Rapid changes in technology and automation have brought the financial services industry to the precipice of what could be called the fourth industrial revolution. As a result, talent roles are changing drastically, which means attracting and reskilling employees with the right skills has become a strategic imperative.

The introduction of such technologies as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) is sweeping through the financial services industry at a rapid rate, bringing an unprecedented opportunity to drive the way talent will operate in the workforce of the future.

The fear of losing jobs to computerisation has been a concern for decades, but today’s financial services firms haven’t yet come to grips with the fact that they have to be prepared for the changing roles employees will have to take on as a result. And they have to move on this now.

But it’s not all bad news. The “higher functioning” roles talent will need to adapt to will actually help enhance operational efficiency while boosting positive customer experiences. It’s all about creating the right environment for both technology and talent to thrive.

Job loss versus changing roles: where technology and humans will intersect

For example, in the insurance industry, the need for human intervention may dwindle as software and analytics automate underwriting and claims processes. Real-time big data could supplement or replace assessment procedures traditionally carried out using historical data models. And, in addition, policy owners could supply their own damage reports using video, thereby eliminating an on-site appraiser visit.

Certainly, these changes could shrink the size of the traditional insurance workforce, requiring employees to learn new or enhanced skills. For example:

  • Underwriters will team with data scientists to leverage new and broader sets of data from both within and outside the company. Using this data, workers will be able to bring valuable insights to complex risk assessments.

  • Claims agents will become service advocates at the center of the customer experience. Using multiple technology channels will allow agents to better address customer needs with personalised solutions.

  • Product developers will become proposition designers, focused on developing and delivering outcomes that customers value by bringing engaging business models to life.

Accenture’s research shows that 62 percent of insurance employees are assessing digital skills, emotional intelligence and more for their futures. Accordingly, insurers need to identify the skills they require—and determine whether they can be developed in-house or need to be acquired.

Similarly, the nature of banks’ work is changing along with the skills required to deliver services. For example, over the past few years, 43 percent of brokers have shrunk their sales-trading workforce, but many are using technology to handle the same trading volumes. Increased regulation is standardising the role of traders, necessitating a broader skill set and potentially a different compensation package. New IT roles will emerge in service integration and cloud and client relationship management—roles where softer skills and the quality of personal interaction will be considered more important.

The digital revolution is certainly forcing new ways that talent and technology will partner to drive a financial company’s success. However, it’s important to note that while automation continues to gain a strong foothold in the work environment, there is a limit to what machines can do. The value of talent as part of the digital change will increase because people have the ability for contextual reasoning and abstract thinkingthings that machines cannot do. These human attributes can be fully maximised because of automation.

What’s needed for financial services firms to prepare talent for different roles?

Behavioural change is the first step. Leaders must adapt and work with their employees and incoming talent to bridge the divide between where the industry is now and where it’s headed. According to Accenture’s Harnessing Revolution report, specific actions are needed by leaders to shape and prepare the workforce along the entire talent supply chain. In short, these directives include:

  • Accelerating the reskilling of people
  • Redesigning work to unlock human potential
  • Strengthening the talent pipeline from its source

In addition, the Oxford Economics and SAP study entitled Workforce 2020: The Looming Talent Crisis, which canvassed 2,700 executive and 2,700 employees across 27 countries, reveals important global talent trends that can’t be ignored.

The study purports that if companies don’t adapt to the way the workplace is changing, they will suffer greatly. That’s why it’s crucial to embrace the diversity of generations and technological advances, and to realise that improving leadership skills and fostering an environment of continuous learning is paramount.
Financial services companies do not need to fear technology. But they do have to recruit, train and retain their employees accordingly in order to stay competitive in the digital era.

In my next post, I take a look at how “new thinking” can help financial services firms be successful in building a workforce of the future.

Until then, you may also be interested in reading
The Insurance Workforce of the Future: Why Will So Many Insurers Fail to Achieve Their Digital Potential?