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Addressing Future Skill Gaps in the Financial Services Global Ecosystem

By Jean-Marc Tassetto, CEO, Coorpacademy 

Coorpacademy’s Jean-Marc Tassetto explains why in the face of a future skills crisis in the financial services industry fun and cultivating curiosity should be an important part of the training mix

Jean-Marc Tassetto
Jean-Marc Tassetto

 The world is changing – at a pace many in business may find challenging. But it’s a race we cannot afford to lose.

Take the insights of just one stakeholder, Nathalie Bourquenoud, Head of Human Development at Swiss insurance firm Mobilière Group, who has said that, “With digitisation, the professional world is becoming more and more complex. To continue to be successful, we must adapt – which means accelerating decision processes regardless of hierarchy, working in multidisciplinary teams that don’t bother with organisation charts, and considering our processes no longer in a sequential, but in an iterative, way.

“Anything new must be put on the market very quickly, but also developed with our clients. To do this, our collaborators must be open to new things and to innovation, and be able to adapt easily to change. We must encourage them to develop what distinguishes them from a machine, in other words their creativity and social skills.”

Bourquenoud’s comments are on the money. Soft skills like creativity and social skills are becoming increasingly important in the financial services sector, which is contending with disruptive business models from non-traditional financial services firms, digital transformation, and growing demands from customers for a seamless, omnichannel experience.

At the same time, technology is disrupting the whole job market. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report points out that the eroding of the barrier between tasks carried out by humans and those by machines and algorithms is pushing the global labour market through an era of unprecedented change.

But acquiring proficiency in new technologies is only one part of the equation. Human skills such as initiative, persuasion, critical thinking and negotiation will increase in value alongside the ability to perform complex problem solving. After all, while automation, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robotics may be able to respond, analyse and predict against data they are fed, machines can’t deliver the empathy, compassion and creativity that a human is capable of.

Hence a focus back on the soft skills’ that help people better interact in the workplace and with customers and external stakeholders. Such skills are an essential prerequisite when it comes to leadership development, as well as helping engage employees in digital transformation programmes, for example, and inspire innovation. Soft skills essentially enhance all areas of an organisation.

New digital strategies are dependent on soft skills – and according toDeloitte, soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two thirds of all jobs by 2030.

Cultivating curiosity is key

 So, if the key to success in the digital age is to ensure that employees acquire or are re-skilled in soft skills alongside the ‘hard skills’ training required for their roles, how should a financial services firm address any shortfall? The most efficient way of doing this is to provide just-in-time, bite-sized training – and to say goodbye to long, formal training sessions that are too general to be personalised and not at all engaging to today’s learner.

To make training relevant and exciting, and deliver what the learning organisation of tomorrow needs, the learner needs to be at the centre of the learning experience. We’ll do that by personalising her learning journey, offering content she really needs, but also stimulating her curiosity. Bourquenoud has more to say on this front: “Continued training is extremely important for us; we currently have several projects for the digitisation of the training of our employees [and] the goal is for them to be able to learn anywhere, anytime, but also according to their needs and at their own pace.

“The meaning of the word ‘learning’ is changing. Knowledge is available everywhere, and we want to have fun in order to stimulate our curiosity!”

LXP technology and difference

This approach that can offer‘learning in the flow’ of work (as workplace learning influencer Josh Bersin puts it) is what we all need to move to. Modern workplace learning technology, or a Learning Experience Platform (LXP), should be deeply integrated with a job position, and directly useful to the learner.

LXPs work because they are good at offering modern workplace learning methods likemicrolearning, games, quizzes and videos, as well as social and collaborative features. For Bourquenoud, “[Our learners] appreciate this new way of learning with the digital learning platform; they have a large number of videos on different subjects at their disposal, they can start battles and answer quizzes.”

 The reason this approach is so effective is that linking learning with a fun experience is a good way of encouraging the development and practice of soft skills. Play and learning are both based on the desire to progress, to collaborate and to engage in a social experience.Neuroscience, for example, has shown us that play stimulates curiosity and the desire to progress, so engaging employees’ emotions will both capture their interest, and help them retain more information.

 Another financial services customer, BNP Paribas Asset Management, is another example of how new learning techniques, including pedagogical videos, online learning modules and games on a digital platform, can be used effectively and are easily adaptable for dynamic market environments, which are experienced by the financial services industry.

In this company’s case, BNP Paribas Asset Management has deployed the LXP approach across its entire global network to update the skills of its 12,000 strong workforce. Feedback from employees has been extremely positive, and the approach has been seen as much more user friendly than traditional online learning.

And finally another LXP convert is training firm Knightsbridge Trading Academy, which in association with the London Stock Exchange Group Academy, has developed a programme designed to improve investment strategy of trading floor executives. It uses an LXP approach to improve the quality of the professional education available to financial traders. Its CEO, James Lawrence, comments, “It’s a great concept, and allows users to digest smaller content in their own time, either during or after work hours. By using flipped pedagogy, learners start with the questions, so if they know, they pass the question, if they don’t, they access the video lesson. The fun and social aspect of the course also allows learners to access knowledge in a more engaging way, by competing with their peers on the different types of asset class, for example.”

The conclusion has to be that to build the kind of skilled global teams that can embrace and adapt to change at 21st century pace, financial services companies will need to put more emphasis on soft skills training as well as modern workplace learning technology and techniques.

Otherwise, they may lose out to disruptive companies who understand the coming power of a human approach in the digital marketplace.