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4 Digital Talent Acquisition Strategies for Financial Services Firms

View of a financial district at night with tall buildings

The Fintech start-up phenomenon has led to a bottom-up digital transformation of the Financial Services sector. Now, the big banks are embarking on a top-down digital transformation of the industry too. Lloyds Bank is half-way through its own 3-year, 3 billion pound, digital transformation, to turn the group into a ‘digitized, simple, low risk, customer-focussed, UK financial services provider.” The big banks are locked in an application arms-race, all aiming to be first-to-market with game-changing implementations in the areas of AI, VR, AR, Blockchain, and mobile access.

As a result of these far-reaching digital transformation agendas, we have seen a 10-fold increase in demand for IT and Engineering roles in banks over the last 3 years. This is putting pressure on the talent acquisition process and industry forecasts suggest that 30% of financial services tech jobs may go unfulfilled in 2020. UK digital talent acquisition specialists are in the midst of a Europe-wide talent war, and need to develop innovative digital talent acquisition strategies.

1. Lloyds cleverly pitches itself as a ‘well-financed Fintech’.

Lloyds Bank adopted an enterprising branding strategy, turning it’s employer value proposition on it’s head. By pitching itself as a “well-financed fintech", in job adverts, they were promising to provide the entrepreneurial climate of an exciting start-up, with none of the associated financial risk. This strategy countered the start-up’s unique employee value proposition, enabling a big bank like Lloyds to access a large digital talent pool that would normally be drawn towards start-ups.

2. Grow your own

Putting hiring aside for the moment, the process of digital up-skilling existing staff will prove to be a crucial practice in the financial services sector’s HR digital transformation process. Having been deployed successfully in 5 financial services organizations in Luxembourg, PwC showcased the Luxembourg Digital Skills bridge which is a proven method for internal up-skilling during digital transformation. In this model, leaders would meet one-on-one with employees whose roles are to be transformed by technology and develop a plan for each employee to obtain the skills to progress into new roles in the post-digitization jobs ecosystem. This strategy could enhance your employer value proposition, as an investor in people, increasing your ability to both attract and retain staff. 

3.Use external digital talent acquisition specialists 

Up-skilling is nice in theory but, according to a CapGemini study, but such programmes are not always deployed effectively. Half of employees in tech roles in the financial services sector say that their internal digital training programmes aren’t effective, or they aren’t given time to attend. As a result, employees either train themselves on their own time or go to a company that will train them. 

There are limitations to an up-skilling digital transformation strategy, and it’s been pointed out by senior banking industry professionals that the pace of staff learning often can’t keep up with business requirements. That’s why up-skilling needs to be part of a holistic talent management strategy combining external hiring using digital talent acquisition specialists to ensure business success.

4. Offshoring is back

Even with having incorporated nearly 35,000 workers from overseas, the London digital talent market remains over-stretched and cannot meet the needs of the capital’s financial services industry. Companies are now looking to offshore work, not to save money necessarily, but to simply gain access to more digital talent.  One case study revealed in illustrates how a major talent acquisition company were, earlier this year, working with a major financial services organization to scope out and establish a regional digital talent base in Sri Lanka. The project involved developing a 200-strong digital talent pipeline, after investigating and skill-mapping nearly 4,000 candidates.

It is perhaps the best and worst time to be involved in talent acquisition in financial services. Automation, AI, VR, AR and Blockchain are bringing an exciting wave of digital transformation across the financial services sector. At the same, this has generated a huge demand for digital talent leading to digital talent war, that will require organizations to develop innovative approaches to talent management to execute their digital transformation agendas.

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