The financial services industry has undergone major changes within the past few years, primarily due to the impact of new, data-driven technologies. However, the makeup of their workforce has remained rather static, which has caused a phenomenon dubbed the “financial services talent gap.” This isn’t a niche issue – over 54 percent of employers have indicated that the digital talent gap has hampered digital transformation initiatives, causing them to lose their competitive edge.
However, financial services organizations cannot continue to let their smaller, more agile counterparts get the better of them. As technology becomes more commonplace in the financial services industry, the need for skilled workers will continue to rise. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to determine exactly what these skilled workers would look like. Let’s take a look at four skills and resources that should be sought out when attempting to close the financial services talent gap.
1. Establish Collaborative Capabilities Across Departments
Historically, financial services organizations had heavily siloed departments – and while many industries have focused on breaking down communication barriers between departments, financial services are falling behind in this regard. FinServ institutions need to understand that before you can get a complete, 360° view of what their customers need, they need to get a 360° view of their business’s internal operations.
For example, imagine that a bank asks a few departments to come up with ways to drum up new business. The marketing department may want to focus on reaching more students, while product managers want to provide more competitive rates, while IT wants to optimize the online banking app. Instead of each department pulling in different directions, FinServ organizations should give them the tools to collaborate and combine their ideas effectively.
Financial services institutions can resolve this problem in a few different ways. First, ensure your employees have the right skill sets and collaborative tools to communicate their ideas with every necessary party. If that doesn’t produce satisfactory results, temporarily rotate employees into different departments – like letting a member of the marketing team attend meetings with the finance team. This will help them better understand each other’s requirements, fueling more effective collaboration in the future.
2. Stay Current With Modern Technology Trends
According to the 2018 CFO Signals Survey, 63 percent of respondents believe that they will demand analytical, predictive, and decision support skills out of their financial workforce in the coming future. Financial services organizations will need advanced analytical technology in order to gain these capabilities, and further communicate why these capabilities are important.
To take full advantage of data within your organization, it’s necessary to move away from legacy attribution models like Media Mix Modeling or Multi-Touch Attribution. Instead, organizations need to adopt Unified Marketing Measurement (UMM), which combines the best traits of these attribution models by leveraging a digital marketing platform. According to Forrester, UMM improves the efficiency of marketing budgets by 15 to 20 percent, although some brands have reported a 30 percent improvement in budget efficiencies. This is because it doesn’t only help marketers craft well-targeted, personalized messages – it also helps them understand the customer journey.
3. Focus on Person-Centric Marketing Optimization
As of 2018, about 75 percent of the largest banks in the world wanted to transform their operations to focus more on the customer experience. One bank that did this concluded that a good customer experience makes a customer 5 to 8 times more likely to recommend their bank to a friend as opposed to someone that had a negative experience. With fierce competition in the industry, winning the respect of consumers will give you a serious edge.
Financial services need to move away from a sales or product focused mindset, and focus on a customer-centric approach. The process to attain a customer-centric attitude isn’t intuitive, however – between ATMs, mobile banking, direct deposit, and a limited need for physical cash, banking is more impersonal than ever.
Simply having friendly tellers won’t be sufficient. To optimize the customer journey, marketers need to analyze online and offline interactions at the person-level. This will help them understand an individual’s purchase motivators, buying behavior, and underlying preferences. Then, the organization as a whole can optimize their messaging and offerings based on a data-driven marketing approach and apply the insights at a microsegment level.
4. Find Creative, Flexible Workers
The financial landscape has been shifting for decades, and shows no indication of steadying. While it’s useful to find communicative and technologically literate employees, creativity and critical thinking skills will always be in demand. With a technologically-focused industry like financial services, it’s important to find employees that never pass up an opportunity to learn.
However, the need for flexibility and creativity doesn’t begin and end with employees – the C-Suite needs to adopt these attitudes too, or else they may not recognize these positive soft skills in employees. Additionally, they may not be receptive to out-of-the-box thinking. CFOs, CMOs, and other members of upper-level management should consider implementing these measures in their organization:
- Mentoring: You can teach an old dog new tricks – and your youngest employees are likely willing and able to teach their older coworkers about new technology. At the same time, older workers can share valuable knowledge and wisdom with the younger employees. When minds meet in this way, it provides a catalyst for new ideas.
- Encourage Side Projects: Upper level management should let their most promising employees work on side projects that may be outside of their job scope, but still tangentially related to the organization. This will help them learn new skills, and they will gain a fresh perspective about how other areas of the organization work.
- Better Hiring: Don’t post vague job offerings that only ask for hard skills and qualifications. Instead, indicate the soft skills you’d like in a role – such as teamwork skills, work ethic, or creativity. Or, look for employees that go above and beyond by attending conferences, or being part of a professional organization. Finally, don’t forget to provide competitive benefits to bring these high-value workers in!
At the heart of the financial services talent gap is a lack of understanding around data and the best way to use it. However, FinServ institutions don’t need to accept this loss, and trudge along until the right employees enter their organization. With the right technology, training, and attitude, they can help marketers do their job more effectively than ever before - ultimately bridging the FinServ talent gap.