Technology innovation is pressuring the financial services industry from all sides. Mobile applications, big data, and cloud computing are requiring massive investments in and retooling of IT infrastructure. Cyber-security and privacy concerns are driving new regulatory measures that prompt IT system changes. Old core banking systems are being rendered obsolete by digital demands.

These are critical strategic imperatives every financial services firm faces. In my previous post, I outlined how financial services firms suffer from a lack of technology expertise in the boardroom, along with an underrepresentation of females. Before making the case for overcoming both of these deficits with one action―placing female technology experts on financial services boards―I’d like to further explore the impact of technology on the financial services industry, as well as the value of including technology expertise in the boardroom.

The strategic decisions boards are facing

Executive boards are responsible for overseeing strategy. With technology now at the heart of corporate strategy, it’s essential that firms ensure decision making is well grounded in technological expertise. This expertise allows organisations to understand the forces shaping the digital transformation that is so deeply impacting every aspect of the financial services industry, and take proactive steps to harness those forces to drive business success. Here are some of the issues corporate boards currently face:

  • Determining where to make strategic investments in digital technology.
  • Deciding on how to meet these investments, both in terms of budget and resources (including outsourcing to technology startups).
  • Identifying the most appropriate and effective strategic partnerships in support of non-differentiating IT assets.
  • Aligning the state of the firm’s technology to regulatory demands.
  • Evaluating and reporting to shareholders on all types of technology risk.

Clearly, the digital revolution has added new demands to boardroom responsibilities. These are demands that require more than business acumen and interest. They specifically signal the need for technology expertise that can address financial firms’ requirements as their operations are increasingly driven by digital technology.

Technology expertise and gender parity go hand-in-hand

To be successful, organisations must actively seek out technology expertise at the same time they strive for the gender parity that gives both men and women equal opportunity to contribute. It’s been shown that women understand and take advantage of the fact that digital fluency and technology expertise give them a competitive advantage in the workplace. Because of this dynamic, women are an excellent resource to tap to both bring technology expertise to the boardroom and create gender parity at all levels of the organisation.

In my next post, I’ll explain how companies and their HR teams can help ensure females and technology expertise, often in the same package, are well-represented in their governing boards and their organisations as a whole.

To learn more about technology and women in the financial services boardroom, please see:

Tech Experience: Women’s Stepping Stone to the Corporate Boardroom?

Accenture Strategy: Bridging the technology gap in financial services boardrooms

 

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