The digital revolution is transforming how work gets done in most every industry. The financial services industry is no exception. In fact, many financial services firms find themselves facing the following three common challenges in developing the workforce of the future:

  1. Building agility into every aspect of the organisation.
  2. Adopting emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation.
  3. Reskilling and reshaping the workforce to align with future business needs.

While these challenges might seem daunting, there are steps firms can take to prepare for the workforce of tomorrow―today.

A deeper look at today’s workforce challenges

Most firms are familiar with the Agile methodology and the broader requirement to become more flexible and responsive in a constantly changing and highly competitive environment. However, many have had difficulty extending the Agile methodology and principles beyond the DevOps function. The good news is, a grounding in Agile methodology in one part of the organisation can provide the foundation for a step-by-step migration of Agile principles and practices to other parts of the organisation―until “agile” simply becomes a way of being.

There’s no doubt that by implementing emerging technologies like AI, robotics and automation, firms can become more efficient and can better serve customers. But the flip side of these technologies is what they mean to the humans who work alongside them―including those who fear being displaced by them. The fact of the matter is that digital technologies are for the most part intended to enhance human effort, not replace it. While some jobs will become obsolete due to these technologies, new jobs will arise, requiring new skills―skills that can be developed within the existing workforce.

Which leads to the urgency for firms to start doing exactly that―preparing the existing and incoming workforce now for the jobs of the future. Contrary to popular leadership thinking, many employees are eager for this transformation and embrace the notion of integrating new technologies into the workflow.

Things firms can do to turn challenges into opportunities

One of the most important things leaders can do to enable this transformation is to be very transparent regarding future plans, and to engage employees in the process. Employees are a valuable source of input regarding how new technologies can best be utilised. In fact, Accenture has had success in integrating new technologies into the workforce by incentivising employees to contribute to the conversation.

In staffing the organisation, leaders and talent management professionals should look for and encourage characteristics over specific skill sets. The workplace of the future will be an agile learning environment, in which employees must be able to quickly acquire new and necessary skills to meet changing needs. Adaptability will trump technical expertise in this new environment.

There is a new generation entering the workforce, and it’s bringing with it good news for financial services firms. While Generation Z, like the Millennial generation, is idealistic and eager to make a contribution, this generation is also practical-minded and willing to embrace the corporate environment. As true digital natives, this new generation of workers is not only comfortable working with technology; it also offers a valuable resource for discovering new and better ways to apply technology in the workflow.

Three things to do right now

Here are three things you can do right now to turn current challenges into opportunities:

  1. Get on the “front foot” by embracing the reality of the change that’s coming and understanding which areas of your firm can be supported by new technologies.
  2. Undertake a comprehensive job analysis as a basis for rethinking work―identifying what work needs to be done how and by whom.
  3. Begin reskilling your workforce right now.

For more detail about fostering a future-proof financial services workforce, please listen to this podcast.

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