Meet the digital talent challenge

Meet the digital talent challenge

Back in December I wrote about the burgeoning fintech revolution and how banks and traditional financial services organisations were no longer fighting amongst themselves for the best talent. The digital permeation into every area of our lives, including how we manage our financial assets, has led to a blurring of lines between what used to be pretty distinct industries and for the digital talent at a height of demand never seen before, a plethora of opportunities across industries who are all fighting for the best.

The fact of the matter is that the traditional banking industry is much less a draw than it once was – increasing regulation, decreasing reward and the opportunity to be part of an industry changing fintech revolution are all leading some of the best and brightest to leave for pastures new and chase the dangling equity carrot. Of course, many of the established banking old guard are fighting back hard ensuring that they minimise their losses to the young fintech upstarts.

Digitalisation and the rise of the ‘digital factory’

To put the digitalisation of traditional banking organisations into some perspective, Deutsche Bank provide a useful indication:

  • In the bank’s Corporate and Investment Banking Unit Deutcshe’s 45 operational systems will be reduced to just four by 2020, while the bank’s use of cloud technology will be quadrupled to include 80% of systems and virtualisation will increase from 46% to 95% of applications
  • From a retail perspective, Deutsche plans to close 200 branches and invest an additional €1bn over the next three-to-five years on the development of online sales and service (Finextra, Apr 2016)

In a bid to meet this digital future head-on they are in the process of developing a “digital factory” made up of c.400 software developers, IT Specialists and banking experts to develop new products and drive the transformation of the business. In their Q1 results summary, Deutsche’s co-CEO’, John Cryan and Jurgen Fitschen, wrote of their new ‘Digital Factory’, “here, around 400 digital specialists and banking experts will work together and co-operate closely with our innovation labs in Berlin, London and Silicon Valley to push forward our digital agenda. With this initiative we are building for the future.”

Canada’s Scotiabank is another good example of a large banking organisation driving digital transformation through a ‘digital factory’ which will be fully operational by the middle of this year.  This new development will pursue, design and deliver digital innovations and solutions for the Bank’s customers. “It will house more than 350 jobs for top technology talent under one enterprise-wide mission: to help Scotiabank provide a seamless, personalized experience to its customers, so they can be served how, when and where they want. Scotiabank, through its Digital Factory, will play a leading role in redefining banking for the digital age.”

Through the looking glass…

So amongst this backdrop of everyone within the FS sector, and beyond, scrapping over the same digital savvy talent – everyone from content writers to solution architects – it’s perhaps no surprise that we’re seeing an increase in the demand from our clients looking to gain deep insight into the global digital talent landscape and this is critical if organisations are going to compete effectively.

The questions we’re being asked to answer are broad and varied but the theme we’re seeing are:

  • Which city locations should we be basing our digital innovation hubs in and why?
  • What is the potential talent pool size?
  • What do they want from an employer?
  • What are they paid?
  • What do they think of our brand?

And beyond…

Insight into the market is of course just the starting point, albeit a critical one. Without this, efforts made to engage the external market, whether by the CEO of a four man fintech start-up or the in-house talent acquisition team of a major bank responsible for building the kind of ‘digital factory’ I talked about earlier, are often futile. Once you know where you’re playing and how to play there you can start to be intelligent about how to engage the talent you are fighting for.

The next step is to use the insight gained to start engaging the market, ideally ahead of time and ahead of vacancies coming live, to build buy in to your business, the opportunities that are now and maybe available in future and begin to get a sense of who the very best are amongst the sea of potential candidates, the real ‘talent’ with the power to transform your business. Once you know who the pool of the best are you can then target your efforts in ongoing engagement and have them ‘on tap’ to the point when you are ready to turn the tap on and fill your vacancies – be it five or fifty-five.

Our clients who work with us in this more strategic way, rather than those who come to us at the last minute panicking because they ‘can’t find’ the calibre they want are not surprisingly several steps ahead of their competition and being recognised as digital leaders in their respective fields. In markets like the one we’re seeing currently, with every organisation across multiple sectors all wanting and believing they can ‘attract’ the best, it’s of course never going to be easy and in reality there is no silver bullet but with some proper thought and proactive planning, there is a better way.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Adam Fleckney is Head of Practice, Financial Services at the talent & insight consultancy, Write Research. Adam solves business challenges through talent and organisational insight  and specialises  in strategic talent acquisition  and leadership risk reduction across the Financial Services industry. PULSE comments and articles are his own views.11


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