Skills shortage tops fear rankings for financial services

By David Beach | 27 June 2018

New research indicates that 49% of financial services leaders rank finding the necessary talents and skills as their number one concern.

The research, carried out by Robert Half further reinforces similar reports that financial services is fast approaching a skills shortage crisis.

One such report from Innovate Finance projects a workforce gap of 3% by 2030, amounting to 3,200 highly-skilled workers, equating to a direct loss of £361m to the sector, largely exacerbated by Brexit brain drain.

In the UK, prime minister Theresa May has pledged to make 2,000 additional Visas available to attract overseas talent to the technology sector.

In a release, May said: “Our digital tech sector is one of the UK’s fastest-growing industries, and is supporting talent, boosting productivity, and creating hundreds of thousands of good, high-skilled jobs up and down the country.

“As we prepare to leave the European Union, I am clear that Britain will remain open for business. That means Government doing all it can to secure a strong future for our thriving tech sector and ensure people in all corners of our nation share in the benefits of its success.”

The report from Robert Half also indicated that Training and Development of existing employees came in as the fourth highest concern (32%), and staff retention at ninth with 27%.

But Fabian Vandenreydt, executive chairman of B-Hive, believes the problem lies at the root of recruitment, education.

“Part of the problem in the UK is that there are not enough new entrants into the workforce being trained in new profiles - such as cyber or blockchain - in the universities,” he says. “So you need to import talent. We’re talking quantity of new profiles rather than a few specialist and very good ones.”

B-Hive works with insurance and corporate infrastructure along with startups, public sector agencies and universities to better serve the European fintech market.

“We started to look at digital skill gaps last year to try and figure out from a European standpoint where FIs were looking to hire in their digitisation process.

“What we found was that some existing professionals in FIs need to be reskilled or their functions might even disappear and new functions might pop up - and new skillsets to go with it - triggered by digitisation itself.

““More and more frequently, banks are competing with the tech giants as well as exciting startups to hire the best data and AI specialists and the Financial industry needs to become more attractive,” Vandenreydt tells bobsguide.

This is felt more keenly in the insurance industry, that relies on career employees. That's according to Fabrice Bossart, CRO of AIG, who recently told bobsguide that disruptive tech firms, corporate restructuring and the thinning of middle management meant there was less of a clearly defined career path for graduates to aspire to causing significant experience gaps.

“Attracting the diverse talent needed to the insurance industry is a real challenge for us,” said Bossart “when you look at the pyramid of ages within the industry we’ve got a lot of experienced people exiting and the dilemma is how we replace them with a younger workforce with a dynamic skill set that is more suited to the current changing demands of business with less emphasis on specialising in a specific function.”

This is the dilemma that B-Hive seeks to address and how modern graduates might engage with the financial services successfully.

“Because technology is moving so fast the common characteristic a good entrant should have is the old yet true cliche, to learn quickly,” says Vandenreydt “I think they also need the characteristics of what I call ‘intrapreneurs’ - people who have the same determination as a founder of a small startup with that acute sense of business but able to adapt and work well in big organisations.”

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