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5 reasons why developing digital skills is important for the UK’s financial sector

By 5th December 2023No Comments

The situation: Digital skills in finance

Did you know financial services ranks among the top three industries with the most pressing demand for digital skills?

In an age where technology’s reshaping every facet of our lives, it’s no surprise the financial sector’s undergoing a profound transformation. But there’s a significant challenge on the horizon: skills gaps persist, hindering the sector’s ability to keep pace with evolving demands.

And the research paints a stark picture.

Given the significance of analysing trends and growth patterns, managing cash flow, identifying risk, and making key decisions for the organisations they work for, it’s concerning that 29% of finance managers have little to no digital skills and they aren’t comfortable with AI. In the same study, 21% said slow user adoption of technology was the reason for finance’s hiring challenges.

Finance’s digital skills gap extends beyond individual careers, it has far-reaching implications.

According to the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC), the financial services sector employs over one million people across the UK, providing £173.6 billion of UK GDP, making it a major contributor to the UK economy. However, the tight labour market’s heightened competition for skills, with many of these roles being deemed hard to fill (as many as 50% in some firms).

Digital Literacy: The ability to consume and use digital tools and techniques to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information.

This is just 1 of 13 skills identified by FSSC members as a priority for their businesses in the coming years.

The solution: Upskilling

With a limited talent pool, could upskilling the existing workforce help sustain business resilience and drive innovation? Let’s look at five reasons why developing digital skills is vital to future-proofing the financial sector’s workforce.

Reason 1: Digitally empowered financial firms deliver sterling customer experiences

Customers want a lot from the companies they engage with.

Whether it’s banking services, accounting support, or mortgage advice, they demand interactions that are not only seamless but also personalised to their needs. This is where the role of digital skills is paramount.

From optimising user interfaces to leveraging data-driven insights, digital skills are the driving force behind building exceptional customer experiences.

A black credit card on top of a laptop keyboard

Reason 2: Tech adopters drive responsible digital transformation

Regulatory compliance is a constant challenge for financiers. The industry operates under a dynamic set of regulations, and where companies fail to meet compliance requirements, they’ll be subject to hefty fines and reputational damage. It’s a high-stakes game where firms must navigate a complex web of rules and requirements.

The struggle to meet compliance requirements often stems from increasing costs, inefficient operations, and reliance on outdated or complex technology that’s not fit for purpose.

As organisations look to adopt a wide range of technologies to develop more efficient, automated, and effective compliance, a focus on upskilling risk and compliance professionals is essential to reducing compliance burdens.

Where recruiting new talent to fill skills gaps is necessary, firms that have a strong reputation for responsible behaviour gain a competitive edge.

Reason 3: Progressive firms boost efficiency and cost savings

Technology has opened the doors for banks and financial firms, making it easier and more cost-effective than ever to digitise their operations and streamline processes.

Consider the power of automation through software and applications like Microsoft’s Power Platform. These tools excel at automating menial, time-consuming tasks, such as chasing receipts or inputting accounting data.

The result? Valuable staff hours are reclaimed. This time can be re-allocated toward more fulfilling and strategic tasks that add value to the business and foster greater job satisfaction across the organisation.

Automation can free up even more time for developing digital skills. It’s a virtuous cycle where digital prowess enhances operational efficiency, putting progressive finance firms at the forefront of the industry.

“Distributed data, systems, processes, and operational silos mean organisations struggle to obtain a view of their resilience, only identifying gaps when disruption hits.”

PWC, Global Crisis and Resilience Survey

Reason 4: Technology’s only one side of the coin for innovators

The cultural change associated with ‘going digital’ is often much harder to achieve than merely rolling out a new piece of tech.

To drive digital at scale, financial organisations must focus on the ‘people dimension’. This involves evaluating, identifying, and training employees based on their individual merits than just their years of experience.

It also means promoting a sense of purpose. People are motivated to innovate when they feel their work is tied to a strong sense of meaning, particularly when they feel their learning and actions will have a positive impact on the company and wider industry.

Reason 5: Future-focused firms see investment pay off

Financial services firms need to adapt their processes and systems for a digital future while remaining aligned with their long-term vision and strategy.

Without adequate digital skills, financial organisations risk experiencing dampened productivity, skewed data, inaccurate analysis, reduced competitiveness, poorly informed decisions, and potential revenue loss.

Digital upskilling should be viewed as a critical investment for future-proofing business operations, ensuring they remain agile and competitive in a digital world.

Where do we go from here?

You may realise you’ve got missing digital skills across your organisation but perhaps you need to understand those gaps at a more granular level. Maybe you know what training your people need, but don’t have the resource in-house to deliver it… or you just need some guidance on how to embed technology change.

At Inform we specialise in helping organisations across all sectors with their digital transformation projects, big or small.

Don’t wait to future-proof your business. Let’s talk about your digital skills gap and collaborate on a strategic plan of action.

A bridge with a piece missing in front of a skyscraper backdrop

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