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Ed Price, Head of Finance, Experis UK & Ireland

The financial services world is on the cusp of the next wave of disruption. Last year’s largely unexpected global political results have caused continued uncertainty, with the full repercussions of the UK’s EU Referendum vote and Trump’s election victory as yet unknown. Meanwhile, the digitisation of banking services has resulted in more complex,automated processes and roles, coupled with the emergence of smaller, niche fintech players, who are quicker to adapt to the changing market.Within this environment, traditional financial services organisations are struggling to attract and retain the top talent.What can be done to bring in the right skills and people to ride out the next wave of disruption?

Gen Y: Digitally-savvy and differing workplace motivations 

If you look at the market in which traditional financial services organisations are operating in today, it’s no surprise that they’re struggling to bring in people with the right skills. Millennials entering the financial services world are more technologically fluent than previous generations. Broadband, social media and mobile technology are all old hat to them, and as a result, they’re being pulled towards the fun, quirky, digital-first start-ups that are taking hold in the market. In recent years, we’ve seen new entrants like Monzo and Atom Bank who are at the cutting edge of the technological revolution taking place in banking. Armed with a desire to make a positive contribution to their employer’s business, millennials are less driven by the sky-high salary and benefit packages that banks have traditionally relied on to draw in the best talent. And, while some individuals will always be motivated by making money, there is now less appeal for overseas workers to relocate to the UK, thanks to the weakened pound reducing remuneration packages.

In addition to these workforce challenges, technology is having a negative impact on how some potential candidates perceive the finance world. Many complex processes –that have traditionally been carried out by human workers –are starting to be automated; leaving some with the fear that their skills are no longer relevant for the financial services sector. But, with digital transformation comes new jobs and skillsets; such as big data, cloud, IT security and mobile web development, which, as shown in our latest Tech Cities Job Watch research, are in more demand than ever before. So what must these organisations do to attract this talent?

What to look for in new recruits

Many of today’s banking customers speak the language of technology. They don’t want to spend their lunch hours queuing in branches, but rather, want to be able to access their account details in their pocket. In response, banks are becoming more like software houses, and need the technical know-how in their teams to keep up with the changing demands of their customer base. This is the case from entry level right up to the C-suite, so candidates need to demonstrate a strong digital background, alongside the same core accounting skills that have always been required.

On top of this, soft skills, such as persuasion, argument and emotional intelligence, are becoming much more important than they were previously. In response, financial services organisations need to focus their attention on finding employees who can demonstrate a desire and ability to learn new skillsets to ensure they can adapt quickly and move with the fast-paced market. 

How to retain top talent

Once employers have brought in the right candidates, retention is the next challenge. The following processes will help to keep retention rates high:Focus on variety and mobility

To keep employees energised and engaged, employers should create a working environment that encourages staff to be involved in multiple projects across the business. With different assignments requiring different skill-sets, this exercise is designed to widen their understanding and professional experience, and keep them motivated.

  • Have regular career conversations

Employers should focus on giving their staff near-term objectives and implement plans to achieve them. By encouraging managers to arrange weekly meetings with their direct reports, individuals can talk openly about their main priorities, challenges and goals, but also discuss relevant industry news and developments that the business should address. It’s also important to make them feel part of the success of the organisation, and allow them to contribute ideas.

  • Provide continuous opportunities to up-skill

Employers should ensure they’re providing supportive training and development programmes to enable their staff to up-skill. Individuals should be encouraged to take every opportunity to learn and be curious about everything – reading as much as they can. Completing the latest industry-certified courses will also help them to enhance their personal development.

  • Embrace a more flexible workforce

Employers should anticipate and forward plan to ensure their workforce can be flexible, and scaled up or down to meet future talent needs. This will enable them to bring in different skills and transfer knowledge between different people at different times. It will often include a combination of permanent, short-term contractors, Employed Consultants, off-shoring and outsourcing.

To stay ahead in the market, organisations need to future-proof their workforce skills and give their employees career security. If both of these requirements are addressed, they will improve engagement, retention, speed to competency and ultimately, the bottom line.