t invested similarly in like experiences that are relevant and personalised from an HR standpoint. Organisations should consider providing a “consumerised” experience that puts the employee front and center. For example, providing an online tool that recommends the right benefits plan based on the employee’s answers to questions. This can make it easier for employees to enroll in the company’s benefits program with the right package for their individual situation.

Related: Consumerising the employee experience: How best-in-class companies create an experience employees really want

Challenge #3: Attracting younger generations of talent

It’s common knowledge that the competition to attract and hire top talent in all industries is fiercer than ever before. Finance organisations are no longer just competing with other companies in our industry, but also against technology firms and startups. Simply put, today’s top talent doesn’t want to work at an organisation that’s outdated and bogged down by old ways of doing things. In fact, a quarter of CEOs in PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey say that to gain access to a continuing supply of skilled employees, attracting younger workers is one of their biggest challenges.

One thing to note is that this generation of talent is more “reputation-conscious” than the generation before. Traditional financial services companies that don’t update their technology, processes, and culture will collide with the modern ways of work, eventually causing talent erosion.

Solution: Modernise the company’s recruiting approach

Companies that are successful in attracting millennial and Gen Z top talent have modern employer brands. Apple and Google, for example, don’t let process and tradition hold them back from implementing forward-thinking workplace practices. This means that their culture is innovative and they’re showcasing this in recruitment messaging.

Further, a company’s investment in technology can either deter or entice top talent. Candidates don’t want to work for financial services organisations that are stuck in the past and running on clunky legacy systems. Organisations that integrate innovative technology tools into the recruitment process, or have employee-facing mobile apps for example, will signal to prospective candidates that the organisation invests in the overall employee experience. 

It’s more important than ever for organisations to adopt a people-centric approach to attracting, developing, and retaining the workforce of the future. Companies that integrate emerging technologies with their human workforce can increase efficiency, improve the client experience, and are better equipped to compete in the new digital world.

Download the guide, Investing in the Future to learn how to build a next-generation financial services workforce.

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