Much of the conversation about the New Digital Age is forward-facing. These discussions are vital, but—for talent decision-makers in financial services—they overlook something crucial.

Game-changing technologies are being developed and adopted faster than ever. It’s not surprising, therefore, that discussions about their impact on financial services talent management tend to assume that the most crucial changes are still to come.

This is not the case.

The four key technologies shaping tomorrow’s economy

In 2018, the World Economic Forum identified four key technological drivers of change for tomorrow’s economy:

  • Ubiquitous access to high-speed internet
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Big-data analytics
  • Cloud technology

The most salient feature of this list is that three of the four technologies are already in place for FS organizations—and AI is not too far behind. The much-discussed future of work for financial services is already here.

For talent leaders at banks, insurers, capital markets firms, and others in the financial services industry, that means the time is now to build a culture of lifelong learning.

It wasn’t that long ago that the skills you learned in school could be depended on to stand you in good stead for your entire career. Not anymore. The researchers John Seely Brown and Peter Denning estimate that the half-life of workplace skills is five years. In other words, half of what a graduate learns in university will be obsolete in five years. In 10 years, almost all of it will be outdated. To thrive in this environment, adults need to become self-directed learners, and will have to master technology that has yet to be invented for careers that don’t exist today.

There is compelling evidence that FS businesses of all kinds that help their employees achieve this will enjoy significant benefits. Recent research suggests that half of high-performing companies are pushing their employees to become self-directed lifelong learners, and that a culture of lifelong learning is strongly tied to better market performance.

Yet that same research also found that fewer than one in five businesses has enacted specific policies or taken other actions to encourage lifelong learning, like making it an organizational value, linking it to mobility or compensation, or including it in performance expectations.

In other words, half the market has yet to grasp the importance of lifelong learning. Most of those that do know aren’t acting on it.

This suggests that many organizations are puzzled about how best to cultivate a culture of lifelong learning among employees. My next post in this series will look at the most common pitfall for firms looking to build such a culture.

In the meantime, if you have questions about how to kickstart your organization’s lifelong learning journey, I’d love to hear from you. My contact information can be found at the top of this page.

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