Financial services sector demands new skills to address tech and climate change challenges

Jul 12th, 2022

[L-R] Ruth Bishop, Chair of IFS Skillnet Steering Group, and Head of Strategic Leadership Development, Allianz SE; Patricia Callan, Director, Financial Services Ireland Group; Simon Harris T.D., Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science; Tracey Donnery, Director of Policy and Communications, Skillnet Ireland; Joe Heneghan, FSI Vice Chair and CEO of Revolut Europe

A new report from the International Financial Services (IFS) Skillnet has highlighted new skills required in Ireland’s financial services sector, as it navigates an increasingly digital future and the challenges of climate change, according to a new report released today.

A strong and diverse talent pool is critical to enable Ireland to become a top 20 global financial centre by 2025 according to the new report.

Developed with support from Skillnet Ireland, the report, Financial Services in Ireland – Skills of the Future, emphasises the importance of making Ireland the principal location for talent and expertise in the international financial services sector. The report adds that talent and expertise will be key in enabling the country to become a top 20 global financial centre by 2025.

According to the report, positions in the sector are changing dramatically due to technological advancements, and new skills are needed to drive initiatives including data analytics, artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technologies.

The report includes findings from interviews, focus groups and surveys from leaders in the industry.

 

Sustainable finance and fintech see greatest opportunities

Sustainable finance (69%) and fintech (47%) were identified as the greatest opportunities for the sector.

However, the report stressed the urgent need to prepare the current and future workforce to support sustainable finance. According to the research, there is a growing gap between the current availability of sustainable finance skills and what will be required to support growth in the field.

The need for greater gender diversity was also highlighted. The report notes that fostering and harnessing the talent and experience of all women in financial services is crucial in developing a strong pipeline of talent.

 

Threat to talent pipeline

The report also indicates that a shortage of a well-rounded skill set that includes both role-specific hard skills (technical) and in-demand soft skills needed by today’s organisations represents a threat to the health of the talent pipeline.

The main skills gaps identified by the research were data analytics and machine learning (18%), digital transformation (18%), and risk and compliance (18%).

The report highlights that Ireland is competing against multiple other locations for hosting financial services and the sector is competing against others at a time of labour shortages throughout the economy. Specifically, it notes that “trying to be the lowest cost provider is not an optimal choice given both the inherent cost base in Ireland and, more importantly, the growth in other areas with added value.”

 

Recommendations

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

  • Extending existing talent initiatives that increase access to in-demand skills, such as the IFS Skillnet and IFS, Insurance and Accounting Apprenticeships to help students and employees build work-ready skills
  • Attract talent early through well thought out strategically planned processes
  • Attract transition talent by showcasing modern financial institutions as technology-centric, innovative, world-class employers
  • Broaden recruitment filters to ensure that they are responsive to the changing nature of skills and experience
  • Focus on upskilling and reskilling as an opportunity for mid-career employees

 

Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said: “The ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent is essential to the sector’s continued success. As we see in the report, new college and university graduates will continue to act as the foundation upon which the future of Ireland’s financial services talent pipeline is built, particularly the subset of graduates who possess the skills that are most important to the sector’s digital future. The Government is committed to supporting the industry in meeting these needs as is evidenced by the continued growth in options for people, with a new level 9 international financial services advanced specialist apprenticeship in development.”

Tracey Donnery, Director of Communications and Policy, Skillnet Ireland noted the increased influence of technology on the sector and how developing talent can help meet the challenges the sector faces.

“As Ireland’s financial services sector navigates an increasingly digital future, focusing on talent and skills is critical. This change will be fuelled by the increasing pace of technological innovation, as well as the convergence of finance and technology evidenced by the rapid growth of fintech and digital finance. Responding to the increasing importance of environmental, social, and governance, and sustainable finance will also be vital. Today’s report and its recommendations will enable the industry to develop the talent to meet the challenges ahead and maintain Ireland’s leading position,” said Donnery.

Financial Services Ireland Group Director Patricia Callan commented: “As the report states, Ireland is home to a vibrant and dynamic global financial services sector. Banking, insurance, asset management, funds industry, fintech, and securities markets contribute to a robust, diversified financial services ecosystem, employing over 52,000 people and generating €19.3 billion in GDP for Ireland. It is vital that we take action in the areas identified in the report to ensure we not only protect the jobs currently in the sector but build on the huge potential that international growth, particularly in the fintech sector, offers to Ireland”.

 

Learn more

To read the full report, click here.

To learn more about IFS Skillnet, click here.

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