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Workforce Disruption In Financial Institutions Industry Means HR Must Become More Strategic

Oct 16, 2019
By: Julia A. Johnson
Financial Institutions

Digital disruption is changing the financial institutions industry.  

We don’t know what the financial institutions of tomorrow will look like. We do know people will be a driving force in whether our organizations keep up with change (or better yet, get out ahead). 

Technology is taking over the jobs people used to do. One report suggests that by 2025, machines will take over 30% of the work done at retail financial institutions. And frankly, I suspect that number is kind of low. 

As the industry changes, having the right people with the right skills will become increasingly important. Financial institution leaders who are thinking about industry evolution must also think about how talent fits into that strategy. 

By some accounts, financial institutions are taking note and placing a higher priority on top-level human resource roles. As they should. To my mind’s eye, there’s never been a more critical time for human resources to be in direct partnership with leadership, linking organizational strategy to a people-centered roadmap for executing that strategy. 

How HR can become more strategic

HR leaders who have traditionally been viewed in roles like recruiter, administrator or policy enforcer will need to make a shift to promoting HR strategy. But to take on a strategic role, HR must demonstrate that they play an essential role in business results. The highest-valued HR leaders will be ones who can link their people strategies to business strategies. These leaders take ownership of driving business results via human capital, and they plan — proactively and strategically— to support the organization’s business goals.  

Workforce trends in financial institutions 

Automation, machine learning, mobile, self-service, artificial intelligence — these technologies are already having a real impact on core business functions. As banks and credit unions rethink the way they operate, the most successful talent strategies will be the ones that keep pace.

Some trends: 

  • Automation will reduce the workforce — far beyond the retail level.
  • The rapid pace of change requires agile talent that’s prepared and adaptable to career shifts.
  • Ongoing transformation will require ongoing retraining.
  • Organizations (and individuals) will need new skills to stay competitive.
  • Shifting talent strategies could impact customer relationships.

Organizations will need people who can transform the organization — as visionaries and technical experts as well as emotionally intelligent change agents who understand the people side of organizational shifts.

Learn more about strategic HR and how HR can become more strategic in our new article, HR strategy: Create a proactive people-plan that speaks to your leaders’ real goals.


Julia A. Johnson
Director, Organizational Performance
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