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Preparing for success in 2021

Preparing for success in 2021 1

By Mark Dorman, CEO, SThree

As the banking and finance industry prepare to compete in the ‘next normal’, many are now looking at how they can emerge from 2020 stronger than ever. Some employers expect that they will have significant talent gaps to fill and skilled people will be a key differentiator when preparing for 2021. That’s why our purpose of bringing skilled people together has never felt more relevant than it does today.

Last month, we reached out to key clients across the STEM industries to learn more about their business priorities as we begin to think about ending an unprecedented year. While the early stages of the pandemic saw recruitment activity drop by between 30-50%, our latest data shows promising signs as we look to the future. With banking and finance being one of the industries reporting the most increased demand.

The insight also showed that while 75% of clients indicated that they are actively hiring in some way, 70% stated that finding the right talent is a challenge. This means that as much as candidates need to stand out, businesses need to also make themselves attractive to those who have the most in-demand skills.

In the current climate, three priorities have emerged across markets and geographies: accelerating digitalisation, building resilience into supply chains and the future of the workforce.

Even before the pandemic hit, the rise of disruption from FinTech start-ups was slowly increasing. At the same time, some financial organisations, with old legacy systems and highly detailed manual processes, were yet to be truly digitised and the incumbent players were only beginning to respond to digital needs.

Today, we have witnessed digital transformation plans with 18-month time frames being turned around in just one month because of COVID-19 – with digitalisation budgets being ringfenced by CEOs, CFOs, CTOs and COOs on a large scale.

The second priority is the talent to deliver on these strategies in tandem with consistently ensuring that network infrastructure is secure, reliable, and resilient as we move to a more digital future. Globally, banking and finance is a data-heavy industry with the additional, and unique, need to be constantly communicating across different geographies and markets at the same time.

Making sure you find and then keep the right skills

Some have argued that the pandemic has served as a watershed moment for the payments industry. In June, PayPal reported their best quarter ever and according to Capgemini’s World payments report 2020, 30% of consumers are now using large tech companies to make payments and 50% are already using challenger banks for some payments. 

As online retail continues to soar and physical stores seek contactless ways to take payments, no financial institution can get left behind.

The need for experts in platform management, data processing and cybersecurity to keep up with the consumer demand for contactless payments and subsequent customer data will only increase in 2021.

To keep up, employers will either need to consider tapping into new talent pools, including career switchers, remote workers and demographic groups that get hit disproportionately in economic downturns or become more competitive in compensation, benefits and protection against health risks to attract and retain the talent that will keep their business working.

Understanding the needs of a changing market, and taking the time to learn the skills

While banks enter a period of stasis, electronic market makers are increasingly moving into their territory, creating a brand-new opportunity for entrants with the right skills for a new reality.

For trading, Programming skills are increasingly important. The more that banks need fast data extraction, the more that programmers have become desirable, and many of these programming languages can be learnt for free online.

By taking the time now to understand what specialist skills are needed for the future, candidates will be future-proofing their careers in the industry.

As the data revolution continues to transform the banking and finance industry, it is imperative that candidates and businesses match skills to opportunity to stimulate growth in the sector. As businesses seek more specialists to plug their gaps and millions of workers worldwide seek to build their knowledge in an uncertain job market, being able to adapt to the industry changes has never been more important than now.

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