Technology drives change; this is confirmed by a cursory glance around us and a brief review of the changes to the ways in which we carry out a range of daily activities. Concurrently, the range of skills needed by industry has changed dramatically and an overwhelming majority of businesses have indicated recruiting the appropriately skilled workforce of tomorrow as a key priority and potential barrier to future growth. The digitisation of the financial services is no different and they too face a looming skills gap.
The view from the industry is that the digital skills gap presents a challenge to financial services at a time when the industry faces greater competition from agile and innovative start-ups and the ongoing demands of tech renewal and the re-engineering of their own institutions. Incumbents and fintech start-ups alike can no longer assume that the financial services industry will attract sufficient tech talent across all categories. The yet undetermined post Brexit settlement adds another layer of uncertainty about the future talent pipeline.
Beyond the traditional challenge of attracting the best and the brightest, which has always existed, is the changing nature of work itself and the changing demands of the future workforce. It’s not just about cappuccino and ping pong tables but a more fundamental shift in working culture and working practices.
Much has been made of the gig economy as an outcome of the growth of the sharing economy. Using and paying for only what you need – whether a car/house/office space – has driven significant change in how we view ‘ownership’ and, concomitantly, employ a workforce. The change goes both ways however and the next generation of the labour force may well have a different view on the desirability of a permanent role with one employer.
Some employers view this change as a key driver in how the future talent pipeline is secured. Collaboration between the private and public sectors (government agencies, educational institutions, trade bodies etc) will be necessary to support and create multiple pathways into industry across all socio-economic groups – diversity is a must. Beyond that the financial services industry must focus on creating pools of talents from which they pull rather than a permanent workforce that commits itself to years at one institution. It is the shift from a job focus to an emphasis on building relationships.
Pol Navarro, TSB’s Digital Innovation & Transformation Director says: “The idea that innovation can help accelerate the next generation of financial services for customers is why Fintech is appealing and exciting – combined with the rapid adoption of new enablers like Data, AI or Open Banking. Despite this the industry is facing a skills gap of over 670,000 positions by 2020. We need technology and talent moving in tandem, one can’t happen without the other. It’s essential we create environments that allow the next generation of passionate Fintech professionals to work in a more flexible a creative way to design services for our customers.”
Tomorrow’s tech employee may have relationships with a broad range of firms in different industries, picking and choosing the projects that work for her based-on interest, need and timing. As with any lasting long-term relationship both parties will have to make changes over time to accommodate changing needs and this is where the working culture of the firm becomes so crucial. Flexibility, transparency and creating supportive environments will become essential attributes for firms whose success hinges on building the best pool of tech talent.