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HOW MICROLEARNING CAN LEAD THE CHARGE IN RESKILLING THE FINANCIAL SERVICES WORKFORCE

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By Daniel Mason, VP EMEA at Visier 

 

The success of any industry relies on a multitude of factors. But one which often takes the limelight is the need for talent with a specialist set of skills that enable a business to flourish. As a result, plugging the skills gap is at the front of mind for many business leaders as we enter 2022. From the recent news on staff shortages in nursing, to a dramatic lack of lorry drivers, all industries are being forced out of necessity to take on new measures to overcome the lack of skills.

The financial services sector is also feeling the strain of the skills gap, uncovered by our own research. More than half of employees said they are worried that their career will stall if they do not develop more skills, causing complications for job retention and employee satisfaction. In turn, this insecurity about skills is translating into an existential threat to the business itself. Less than six in ten workers reported feeling confident that their employer is bringing in the right people to keep pace with clients’ expectations for digital services.

However, employers need insight to be able to address the impact of the growing skills gap in the sector. One of the ways they can do this is by embracing people analytics tools to better understand where the skills gaps might exist, and the detrimental impacts that these will present over the coming years. In doing so, organisations have the opportunity to implement pre-emptive measures that can reduce churn, boost competitiveness, and lead to better quality financial services delivery.

Despite the worrying figures, the financial services sector as a whole is moving in the right direction. For example, our journey towards a more cashless society has accelerated, as contactless and online payments soar in reaction to the transmission risks associated with cash handling. And what we don’t see, is the skills training behind the scenes required to make this possible.

Dynamic shifts like this highlight a level of determination from the financial services sector to reskill employees to ensure that they are armed with the tools and training needed to tackle skills-related challenges in the new year..

 

Adopting microlearning into your workforce

There are many lessons other industries can take from financial services and its approach to skills training and development.

One trend is the adoption of microlearning. Centred around embracing strategic, bite-sized learning to reskill teams and managers on the job, it offers a contemporary alternative to corporate skills programmes that were defined by traditional classroom settings and off-site training.

With in-the-moment learning, employees can develop skills at their own pace by accessing content through their desktop or mobile devices. This can cover everything from technical skills for coders to soft skills for managers leading their teams through the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

What financial services firms have done well is advance microlearning from an ad hoc process to an institutionalised norm set within wider strategic plans based around identifying gaps in knowledge.

 

How to boost skills development in 2022

So, how can firms from other sectors start to embrace microlearning and ensure their approach to reskilling and upskilling is successful?

As a starting point, data should underpin any strategy. Before setting out on building your skills strategy for 2022, data should be obtained on which tasks are best suited for automation, business direction, the skills to get there and the intermediate roles that people should consider to help achieve their goals. Furthermore, data-driven coaching represents one way of closing skills gaps. This involves leveraging career pathing data which shows how employees can transition from one role to the next. Opportunity marketplaces, for example, have emerged during the pandemic as a way to promote workforce agility by moving people to where they are needed most, thus enabling employees to learn through new on the job experiences.

It is also important to appreciate that a series of micro-changes can combine to become greater than the sum of their parts. Once again, data will help demonstrate this. With a unified analytics platform that connects learning, employees, and business data, business leaders can instantly see the impact of learning activities on key business metrics such as productivity and even absenteeism.

But, we must not forget soft skills either. Despite the natural inclination to believe that tech skills are predominantly what is needed in today’s modern digital society, the reality is that soft skills are more important than ever, especially for managers. According to a study of US companies, the skills most needed in a post-pandemic world are innately human. These include agility and flexibility, teamwork and collaboration, and global and strategic thinking.

Although such skills shortages are not a new issue, the urgency for closing the skills gap is obvious as it continues to impact employees and employers in financial services equally. Financial services companies must recognise that whilst they can lean on technology to bridge this gap as traditional methods continue to become outdated, leaders will also need to build effective microskilling roadmaps that are flexible and agile to unlock the full potential of their workforce.

 

Finance

Why You Should Work on Your Financial Literacy

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Ebo Aneju

 

A lack of financial understanding plagues our society. Most people have very little understanding of finances, which means they struggle when making crucial financial decisions.

Making correct financial decisions is more critical than ever. The UK is currently in a cost of living crisis, and inflation has risen to around 9%. This means many people are seeing their disposable income fall quite rapidly.

