how are financial firms broadening their talent pools

How Are Financial Services Firms Broadening Their Talent Pools?

Industries worldwide are experiencing unprecedented change as digital transformation and new economic realities shake up the world of work. For sectors like financial services and technology, which rely on skilled employees, finding the right people is a growing challenge – and likely to become even more difficult in the future. To understand this challenge, we must explore pressing questions such as how are financial services firms broadening their talent pools? What are the core skills gaps facing the financial industry? And what impact has the pandemic had on corporate learning?

In a recent Intuition webinar, Intuition spoke to Claire Tunley (Chief Executive of the Financial Services Skills Commission) and Tanuj Kapilashrami (Group Head of HR at Standard Chartered Bank) where these questions (and more) took center stage in what was an eye-opening discussion.

In this part of the Q&A, Tanuj and Claire discuss exactly how financial services firms are diversifying their talent pools at the moment.

What are the Core Skills Gaps Facing the Financial Industry?

I’m seeing a lot of discussion about how a broader perspective on skills and more willingness to invest in training and teaching is helping financial services institutions broaden their recruitment pools out of their traditional, potentially fairly narrow pools that they were focused on and maybe drawing in a more diverse and a different looking workforce to what came before them. So again, there’s this sort of two tensions there that we’re having to balance increasingly in the wake of the pandemic, but also more broadly. Have you seen something like that on the recruitment side of your business?


Claire and I have spoken about this previously. The big part of the debate that we are having today is, is there an opportunity for the world to actually become more inclusive and diverse? And how do we leverage technology to make us more human and a more inclusive business, not less? I do believe that if done well, the world can become a more inclusive world by using technology. There are several points you raise. I mean, there’s a lot of work that I’m doing currently on resourcing challenges we have in the cyber world. For financial services, the world of cyber and cyber risk is the flipside of the increasing focus on digital. There are real resourcing gaps we have in that area and I think the initial strategy around resourcing was very similar. Everyone was fishing in the same pool until we realized that the only way we can meet the demand, but also upscale the rest of the organization, is by opening up our talent pool. We picked on a challenge to make our cyber recruitment much more gender diverse because we were told that you don’t find a lot of female candidates for roles in cyber risk or cyber security. We busted that myth by being quite targeted first of all in our reskilling and upskilling agenda internally, providing good opportunities, but also by going through nontraditional hiring avenues, changing the criteria we looked at and focusing on much more targeted programs as opposed to standard degrees. We went to different kinds of schools and we are going for apprenticeship programs in those areas as well, building that talent pool for the future. I think companies can make much more thoughtful choices to deal with some of these challenges and I think learning plays a massive role in that.

And this is a big priority at the government level, Claire, to see greater diversification, specifically in financial services.


Absolutely, it’s at a firm level as well. I think building on what Tanuj is saying, there’s a huge opportunity here. I think a lot of these challenges were here before coronavirus was even a word that we knew. Covid has given us another lens to look at these challenges and maybe think of solutions that perhaps we wouldn’t have considered previously. But certainly, as TanujI said earlier, you can’t recruit your way out of this problem. You have to invest. But also, recruitment is a really key part of the strategy. Firms that I work with and talk to all the time are very clear that they need to think wider about how they attract people and how they recruit not only those that have got the very high level of tech skills which are continually in high demand, and how to make financial services more attractive over a tech sector or a different sector? That’s a big challenge and something we’re working on. But also, how do you then think about recruiting differently in investing? It’s very interesting and encouraging that many firms are now reporting that they are going to do more recruitment and upskilling than they did previously. This year’s figures report around half of these firms will upskill and reskill whereas last year’s were around a third. The recent figures are that 60% of financial services firms are going to increase their apprenticeship hires next year. This investment is a different way of recruiting, finding talent in a different place and investing in that talent is really encouraging and it is necessary to solve the skills challenges but, it has to go beyond that. It has to go beyond just thinking about apprenticeships, college leavers, returnships, ex-military personnel, career changes and a lot of that at the mid-level, and experienced high level. We have to really think about what our criteria are for recruiting. And again, going back to some of the things we mentioned earlier. I know that many firms, especially some of the fintechs that are growing rapidly, recruit based on that appetite for learning, ongoing inquisitiveness, asking questions and improving things rather than just experience and qualifications, because they know that if you’ve got the appetite for learning, if you have the capability, you can be taught anything and really add value. I think just rethinking what attributes we recruit for is going to be very live and I know firms are already thinking about that. The other thing to mention is about global access. Although virtual working will increase the global marketplace, the talent board is being closed. On whether that’s an explosion of a new talent pool or whether we need to invest in domestic skills in the UK, I think there’s still going to be both elements that we need to think about.

“Firms that are growing rapidly recruit based on that appetite for learning, ongoing inquisitiveness, asking questions and improving things rather than just experience and qualifications”


If you would like to read the rest of the Q&A, you can do so at the following links:

Alternatively, if you would like to access the webinar recording in full, you can watch the session here.

Recorded Webinar: Bridging the Skills Gap:  Today’s Workers & Tomorrow’s Workplace