Mind the gap | What’s next for financial services attraction and retention?

The financial services sector has suffered from a skills gap for some time with digitalisation playing a fundamental role. Estimates1 suggest that the pandemic has accelerated the process of digitalisation by five years – and competition for talent is only going to intensify.

Having the relevant technical knowledge and experience is fundamental to many job roles across sectors - and in the financial services sector, this is vital.

Megatrend predictionsfor the sector suggest that there will be significant upward trends in technical and digital growth, which we have already seen as a result of the pandemic, and the adoption of a future-based skills set will be necessary.

The financial services sector will undoubtedly increase its reliance on highly skilled talent at a time when automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are modernising services and driving the demand for specific skills as a result.

But where does this leave financial services companies struggling to fill these gaps?

The skills necessary to drive growth

The future of the financial services sector is reliant on the talent and skills of its workforce, but more importantly, those in leadership roles.

The sector has always had strong competition from fintech and traditional tech companies, meaning that many entry-level candidates and those who are in the early stages of their career that have the required expertise and more diverse technology experience are opting to work for companies such as Google, Amazon, and Apple.

This heightened competition for recruitment, also known as the war for talent, has seen a shift in what financial services companies would usually consider to be their competition.

Pressure to keep up with the acceleration of digital adoption places those at a senior level in a vital position as they may not have the skills necessary to keep up with increased digitalisation.

A survey of 80 leaders3 across the financial services sector found that 80% of interviewees mentioned data and technology as skills that required urgent attention in the boardroom and across the organisation.

These skills are divided into two dimensions.

First, technology skills and knowledge can be utilised by senior leaders to understand the wider developments in the world that drive customer expectations and reshape the competitive landscape in the sector. Secondly, in such a data-rich industry, being tech-capable is necessary to handle and analyse the data that is integral to decision-making.

How can financial services companies compete?

Job openings in banking have tripled4 in the last year and financial services companies are beginning to recognise the necessity of assessing their current recruitment and retention strategies for leadership and senior roles.

Much emphasis is continually placed on increasing salaries as a way to attract and retain the best talent, despite the fact that salary is no longer the sole deciding factor for top talent anymore.

First, financial services companies should consider the current scope of their talent pool. Many companies will be narrowing down their talent pool due to a lack of diversity in their recruitment initiatives. A homogenous workforce does not benefit the sector at a time when it requires innovation and consistency, which is even more necessary for leadership roles than mid-level roles – senior staff will give a company the ability to be flexible to the new opportunities arising from digitalisation.

The most successful organisations will embrace diversity and inclusion in their recruitment strategy and benefit from an 83% uplift5 in their ability to innovate, higher responsiveness to changing customer needs, and greater team collaboration.

Secondly, companies should consider which specific skills and competencies will help to execute their mission and business model, leaning towards a more future-oriented approach that is sustainable, rather than casting the net too wide.

And finally, the shift towards a multi-generational workforce requires a firm focus not just on inclusive workplace cultures, but also on the productivity and wellbeing of all staff, which is something that prospective senior leaders will need to address to manage team effectiveness.

Unlocking full leadership potential

Our mission at Amrop is to help shape sustainable success for companies, and most importantly, to be prepared for what’s next. As one of the world’s largest leadership and executive search consultancies, we recognise the challenges and opportunities that financial services companies face.

We use a proven set of bespoke tools and approaches for our trusted leadership advisory services to help individual leaders and leadership teams to fulfil their full potential and create sustainable, successful organisations.

Rather than having a narrow focus, we understand our clients’ strategic direction and work as their partner to provide a sustainable transformation journey that provides space for innovation.

Competing for talent shouldn’t come at the detriment of time and productivity, which is exactly why our leadership advisory service is designed to fill the gaps that a financial services company has without diverting attention from running the business.

You can future-proof your recruitment and retention strategy for key leadership roles and begin to innovate as a result of increased digitalisation, rather than compete on two fronts against talent gaps and digital transformation.

Change is already occurring – securing the necessary talent has never been more vital

1 https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-covid-19-has-pushed-companies-over-the-technology-tipping-point-and-transformed-business-forever

2 https://cityhr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Financial-Services-Skills-Taskforce-final-report.pdf

3 https://wp.financialservicesskills.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/OB_FSSC_Staying_ahead_in_a_changing_world.pdf

4 https://www.standard.co.uk/business/jobs-boom-london-recovery-summer-vaccine-b931330.html

5 https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/human-capital/deloitte-au-hc-diversity-inclusion-soup-0513.pdf


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