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Staying ahead of the curve: The top 5 future skills needed for a successful career in the finance sector

Please introduce yourself.

I'm Mark Jackson, and I head up our Future Workforce team at Nationwide. That means we're always looking at the skills and capability gaps that could arise within our workforce over the next few years. We run Strategic Workforce Planning methodology, enable employees to log their skills on a talent marketplace to spot new internal opportunities and experiences, and we shape our employer brand to attract and recruit across the whole business. Skills in Financial Services and Banking are constantly changing; so it's important that our team can deliver skills and insights to match the strategy of the organisation.

Why is it important to look ahead at skills needed in the future?

Financial Services and Banking are not alone in needing to stay ahead of the curve, as this is crucial for long-term business success. With the rapid advancements in technology and the evolving nature of customer habits, it's essential to identify and develop the skills that will be in high demand in the future across the whole of our workforce. The more an organisation can reskill and upskill internally is also a huge business benefit, as you then become much less reliant on the external labour market to fill any shortfall of skills.

What are the top 5 future skills needed in the finance sector?
  1. Data Analysis and Insight: As Financial Services and Banking becomes more data-driven, professionals will need to be proficient in analysing and interpreting large sets of data to make informed business decisions. This is also important for leaders, who become more and more influenced by data decision-making.
  2. Digital Literacy: With the rise of fintech and digital banking, workers will need to be comfortable with digital tools and platforms, as well as have a good understanding of topics such as cyber, data privacy and risk.
  3. Adaptability and Flexibility: The sector is constantly evolving, and behaviour will need to be adaptable and flexible in their approach to work, as well as open to learning new skills and technologies.
  4. Strategic Thinking: Leaders and managers will need to be able to think critically and strategically, understanding the broader implications of their decisions and how they impact the overall business strategy. Key business decisions will have multiple factors to consider, with costs and benefits sat alongside areas such as workforce change, diversity and productivity.
  5. Emotional Intelligence: As the sector becomes more customer-centric, professionals will need to have strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence to build and maintain relationships with customers and colleagues.
How and why have these skills changed over time?

Those future skills are heavily in development across the financial services sector, with an industry-wide agreement to re-skill and attract into finance and banking. The emphasis on some of these skills has changed alongside the customer needs and technology advancements; with different customer demographics requiring slightly different experiences as part of their banking.

Are soft skills becoming more important than hard skills?

Soft skills have become just as important as hard, technical skills. This is partly down to the advancements made in technical training; where you can learn, develop, and re-skill away from traditional methods of face-to-face learning. It's made bigger career changes feel less daunting; with employers now also benefiting from providing the qualifications alongside the relevant training. It means that softer skills are much more dependent on the experiences you go through, and also reliant on the interaction or communication you have in your work. This has been harder to achieve for some in remote working roles, but training content in softer skills and the ability to collaborate with colleagues within the workplace means that the pace of development can be kept up with the needs.

Apprenticeships are a great way to learn, develop and re-skill, take a look here.