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Hiring the next generation of financial services talent

Shortages loom and new skills are needed

Deloitte recently surveyed financial services executives in over 20 countries to gain insight on the challenges and opportunities they expect to face in the next five years.

August 2, 2017

A blog post by Jim Eckenrode, executive director, Deloitte Services LP

One interesting takeaway from the survey was that some executives do not seem to be quite as consumed by risk and compliance issues as they had been in the past. This may be particularly true in North America, where more than 25 percent of senior executives we recently surveyed were expecting that the regulatory burden they are facing will be reduced in the next two years.

Instead, we are increasingly seeing our clients looking to get back to a growth mindset. For example, I attended a recent meeting where executives of global firms shared their views in panel discussions. The growth theme appeared in their comments, with one executive claiming that “no company should have a strategy of shrinking to greatness.” But how to get there?

The path to growth typically is paved with new developments in channels and products, along with improved service levels and better targeting of offers. But talent is needed as well. As our surveyed executives thought about the changes that were coming to their industry, over one-third of them identified talent shortages as a top-three issue they and their leadership would be dealing with to confront these changes.

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Talent: more of the same?

Is it just an issue of more of the same kinds of people? Not exactly; it’s actually a mix of hard and soft skills that financial institutions are likely to need moving forward. To this point, a recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that “financial institutions need more technically adept, visionary talent if they are to survive the shift to the digital age and take the kinds of risks necessary for long-term success.”1 So, technical skills, combined with “the vision thing,” I guess.

Our executive perspectives support this notion. The conference panelists discussed the kinds of talent they are focusing on obtaining. One mentioned that they are looking for more skills in data and analytics, and focusing on those with engineering degrees. And in our survey, talent shortages are forecast in innovation, product development, and information technology as well.

But it’s not just technical talent that financial service industries seek; other “different” (at least, in the financial services industry) skills are increasingly in demand.

One banker panelist was surprised to come across a group of colleagues working on a problem, all of whom were recent graduates of a local college of art and design. And surveyed executives also cited global experience as a key (though less so in North America), and over half of insurers surveyed mentioned the capacity to anticipate change as an important attribute in new hires. Other panelists echoed this perspective, as they shared their belief that “organizational agility is required for transformation of the industry,” and emerging talent needs seemed to be a repeating theme in developing that agility.

Finally, evolving work styles and expectations—especially among younger workers—were top of mind for our executives. One panelist noted that financial services firms “need people who can adapt to the ‘gamification’ of work,” and another expressed the opinion that his firm was itself adapting to younger associates’ philosophy of “work-life fusion,” versus the more commonly-cited “work-life balance.”

Over half of insurers surveyed mentioned the capacity to anticipate change as an important attribute in new hires.

A need for technical and big-picture thinking

Ultimately, it seems to me that, as the financial services industry is beginning to shift back to growth mode, the need for a combination of technical and big-picture thinking will emerge alongside. Four years ago, I wrote a post on this very blog that posited that financial institutions needed more “right-brained” types who are long on creativity and vision to work alongside the technical and analytical “left brain” talent they have in abundance. Perhaps this shift to growth is the catalyst needed to effect this shift.

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How are you adapting to a rapidly changing world in pursuit of growth? Where does talent play a role in your planning? Do you see a mix of hard and soft skills as critical for future success?

Nadeem Shaikh, “The Financial Industry Needs to Start Planning for the Next 50 Years, Not the Next Five,” Harvard Business Review, July 17, 2017

QuickLook is a weekly blog from the Deloitte Center for Financial Services about technology, innovation, growth, regulation, and other challenges facing the industry. The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not official statements by Deloitte or any of its affiliates or member firms.

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