More than any other driver, technology is shaping the future of banking. Its impact is being felt internally as banks rush to evolve their offerings and externally as they respond to the threat from Fintechs and other rivals. Banking leaders are well aware of the need to rethink their existing business models. But do they know what skills their workers will need in the future and how those skills can be acquired? Or how the shape of their workforce needs to change and how this can be achieved? 

Digital expertise will not only be crucial to banks’ ability to run their future operating models, it will also be vital to keeping the business evolving as technology advances. 

  • Five technical skills will become increasingly important to drive growth: Data Assimilation, Emerging Technology Specialisms, Cyber Security, Scenario Modelling, and a Digital Transformation Mindset. 
  • It will be equally important to acquire softer skills - such as empathy, persuasion and emotional intelligence - that banks have not traditionally prioritised. This will become even truer as automation advances and banks turn their focus towards solving complex problems and developing tailored customer-centric experiences. 
  • Finally, the leaders of the future will also need to master an additional range of management skills including agile development, driving a diverse workforce and the ability to foster collaborative alliances with fintechs.

The need to quickly develop a workforce with the right mix of these skills is hugely challenging. Competing head-on with leading technology firms, either on rewards or in terms of employee experiences, is a challenge for established players.

It follows that learning has a huge and essential role to play in shaping the future workforce. But this will not be easy either. Behavioural characteristics are hard to teach and banks face particular challenges from regulation, silos and legacy methods, along with a risk-averse culture that makes it hard for individuals to disrupt the status quo. 

When it comes to building a digitally capable workforce, most banks face three major obstacles. Addressing each will require innovative thinking and significant changes to existing practice.

  • Upskilling at speed. Possible responses might include building internal digital academies; sending staff on secondments to Fintechs; or using AI to generate engaging training content.
  • Upskilling a multigenerational workforce. Solutions, such as reverse mentoring for leaders, digital apprenticeships and the use of ambassadors or influencers, may be valuable.
  • Incentivising staff to develop a broader range of skills. Building a framework of hard and soft digital skills, linking those skills to a range of roles, and using them to map career advancement will encourage staff to build their capabilities.

Learning professionals in banks have a critical role to play in enabling the digital transformation that established banks need to achieve. Winning in a technology-led world calls for the best digital capabilities to drive success and KPMG has a range of learning solutions to help address this growing challenge.