How continuous learning builds an agile talent in financial services

Posted on Apr 04, 2019

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A skills shortage is threatening future growth and prosperity for companies in financial services. Leaders in the sector highlight finding people with the right skills as one of their biggest challenges. According to PwC, CEOs in financial services are now worried that their workforce might not be fit for the future, with 75% expressing concern about the shortage of digital skills.

But CEO concerns aren’t just about the shortage of digital skills. An alarming 91% also feel they need to strengthen soft skills such as creativity and emotional intelligence, which they see as essential for connecting with customers.

The report says that currently, strategies to build necessary capabilities are “falling short”. Having the right people in the right place has always been a challenge, but today, technological transformation and customer expectations are combining to make the task even more exacting. So is the changing job situation.

In the 2019 EY Banking Barometer survey, 86% of banks predict it will become increasingly difficult to recruit talent in the coming years. With the scarcity of talent, digitalisation and old job roles being replaced by more complex career paths, the report says banks will need to invest more in training and educational measures to build workforces with the appropriate skills.

The ‘A’ Team comes to the rescue

One of the answers is to create and maintain an agile, adaptable workforce (your very own ‘A’ team) across the organisation, through a programme of continuous learning. Upskilling-that-never-stops is the best way to plug the skills gap for good. It will ensure everyone is supported as they develop evolving tasks and roles.

According to Bersin’s continuous learning model, there are three phases that employees typically go through on a loop throughout their careers. These are immediate (what support do I need right here and now?); intermediate (what do I need to help me grow in my current role?) and transitional (what do I need to grow in my longer-term career).  There are four ‘E’ words at play in this holistic approach: education, experience, environment and exposure. In this way, informal continuous learning and self-development is happening all the time.

Continuous learning in action

The goal is to have a workforce that helps to keep your business at the top. A culture of continuous learning is essential for any financial services organisation looking to improve productivity and performance.

Continuous learning starts at the recruitment stage – and never stops. With a scarcity of skilled candidates, your onboarding offering must be top class.  

To recruit the best talent, you’ll need an attractive and easily accessible Learning and Development offering.  Digital pre-boarding and onboarding gets your new people off to the best possible start. Look outside the industry for inspiration, like the Global Online Induction programme at Specsavers, the international optician business. We helped Specsavers create an inspiring introduction to their company and culture while enabling the company to offer pre-boarding for the first time so new recruits could choose to complete the induction module before they started. As a result, 71% of new employees who responded to a survey said they’d voluntarily completed the onboarding programme before their first day.      

After you’ve recruited the right people, you’ll want to develop and retain them. Tech is helping to create updatable continuous learning that’s tailor-made for the individual’s learning needs and also aligned to business needs. There are further tools and technologies that minimise the impact on daily workload too. For example, Microlearning can offer people small daily bites of learning content to build their knowledge and skills over time.

Conclusion

An agile and adaptable workforce is not possible without continuous, career-long learning. With the speed of change today, any gap will grow rapidly and make your employees’ skills out of date before you know it. Financial services leaders are rethinking talent strategies to meet evolving skills demands, with digital learning playing a significant role in mitigating talent challenges.

For those who have yet to add digital training to their learning programme, there is mounting pressure to modernise their learning to empower and equip people for the accelerating pace of workforce transformation.

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