Key talent findings in the financial services industry

20th CEO Survey

Rethinking people strategies

Technology, regulation and changing customer expectations are challenging traditional business models within financial services (FS). And with this comes a whole new set of skills and organisational demands. Bringing people strategies up to speed with disruption and change is an opportunity to innovate, differentiate and engage more closely with customers. The risks of falling behind are highlighted by the 72% of FS CEOs who see the limited availability of skills as a threat to growth. 

New skills, new people

Financial Services CEOs see significant changes in the skills and types of people they need. While demand for data analysts, robotics engineers and other tech specialists is clearly growing, it’s just as important to ensure that leaders understand the possibilities of today’s ever more sophisticated technology. And as automation gathers pace, the value of skills that can’t be replicated by machines is increasing. FS CEOs now rank adaptability and collaboration on a par with traditional FS skills such as problem-solving. Yet, creativity, digital capabilities and emotional intelligence are surprisingly low down the list of prized skills given the vital importance of innovation and customer-centricity in today’s marketplace. Ultimately, the future workforce will see human and machine working side-by-side, which calls for a whole new way of thinking, operating and collaborating – we explore the key developments shaping talent priorities over next five years and the strategies for managing them in The power to perform: Human capital 2020 and beyond.   

More informed workforce planning

Sixty per cent of FS CEOs are rethinking their HR function, but only 48% use HR analytics to find, develop and keep people, and only 10% to a great extent, even though this would improve their ability to anticipate changing circumstances and respond proactively. Just as the ways FS organisations manage customer relations are evolving, talent management is also set to become more data-driven. As FS organisations rethink their HR functions, it’s important to ensure investments in HR technology include robust data analytics and visualisation capabilities. It’s also important to recruit and develop HR talent with data modelling skills, as well as the ability to interpret data and understand its business implications.  

Dealing with upheaval 

Nearly two out of three FS CEOs see lack of trust as a threat to growth. As the CEO Survey highlights, questions over trust have been heightened by digitisation and globalisation. These concerns underline the importance of rebuilding trust, re-connecting with society and making globalisation work for all. Within the workforce, many FS employees are worried about how headcount reductions and the impact of automation will affect their jobs and future roles. There are also concerns over the impact of regulatory and political upheaval. In this time of uncertainty and disruption, the importance of informing, assuring and engaging with staff has never been greater. A defining aspect of leadership will be how well CEOs communicate their vision for the future of the organisation and bring their workforce together behind it. And a key element of FS organisations’ social responsibility is the support they provide for the people they re-assign or let go. 

Diversity as a differentiator

Eighty five per cent of FS CEOs promote talent diversity and inclusion, enabling their organisations to broaden their talent pool and bring in the fresh ideas and experiences needed to foster innovation. In a competitive job market, transparency around progress on diversity can also strengthen the brand with customers and potential recruits. Yet barriers to diversity remain in areas ranging from the difficulties of winning buy-in from middle management to a tendency among leaders to favour people like themselves for promotion (‘unconscious biases’). Experience shows that policies can’t overcome these barriers on their own. What’s needed is a change of mind-set that stretches from more agile ways of working to how performance and potential are judged. And it’s important to back this up with targets for inclusion (e.g. promotion) and tracking progress to ensure this is an organisation-wide priority.  

What is on the minds of China and Hong Kong CEOs for the year ahead?

The Chinese economy continues to undergo complex structural reforms to ensure balanced and steady development and growth. Business outlook for executives in China appears quite positive. To achieve this growth, numerous challenges combined with global economic uncertainty have to be overcome. Intense industry competition, the pace of technological development, changes in consumer spending and behaviour, difficulty with recruiting employees with advanced skills and lack of trust in business were cited as main threats to growth prospects.

Business leaders today have a great opportunity and responsibility to lead through the disruptions by demonstrating purpose and increasing trust. Find out more from our China report: Leading through disruption.

Explore the key insights

Contact us

Matthew Phillips

China and Hong Kong Financial Services Leader, PwC Hong Kong

Tel: +[852] 2289 2303

Marie-Anne Kong

Hong Kong Asset and Wealth Management Leader, PwC Hong Kong

Tel: +[852] 2289 2707

Lars Nielsen

Hong Kong Insurance Leader, PwC Hong Kong

Tel: +[852] 2289 2722

Peter Li

Financial Services Assurance and Banking & Capital Markets Leader, PwC Hong Kong

Tel: +[852] 2289 2982

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