Solving the digital skills gap in banking and finance

06 October, 2021Carolyn Blunt

Covid-19 has accelerated the move to digital banking and finance, leaving financial firms with a huge skills gap to fill. Carolyn Blunt of the Davies Group looks at the challenges this presents to the industry and why banks must invest in people as well as tech.

neon electric beams on black backgroundTechnology is affecting financial services in a multitude of ways. The pace of change is increasing and shows no sign of slowing, leaving organisations with two choices:

  • lead the charge and make sure they have the right listening capabilities and agile architecture to be a ‘fast follower’, or
  • watch others take advantage of a generational shift.

Banks have done a superb job over the course of the pandemic of adapting to meet the rapidly changing needs of customers. They’ve largely risen to the challenge of identifying and supporting vulnerable customers.

But banks are finding it difficult to fill tech roles as other parts of the economy compete to recruit talent with technological skills.

As a result, they are struggling to assemble the kind of teams that can apply and exploit new disruptive technologies to:

  • better understand customer needs and meet those needs with the right products and services
  • promote new digital services to encourage customers to use these channels
  • proactively call customers to deepen relationships
  • resolve tricky complaints.

Investing in people

Financial firms around the world are spending huge sums modernising their technology systems. They’re investing to boost innovation and automating to drive down costs. They’re also adapting the user experience to meet the rapidly changing expectations of their customers.

But they need to pay more attention to how humans and digital labour can work alongside each other. If they don’t, no amount of digital investment can help them fully attain their new financial and productivity goals.

In an increasingly digital world, success depends on the workforce upskilling. That means developing both hard technical skills as well as softer skills, like communication and presentation.

Recent research from McKinsey shows that redeploying and upskilling staff is 20% more effective than 'hiring and firing'. Given the shortage of candidates with the right tech skills, this makes sense.

As well as being cost-effective, upskilling the workforce – and investing in learning and development – is good for staff morale. It nurtures staff loyalty, improves collaboration and helps futureproof in the long term.

But the task is huge. So how can a bank or financial institution fill a skills gap to address needs in the short term?

For many banks the answer will be to partner with a training body who can help identify and fill skills gaps relatively quickly. Outsourcing to a dedicated training provider is an efficient way to support your HR capacity at a time when your need for training is urgent and large-scale.

Upskilling workforce capabilities around digital technology gives staff new skill sets. When combined with the right product and service innovations, these will help financial organisations leverage disruptive technology across different areas and secure a brighter future.

Carolyn Blunt
Carolyn Blunt is a Growth and Client Success Director at Davies Group. An L&D professional, author and industry speaker, she’s been directing the design and delivery of learning programmes for more than 20 years. As a Fellow of the CIPD, she works with employers to identify and fill their learning gaps using apprenticeship levy funding.

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