This is a critical issue. Gartner research reveals that by 2026, 74% of financial services leaders expect “substantial” or “significant” industry transformation. Nearly 20% expect so much transformation that the industry will be almost unrecognizable compared to that of today. Consistent with that prediction, leaders now realize that skills their associates relied on until now will not sustain their firms in the future. And existing learning and development approaches are not up to the task. Gartner research has found that unfortunately, only 41% of employees are satisfied with the L&D experiences at their organization, and most would not recommend their organization’s training programs to other colleagues. Given the level of industry transformation, financial services leaders must find new ways to build required competencies for the future.
Over the past six months, Gartner experts have spoken extensively with financial services leaders on this topic. Across those conversations, 5 competencies have emerged that the industry must develop to achieve current and future priorities:
COMPETENCIES FOR THE FRONTLINE
1. Digital Dexterity
What it is – a bundle of skills that enable employees to embrace technology to transform how they work and engage clients in new ways. Surprisingly, most of the skills exhibited by Digitally Dexterous employees are soft skills, not technology-specific capabilities.
Why it matters – employees with a high degree of Digital Dexterity are 3.3 times more likely than non-dexterous associates to materially help their firms accelerate digital business transformation.
2. Sense Making
What it is – a new approach to sales in which the seller delivers value by helping clients make sense of a chaotic information environment. “Sense Maker” sellers help customers clarify conflicting information, gauge implications, and determine next steps to achieve objectives.
Why it matters – insight alone is no longer a differentiator as every financial provider now delivers great ideas. “Sense Maker” sellers are 30% more likely to close a high-quality, low regret deal.
3. Empowerment Support
What it is – a highly-effective approach to client engagement in which frontline employees aim not for an efficient client experience but instead to build customer confidence in the ability to achieve financial goals. Frontline staff support client empowerment by educating clients on ways to achieve their objectives; enabling them to take action; and reassuring them that adverse events need not derail their financial journeys.
Why it matters – highly-empowered consumers, business owners, and high-net-worth individuals are more than twice as likely to be revenue-positive for their financial providers.
COMPETENCIES FOR LEADERS
4. Open Source Change Management
What it is – an approach to change management that mixes top-down guidance from leaders with bottom-up input from associates. Middle managers and frontline staff participate in planning change strategy, developing implementation plans, and communicating change to the organization.
Why it matters – the open source approach boosts the odds of success for major change initiatives by 24%, crucial given the level of transformation happening in financial services.
5. Scenario Thinking
What it is – a type of strategic thinking in which assumptions about clients, competitors, technology, and the macro environment are constantly up for debate. Leaders consistently challenge beliefs about the business and use scenarios to prepare for alternate futures.
Why it matters – as noted above, 74% of financial services leaders expect significant industry transformation by 2026. Leadership teams that rely on outdated assumptions will be blindsided by emerging competitive threats and their firms will fall behind.