New technologies, changing customer expectations and a competitive business environment impact financial firms and their workforces in Switzerland. Financial firms are aware of the need to transform to be successful in the future. The measures and best practices they apply are analyzed and presented in this study. The analysis showed that there is no single successful approach, and that successful firms engage in a variety of activities to transform their workforce, learn fast and are capable to adapt to changing needs. The analysis also showed that the focus of financial firms is to educate, to re-educate and to create a culture of change in the workforce. The objective of this study was to examine how financial firms transform in the light of the outlined market and technology developments. More precisely, what measures do financial firms take regarding their workforces to meet changing customer expectations, to adopt new technologies, and to stay competitive in the market. Customer experience is the key driver of change in the financial industry. Financial firms have recognized that customer needs are changing based on customer centric experiences from other industries. In the new era of financial industry, where switching costs are low the bargaining power of customers has significantly increased. Digital workforce enablement is inevitable in a world where every interaction becomes digital. Financial firms are taking measures to prepare their workforce to master becoming more digital and interact with the customers accordingly. They are offering educational content on digital technology and enable digital collaboration through digital collaboration tools. Incubation and innovation are key transformational aspects since the pace and dynamic of the financial industry has significantly changed. Financial firms need to incubate and innovate faster, adapt to customer needs and implement new technologies in a way that benefits the organization. Financial firms take measures to embrace an innovative mindset in the work-force, pursue novel partnerships in ecosystems and enable the so called “startup mentality” in their organizations. Agility and agile culture is needed to foster an innovation and incubation on an organizational level The study found out that financial firms are moving away from rigid hierarchical structures to a more agile way of working. Financial firms are aware that working in teams and generating bottom-up innovations have become a necessity. Also, new performance systems are introduced as measures to award team spirit and collaborative working. The simplification of the application landscape is inevitable for financial firms to increase speed-to-market. Over the years, financial firms embedded many applications in their existing IT landscape which led to slowness and inefficiencies. The interviewed leaders recognize that the IT legacy is an obstacle for speed-to-market and good customer experience. IT legacy also hinders financial firms to effectively compete with new players entering the market. New players can build their application landscape from scratch and in a customer-oriented way which allow new entrants to provide exceptional customer experience at affordable prices. Automation & efficiency programs are needed because financial firms face operational efficiency pressures due to competition and changing regulations. Financial firms are much aware that 40% to 60% of current jobs in the financial industry could be automated in the future. Thus, financial firms are preparing their workforces with education and re-education measures, create new job roles and promote self-directed learning. Particularly, the study found out that the responsibility to prepare for the future is shifting from employer to employees. The employer provides the possibilities and it is up to the employees to prepare for future job roles. The study covered the measures taken by the financial firms to transform. However, our study shows that not enough urgency in the workforce is created to achieve the desired changes. Only if the measures can drive change on an organizational level, a financial firm can go through a successful transformation and remain competitive in the future.
Benjamin van Giffen, Walter Brenner, Nithujan Prathapan