Financial Services Ireland

Financial Services

Future-Proofing skills for Ireland’s Financial Services Sector

Read more

The skills needed now to work in the Financial Services sector have changed dramatically and will have to continue to keep pace with evolving business processes, technology and a stringent regulatory environment.  Nurturing the right talent and finetuning employee skills is essential to allow companies in this sector to thrive.

Ireland’s financial sector is a key contributor to the economy. Worth €19.3 billion in GDP, it contributes to 23% of Ireland’s total corporate income tax at €2.49 billion and the numbers employed in this sector now stand at over 52,000 people.  The sector is characterised by a unilateral competition for talent, the rising adoption of hybrid working models and shifting requirements in terms of skills needed by those who work in financial services.

The recent FSI report Future skills in Financial Services details how the sector can ‘future-proof’ when it comes to building and shaping the skills required as the sector evolves rapidly.  Their goal is to make Ireland one of the top 20 global financial centres by 2025.

In examining the skills which the sector should focus on, the report organises them into four categories – Future Currency Skills, which focuses on technical skills; Human Experience; Reimagination and Pivoting Skills, which recognise the skills that are – and will remain – key in how we work today.   Data analytics, machine learning, digital transformation and risk and compliance are the areas identified as having the greatest skills gaps.  Sustainable finance was cited as the greatest opportunity for the sector, followed by fintech.

To remain competitive, financial institutions require access to a strong and digitally fluent workforce who can effectively utilise new technologies and leverage the vast amounts of data now available.  Equally, a re-think is needed in terms of talent acquisition methods, and those brands who demonstrate flexible, employee-focussed ways of working will emerge as the leaders in terms of attracting & retaining talent.

There is work to be done so that companies in the sector can be future-fit now.  Here are some of the factors to consider as you build your long-term people strategy.

Engage with talent as early as possible

  • Attract talent early – build networks to nurture and attract people, for example the ‘fintech corridor’ which is based on the success of a similar mechanism in the pharma and cybersecurity sectors.
  • Adopt a partnership approach with 3rd level institutions to attract new college and university graduates.
  • Get to know your potential future employees; what drives them, what they want from an employer and crucially how you can attract them into Financial Services.

Develop a strong, distinct Employer Brand

  • Business students surveyed in the report considered financial services as a career destination with many naming 6 financial institutions in their top 25.  For engineering and technology graduates, the sector didn’t rank at all in theirs.  They did however rank high future earnings, innovation, and a creative and dynamic work environment as the top 3 attributes they value in an employer.  This highlights current perceptions of the sector, and the brand characteristics that are important to potential employees.
  • Position your brand as tech focused, innovative, and operating at a world class standard -this will help to attract those transitioning roles or sectors.
  • Create the job environment employees want.  This means hybrid/remote working models, increased flexibility and fostering a culture that genuinely supports work/life balance.

Modernize your Talent Acquisition Process

  • Expand the talent pool by extending existing initiatives such as work placements, PLCs, student internships and apprenticeships.
  • Encourage a broader selection of candidates to apply by shortening job descriptions and reclassing skills from “must have” to “willing to develop”.  The focus now is more on potential as few candidates will have the perfect blend of traditional skills required in financial services and the newer skills desired.
  • Consider the shape of the organisation to broaden the talent net; e.g.  gig workers & crowdsourcing.
  • Consider what more can be done to attract international talent, and how you can support them to integrate into the workforce.

Focus on the right skills

  • With the increasing importance of ESG and sustainable finance, as new business areas, they will require certain skills – plan how to prepare and upskill/hire for this.
  • Foster a continuous learning culture so that employees are re-skilled and up skilled in line with market expectations.

Read full FSI report here.

How EY can help

If you would like more information on how EY’s team of experts can help, please get in touch.

Jackie Gilmore

FS Partner, People Consulting
Jackie's Full Profile