The financial services sector has evolved considerably in recent years, so it's no surprise that the various career paths in the industry have changed as well.
Operating processes, the wider geo-political and economic climate and the sheer scale of the sector have altered considerably in the last few decades. The rise of online investment firms are now challenging traditional investment banking, hedge funds are now competing against venture capital firms, and the same can be said for retail banking and insurance. As a result, the needs and circumstances of customers and clients are no longer the same − and the industry has adapted accordingly − creating new and varied financial services career paths.
This has transformed the path and skills professionals require to develop a career in financial services. So what has driven these changes in recent years and is continuing to transform the operating environment today?
Increased reliance on technology to do business
The emergence of how data is handled and an increasing reliance on cloud technology represents a genuine revolution in how businesses in all sectors operate. With unprecedented connectivity, instant access to information and the ability to engage with customers and clients on a much deeper level, standard business processes - for firms of all sizes - bear little resemblance to those 20 or 30 years ago. The financial services industry has therefore had to respond and keep up.
With competition laws in place and the Financial Conduct Authority actively trying to encourage a diverse sector, the largest players in the industry have found themselves up against more and more rivals who are vying for similar customers and clients. People working in the financial services sector need to be outward looking and innovative if they are to effectively compete against these upcoming businesses.
Furthermore, financial services providers have been forced to work harder to retain their top talent, as the entrance of new names in the marketplace has created new job opportunities. Staff with the right skills no longer have to rise through the ranks at their current firm - they can take their expertise to competitors who are seeking professionals with proven experience in the sector. .
Businesses diversifying into financial services
People now have more opportunities to build a career in finance working in non-finance firms. A growing number of businesses are diversifying into financial services. For instance, supermarkets now offer insurance, mortgages, savings accounts and much more besides. The diversification of these businesses is attracting talent away from what was once considered a traditional financial services company. Now people who want to progress an alternative career path have multiple options to build a solid and comprehensive future in the financial services sector.
Need for greater commercial/business partnering skills
Many overlooked issues have risen up the corporate agenda in recent years, from sustainability and efficiency to best practice. Businesses are relying on employees to partner with different sectors within a business, especially for finance professionals whose role has shifted from one of purely fiscal responsibility to analysis and reporting strategic insights back to the business.
Rise of digital services/offerings
As said earlier, technology has transformed how businesses invest and operate, but it has also opened up room to create new product offerings. Look at how online banking has taken off, for instance. The marketplace has bought into digital services and offerings, so financial services providers must have the nous and expertise to cater to this need and do so effectively in order to remain competitive.
Skilled professionals are now in the driver’s seat and in control of the direction their careers are heading in. There is no longer a traditional career path to take as the likes of technology and competition among businesses has enabled professionals to choose different routes to develop their career and find jobs in the financial services industry.