Financial services (FS) firms’ HR functions are at different stages on the journey toward transformation. That journey is not just about adopting new digital HR technologies, it’s also about redefining the role of HR in FS. These three steps can help accelerate that journey.

HR has the opportunity to take a more strategic role, helping to lead transformation across FS organizations. To do so, it needs to reposition. Digital HR technologies can add immense value, freeing up HR to deliver higher-value inputs to the business. But to do so, HR needs to think differently.

These three key steps can help HR to transform and to earn a seat at the boardroom table in FS, without which they risk losing value and influence.

A bigger context

HR, if it hopes to help lead the business, must step out of its narrow HR context (achieving HR goals) and into the broader context of achieving employee, company and customer objectives. For example, HR is paying attention to critical success factors like improving the employee experience (EX), but only as it relates to HR—i.e., accessing HR information and services, driving loyalty, attracting talent; a more strategic approach would be to also look at how the EX impacts culture and innovation, and how it can help the company meet its strategic goals.

Changing HR’s role in FS using digital

Digital HR technology, such as cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions and analytics, can help establish a digital HR capability, improving the effectiveness of HR and allowing HR to change its role within the business. A mobile-enabled SaaS solution reduces the IT administration burden for HR, adds agility, and improves the EX. Analytics gives HR the ability to provide data-driven insight to help the business transform, and become more agile and competitive. But, to help lead change, HR must develop its own digital skills, acquiring a deeper understanding of technology and creating a digital roadmap to help the organization achieve desired future outcomes.

HR the builder

Digital technology offers HR the opportunity to step up, provide more strategic inputs and earn a seat at the boardroom table. But just providing more data is not the answer. HR needs to bring new insight to the organization to help it perform more efficiently and effectively. It must also use external as well as internal insight, together with the ability to forecast and prioritize business needs to put the right people and tools in reach when they are needed. This will require planning—in effect, HR moves from being an administrator to being a builder or architect. To do so, it needs to take a different approach.

For example, people are every business’s primary asset and HR, as the ‘people function’, is responsible for helping the organization achieve more performance through people. As a ‘builder’, HR can no longer do so just through an HR lens; it needs to take a more future-focused outside-in approach, asking a different set of questions about the realization of potential: ‘Who do people need to be?’ ‘What do they need to know?’ ‘How do they need to be able to function?’ … and ‘How can HR assist?’

I hope you have found this series useful. My team and I are currently working on a number of HR transformations within the FS sector. These are exciting projects that are bringing significant benefits to companies and changing how HR contributes to the business. We welcome your insights and questions. Please contact me to discuss your FS organization’s HR transformation.

For more on HR transformation in FS, take a look at Accenture’s recent report, Reimaging HR in Financial Services.

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