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March 28, 2023

How can learning support the financial industry?

Mind Tools for Business

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The rise of AI

It’s undoubtedly a turbulent time for finance leaders. But organizations have been quick to learn from previous downturns by accelerating investment in bold technological investments designed to make them faster and leaner.

According to our latest leadership report, the top priorities for financial organizations, as of 2023, were reducing operational costs (37 percent of respondents) and building digital environment and capabilities (34 percent). [1]

Autonomous finance has seen significant growth as a result. This involves using AI technology to provide real-time and predictive insights, greater compliance and improved forecasting. All of which allows financial organizations to remain agile, flexible and responsive to markets. In fact, 92 percent of CFOs said that they plan to increase investment in technology like this – up from 70 percent in 2021. [2]

20.8 percent of financial jobs are at risk of displacement

However, technological advancements, coupled with a need to reduce costs, have meant that 20.8 percent of the financial services workforce in the UK are at risk of displacement. [3]

Ironically, the investment in and growth of new technologies has resulted in increased demand for new roles, specifically data and technical specialists, despite others becoming obsolete. As a result, many organizations are looking at upskilling current staff into these areas to avoid redundancies and improve staff retention.

Nonetheless, research shows that many organizations are not upskilling quickly enough. Only 14 percent of finance leaders have made significant progress in establishing an upskilling program to tackle this issue. [4]

Upskilling saves money and retains talent

Research by the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC) reveals that failing to prioritize skills development can actually increase costs. For example, in terms of recruitment, lack of innovation, and stalled projects and product development. It pinpoints technical skills such as data analysis, software development and digital literacy as key in-demand skills. [5]

The research demonstrates that learning must go beyond technical skills to include soft skills if employees are to be truly successful. Creativity, coaching, problem-solving and decision-making skills are still needed to ensure that employees are effectively utilizing analytics, AI tools and automated processes in a way that supports the organization’s goals.

And, despite increased reliance on automation to provide some customer service, face-to-face customer experiences remain crucial to the success of many financial organizations. This is particularly the case in a competitive market facing economic pressures , where a poor customer experience can result in people switching service provider.

Research from Deloitte shows that soft skills are still rated more highly by corporate clients than technical skills as the most important attributes needed by relationship managers. With “being proactive” and having “a solutions mindset” topping the list at 73 percent and 70 percent, respectively. [6]

Employee engagement in learning is falling

So how are organizations planning to upskill their workforce so that they continue to remain resilient in the face of changing market pressures?

Since the pandemic, many companies have opted to retain a hybrid work environment, which has resulted in a rapid digitalization of learning. While this initially resulted in an uplift in supporting new ways of working, innovation and response times, these same achievements plummeted in 2022. This suggests that organizations are struggling to sustain the short-term learning gains they made in 2021, at the height of the pandemic. [7]

Our own research reveals that the problem lies primarily in attitudes among employees toward learning, which dropped to its lowest point in three years in 2022. In other words, employees simply aren’t as engaged in learning as they were during the pandemic. [7]

People first, technology second

Although these findings paint a somewhat concerning picture, they reveal a much bigger issue – it is not simply enough for organizations to invest in tech and digital learning. They also need to encourage employee engagement by developing a strong internal learning culture.

Our 2022 Learning Performance Benchmark suggests a number of ways organizations can achieve this, for example:

  • Investing in collaboration tools that support social learning among peers.
  • Using data to identify skills gaps and create targeted learning that addresses these gaps.
  • Communicating performance impacts and linking learning with organizational goals.
  • Integrating learning into the flow of work by making it accessible to all employees (for example, by choosing learning tools that are easy to use and are signposted correctly).

Discover more about how Mind Tools for Business can support your digital learning capabilities, and ensure that your people are learning the skills they need to achieve success.


[1] Mind Tools for Business. (2023.) ‘Turning Pressures Into Opportunities.’ Available here.

[2] Gartner for Finance. (2023.) ‘Top Priorities for Finance Leaders in 2023.’ Available here.

[3] [4] Financial Services Skills Commission. (2022.) ‘Reskilling: A business case for financial services organisations.’ Available here.

[5] Financial Services Skills Commission. (2022.) ‘Mind the gaps – Skills for the future of financial services 2022.’ Available here.

[6] Deloitte Center for Financial Services. (2023). ‘2023 banking and capital markets outlook.’ Available here.

[7] Mind Tools for Business. (2022). ‘Is your learning culture keeping pace with rapid digitalization? Annual L&D Benchmark Report 2022.’ Available here.

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