How Can Finance Professionals Bust Out Of Career Crossroads?

By Randstad Posted 3yr(s) ago Reading Time: About 5 minutes

Many senior-level banking and finance professionals are at a career crossroad because of business restructuring activities that have taken place over the last few years. The integration of technology into the business environment has increasingly transformed the way finance people work, communicate and collaborate. 

For example, instead of keeping a physical paper trail, activities such as audit fieldwork or know-your-customer interviews can now be done online. By replacing face-to-face meetings with video conferences and chat messages, relationship managers can easily connect with more people across borders and time zones to build a larger customer portfolio. 

This new way of working has reshaped career paths and job scopes; and employees know that they would need to keep up with the changes to remain employable. 

In a 2018 Workmonitor study commissioned by Randstad that monitors HR trends and labour market changes, it is found that 81 per cent of respondents in Singapore think that moving into a more digital work and professional environment would require a different skill set than what they currently possess. 

A Deloitte Insights report echoed similar sentiments, stating that the half-life of a skill is currently five years, and it will only continue to decrease. This means that the tools, skills and competencies required to perform a job today will drastically change in five years. 

Keeping up with technology changes that will shape the world of work

Mature professionals may feel most impacted by digitalisation. Most of them only learned how to use smartphones in their 30s when Apple released the first iPhone in 2007. Social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn have also changed the way they connect and engage with their peers. 

To this group of workers who places a high value on relationships and trust, a world transformed and powered by technology can be intimidating. There is a reasonable explanation for their feelings of insecurity. Some senior professionals are already facing push-backs at their jobs as their traditional ways of working are no longer favoured in today’s environment. 

A US study placed 28 per cent of millennials in managerial positions and 83 per cent of respondents said that Millennials are managing Generation-X and Baby Boomer professionals within their office. 

As more young workers enter the workforce and take up senior roles, the way we work will inevitably change. Compared to previous generations, these digital natives are more exposed to new technology growing up. They are not afraid to experiment and use these new technologies in the workplace, as long as there is potential to improve productivity and efficiency. However, their expectations of a tech-savvy workforce may not be met, particularly if they are managing people who are resistant to change, or whose digital capabilities are not up to standards.

Furthermore, younger workers are generally more ambitious and eager to rise up the ranks. Many of them actively seek opportunities to increase their job responsibilities as well as learn new and relevant skills to fast-track their promotions.

These shifts in work trends mean that experienced professionals will have to adopt a growth mindset and keep up with the march of technology. They need to unlearn, learn and re-learn, not just to stay relevant and employable, but also fulfill their long-term career ambitions. 

“What in-demand skills should I learn?”

The first step is to identify the gaps and types of new skills that are needed for the jobs of the future which you have yet to acquire. 

Subscribe to reputable news outlets and industry reports from global research firms and recruitment agencies to keep track of what’s happening in the market, and stay updated on the most in-demand skills by employers.

These companies are usually closely connected to economic market movements and work with a large network of thought leaders to share first-hand market intelligence on upcoming trends and changes, and how to prepare for them. 

The “The Impact of Wider Integration of Data Analytics and Automation on Manpower in the Singapore Financial Services Sector” EY report highlighted data storytelling, data interpretation and analysis as well as influencing and negotiation as some of the in-demand skills that finance professionals should be equipped with. 

In addition to acquiring these new skills, employees will need to apply them at work to prove their value and remain employable. For example, professionals who have applied their knowledge of data storytelling in a real work scenario are seen as ‘unicorn candidates’ and it is not uncommon for them to receive multiple highly-compelling offers from banks and fintechs.

“How do I acquire these in-demand skills?”

As companies continue to explore new products, services and markets, finance professionals will have to work with their employers to upskill and match up to what is expected from them. 

Employees can proactively research for online masterclasses, industry forums or new courses that can help elevate their value and propose them to their line managers and HR teams. Explain how these new skills can enable you to be more efficient at work, or demonstrate the potential value you can contribute to the business. 

Singapore citizens and permanent residents are also entitled to SkillsFuture credits that they can use to acquire new skills. The programmes are designed to future-proof our career by deepening our skills, knowledge and experience beyond our current qualifications.

Remain engaged in your new community and practice your new skills at work.

It is not enough to know a programming language just because it seems like an important skill to have. It is more important to hone your new skills and apply what you’ve learned in an actual work situation.

For instance, you can learn to apply your data storytelling skills or a new programming language to improve the quality of your financial reports, enhance customer experience or reduce unnecessary costs. Focus on the initiatives that could have a positive impact on your work or the business.

After attending a course, continue to engage with the people you’ve met and join online communities, industry forums and networking events to keep up with the latest news, exchange ideas and learn from each other. You may find yourself learning more from these interpersonal engagements than the course itself.

Create a culture of learning

Singapore Airlines allows employees from across all functions and seniority levels, including the cabin crew and ground staff, to contribute ideas that can help improve service quality. Looking at their track record in service excellence, this approach has definitely paid off. 

They have in fact been voted as the most attractive employer to work for in Singapore by 2,504 people in the 2019 Randstad Employer Brand Research. 

As a senior-level professional, you have the authority to create and promote a culture of sharing. The workforce should feel empowered to come up with new ideas and solutions on how to improve the way they work while meeting business goals. This means creating an environment where ‘no idea is a bad idea’ is practiced, and encouraging or incentivising employees to share ideas and collaborate with each other.