Jason Downes, MD at conference calling provider, Powwownow
In the last few years the financial sector has been confronted by new technological innovations that have been disrupting the traditional ways of working. Almost all parts of the financial sector are being reworked due to rapid growth in technology and the rise of tech start-ups. All this is contributing to the changes in the way that people work. Traditional finance services are seeing this and reacting to what once seemed like a static sector. Here I take a look at how the workplace is changing for finance professionals.
The use of technology
Associated with long working hours in the office, the financial sector has been gradually embracing flexible working. Particularly, now with new laws in place, making it compulsory for all employers to seriously consider flexible working requests and with people being more aware of the importance of having a good work-life balance – our own research found that over three quarters (77%) of employees believe that flexible working makes a job more attractive. This can be credited to new tech and innovation, which is giving businesses and individuals the tools to work flexibly and effectively to get the job done. For instance, banks like Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of England have now implemented a flexible working culture, they see the benefits it has on the business as well as for their employees – quite simply a happier workforce means a more motivated and productive one.
However flexible working is just one of the results of innovation; we have also seen a rise in fintech companies that are making technology unavoidably intertwined with finance. Fintech companies have been quick to embrace technologies that make their businesses more efficient and productive. These businesses are usually start-ups and need to find effective ways to communicate and collaborate and they are using online platforms such as video conferencing to do this. Not only does video conferencing allow them to have meetings without the hassle of travelling, it can also be used as a collaborative tool, through file sharing and editing technologies. A major benefit of these tools is that they reduce the need for business travel and face-to-face meetings. Our research found that a third of people find face-to-face meetings to be a waste of time.
There also has been a noticeable shift in how the office is structured to accommodate modern ways of working for financial companies,like every business,they want to find the most efficient and cost effective ways to work. One of the solutions has been to reduce the amount of office space needed, to reduce cost in the long term. We have noticed more and more companies in the financial sector doing this by implementing hot-desking and using co-working spaces such as The Office Group. This, combined with the use of video conferencing technology means they can hire less office space but remain just as efficient.
These workspaces also encourage employees to co-work and mingle with different members of the team, creating a more open environment.
The traditional financial sector has notoriously found it hard to recruit graduates over recent years, facing stiff competition from modern fintech start-ups – so they need to move with the times. Technological innovations have completely changed how people interact with employers and what people look for in a job. Recruiting has become more competitive and complex and the financial sector faces challenges attracting top candidates, as potential employees look for jobs that meet their requirements. Our own research has found over half (55%) of the UK workforce said that flexible working had become crucial when looking for their next job. In particular, the traditional sector will have a tougher time, as top talent moves in favour of fintech companies offering a more modern work-life balance.
The traditional 9-5 office working day is becoming outdated, even for a traditional sector like finance. It no longer meets the needs of the modern-day workforce, which expects a work-life balance as a minimum requirement when taking a job. It is good to see the financial sector gradually embracing this and integrating modern ways of working, but they must remain savvy with the technology they implement, the structure of the workplace and their recruitment strategies to avoid missing out on the best financial talent to tech startups down the road.