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Addressing banking’s digital skills shortage

By staying connected to the current needs of the business and understanding where talent is and what it wants, you can begin to address the skills gap.


The financial industry continues to struggle when it comes to finding job candidates with tech skills. In a survey from Infosys, banks cited candidates’ overall lack of digital skills as one of their top challenges in the post-pandemic era.

Banks have seen this gap coming for a long time, but they haven’t been able to do much to solve it. The problem is generational: Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce in droves, but their institutional knowledge hasn’t been transferred down the chain. Most banks didn’t or couldn’t backfill the positions in time to accommodate this shift.

Meanwhile, technology continues to advance quickly. Verticals such as cybersecurity or AI didn’t exist 15 years ago, so the industry wasn’t prepared for the large number of personnel needed to manage it. As a result, banks are now reverse-engineering the skills gap or even poaching top candidates from competitors.

Background checks and clearance levels add another layer of challenge to the hiring and retention process. Worse, the industry isn’t as secure as it could be, putting data and intellectual property at risk. When banks are too busy guarding against these risks, they don’t have the freedom for creativity and innovation. Everything becomes about reactive programming and process-driven work.

Strategies to close the digital skills gap

As a leader in your industry, what can you do about closing the digital skills gap? Consider the following strategies:

Encourage existing employees to upskill: Executives recognize skill building as the most powerful tool for closing the skills gap. By providing opportunities for professional development, you can equip your team with the tech and financial skills needed to stay competitive long into the future. For instance, you could invest in cybersecurity training for employees across all departments to ensure everyone understands the basics and can contribute to keeping your data secure. Such measures will not only enhance your organization’s security but also foster a culture of trust and safety.

Boost productivity while ensuring retention: One way to increase productivity without affecting job satisfaction is to establish a feedback system that encourages the open sharing of ideas and suggestions. Additionally, you could motivate employees to take ownership of their own development and learning journey by offering incentives to achieve set goals. This approach will improve their skills and foster a sense of autonomy and engagement, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

Understand job candidates’ priorities: It’s vital to assess what your competitors offer and understand current candidates’ goals and priorities if you want to bring in top talent. Today’s job seekers place a premium on flexibility, including the ability to work remotely and on a schedule that suits them. To differentiate your company, consider offering unique perks such as ample vacation time, generous family leave policies, and flexible work arrangements that appeal to the needs of today’s workers. These benefits not only help to attract the best candidates but also improve retention rates by creating a positive work environment.

Embrace diversity and inclusion: If your hiring pools only bring in one type of candidate, you’re missing out on prime opportunities. Don’t limit your candidate pool to the typical sources you might’ve used in the past. Instead, consider reaching out to new audiences. In 2021, Finastra launched a global hackathon aimed at reducing AI bias in lending and encouraged women-led and diverse teams to participate. Out of 600 hackathon teams from more than 50 countries, nearly 80% were led by women. Finding such talent requires proactive efforts to identify and engage with them. Intentionally seeking these candidates out helps communicate that your company values diverse opinions and is likely a safe workplace for all. The results can be invaluable in terms of innovation and employee satisfaction.

Above all, staying informed of the ongoing changes and trends in the financial industry is vital. The sheer speed of disruption will leave unprepared companies at a severe disadvantage against competitors. By staying connected to the current needs of the business and understanding where talent is and what it wants, you can begin to address the skills gap and ensure you won’t lose out in a competitive landscape.

Carlin Brent is vice president of company relations at LaunchCode.