How Can Financial Services Industry Secure the Next Generation of Talent?

  • Matthew O’Neill, Industry Managing Director at VMware EMEA

  • 14.09.2021 06:00 pm
  • #financial #services

The financial services industry has lost its mojo. There was a time – in the not-too-distant past – where it was the place to work. But the industry that we know today is no longer the place young talent – driven by the opportunity to be part of a dynamic, technologically-leading working environment – clamour to join. Even the Fintech scene is ‘threatened by a potential skills deficit’. With limited fresh perspectives, energy and skills coming in, it’s on the brink of a talent crisis. Other sectors simply have surpassed the sector on the ‘cool’ factor.

There is a solution, and it comes from an unlikely source. The pandemic. It has forced companies, including those in the financial services industry, to change working practices. One in four of the UK’s financial services workforce have said they want to work at home permanently post-pandemic. And with people at the forefront of these changes, it offers a huge opportunity for the industry to re-think how it attracts, uses, and supports its people. 

But it’s going to require a more open-minded approach, which won’t be easy for an industry steeped in very traditional views and big on security and compliance. They must learn from the newer challenger companies that have been baiting the sector with new thinking, app-first approaches that have wooed the young for some time now. 

Indeed, this shift will be crucial to attract the next generation of talent. The chief executive of French lender Société Générale, Frédéric Oudéa, recently announced a new global policy to allow all French staff to work from home three days a week. He sees it as a recruitment advantage with “young talents” who “don’t see the world in the same way they did just two years ago”. In a similar vein, HSBC has decided to scrap the entire executive floor of its London HQ to remove the divide between C-suite office managers and everyone else. Both companies are showing that they realise the importance placed on flexibility and an inclusive culture by the younger generations and are looking at how they can introduce changes to make themselves more attractive to that talent. 

The right tools and technologies are crucial to enabling these changes. And to support that investment further, organisations should also consider how individuals can improve their digital skills. Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC) chief executive Claire Tunley recently stated that “investment in learning and developing is not keeping pace with the sector’s evolving needs”. By showing new talent that they offer them better development opportunities or the ability to work in a way that suits them, they are going to appear much more on the pulse. 

Mel Newton, Head of Financial Services People Consulting at KPMG UK put this perfectly, “flexibility is more than just allowing people to work from home on the occasional Friday. What the future workforce wants is personal choice”. So, to compete for the best talent, personal choice and flexibility is what financial services firms will have to deliver. 


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