The financial services industry is on the cusp of a skills crisis. The traditional workforce at most banks and insurers is ageing and struggling to make a transition to a world of digital consumers and channels. At the same time, financial services organizations are finding it challenging to attract younger employees who have the digital and technology skills they need to thrive in today’s landscape.

According to The Hartford’s 2015 Millennial Leadership Survey, only 4 percent of Millennials (ages 18-34) are interested in a career in finance. Likewise, a glance at the 100 most in-demand employers on LinkedIn reveals that there are few financial services firms on the list, which is dominated by technology companies and consumer brands.

Over the course of my next few blog posts, I’ll reflect on how banks and insurers can craft new employee experiences and value propositions that can make them more attractive to today’s best young talent. First, however, I’d like to consider some of the reasons why financial services has lost its luster as an employer of choice for millennials.

Like many other challenges in the industry, part of the reason lies in the financial crisis of 2008 and the damage it caused to public trust in and perceptions of banks and insurers. Since then, the negative publicity has hardly abated, with a direct impact on the ability of banks and insurers to recruit top talent.

At the same time, the industry is not keeping pace with way that digital natives are changing the workplace. Most traditional financial services organizations have not aligned their processes, practices and values with the working styles and aspirations of today’s young, digitally-savvy employee. The result is that the best youthful talent looks towards industries that better align with their values and the way they work.

Where 88 percent of millennials would prefer a collaborative work-culture to a competitive one, the workplace remains largely hierarchical. Some 74 percent want flexible work schedules, yet most banks and insurers are rigid about working hours. And where millennials say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place, banks and insurers are struggling to convince that they share this goal.

To thrive in an era of digital disruption, a bank or an insurer needs to reshape its workplace into an exciting and appealing place for employees with skills in areas such as risk management, cybersecurity, regulatory compliance, digital media and customer experience.

Thus, financial services organizations are under significant pressure to craft new employee value propositions that capture the imagination of the millennials that make up a large and growing segment of the workforce. In my next post, I’ll look at how financial services firms can reposition their employer brands and value propositions for the digital era.

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