Buying essentials such as energy and fuel is becoming increasingly difficult for many households as you will have noticed, fuel and energy prices with the energy inflation rate at an incredible 28%!

This means working on finances and ensuring you can sustain your lifestyle is something we currently need to focus on. Falling into debt is something that you should definitely avoid!

Read on to find out more about financial literacy and how it can help you manage your living costs.

What is Financial Literacy?

Financial literacy is the ability to use and understand various financial skills. For example, if your financial literacy is strong, you should be able to use skills such as budgeting and investing to make correct financial decisions.

This includes decisions such as mortgages and opening bank accounts. Mortgages are some of the most important financial decisions people will ever make. Mortgage payments will take a large chunk of your monthly income, and it’s a big commitment.

Financial literacy isn’t only about lifelong decisions such as mortgages. Improving your financial literacy will help more minor priorities such as your daily spending and subscriptions.

How Can Improving Your Financial Literacy Benefit You?

Ideally, everyone should have a good understanding of financial literacy. Borrowing money is a large part of modern life, with most people using loans regularly. Loans are not a bad thing and are, in fact, very helpful, but unmanaged borrowing can be very dangerous.

Strengthening your financial literacy can help you properly acknowledge the risks of borrowing money. This means you’ll be able to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to see if taking out a loan will benefit you in the long run.

This will prevent you from getting into some sticky situations where you overestimate your repayment abilities. Deferring on a loan will have many repercussions that will last most of your life.

Improved financial literacy can also help you manage day-to-day spending. One skill in the package of financial literacy is budgeting. Budgeting effectively will help you decrease unnecessary spending and increase savings.

A more significant savings account will help you apply for a mortgage. Furthermore, you’ll be able to react to any unexpected expenses that come your way. This will also help you increase your financial stability.

Increasing your financial literacy also means improving skills such as investing. Investing can help you increase the size of your savings and also your monthly income if done correctly. This will again help you fight against rising costs due to inflation.

Methods to improve your financial literacy

Start Budgeting

Budgeting is beneficial and pretty simple to start. A budget is a financial plan for a period of time and will help you track what you’re spending and increase your savings.

Budgets are pretty simple to outline nowadays. Many budget apps can help you track your spending and monitor your spending vs your saving. Make sure your budget is realistic, and you can actually stick to it.

Keep tabs on your Credit Score

Your credit score is fundamental when taking out any loans. A good credit score will give you access to the lowest interest rates, which will make the loan a lot cheaper.

Moreover, if your credit score is very poor, some lenders will be unwilling to lend you money, making finding loans much more complicated. A healthy credit score will make it easier and cheaper to take out loans. This will help boost your financial literacy in the long run.

Give Yourself a Savings Goal

Many people struggle to save because they don’t stick to their saving goals. One trick is to set out some money as soon as you get paid. By effectively paying into your savings account first, it makes sure you focus on boosting your savings account.

Most people wait until the end of the month and put any spare change in their savings account. Although this can work if you’re consistent, it’s very tempting to blow the extra cash on some new shoes or other luxuries. If you set out money for savings first, you won’t have to deal with this temptation.

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Business

A new beginning for financial services B2B marketing

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Financial services B2B marketing is dead. A bold statement with B2B ad spend set to pass $30bn next year in the US alone. But it is dead, or at least, it’s dead boring.

B2B marketing has long carried a reputation for being dull, lacking emotion, heart or guts. Indeed, the same could be said for financial services, with its technical jargon, long-winded T&Cs and an array of complex services and products to promote. Put the two together and you have a considerable marketing challenge on your hands.

Michael Richards

But there are green shoots of change springing up on the beige horizon, as financial services businesses begin to recognise that they deserve better and start to see the lessons to be learned from their B2C peers. For example, many financial services B2B brands moved to digital to refine client experiences and grow relationships during the pandemic, meaning they could connect with businesses in a more accessible way through tailored and creative solutions. But it’s not enough to just convince a business to buy a product or service with a smattering of data and a selection of charts. There needs to be a focus on provoking the truth about these progressive brands; giving them what they deserve: intelligence, imagination and emotion to provoke their truths and tell their stories in ways that just can’t be ignored.

There are so many financial services B2B brands that are missing the mark on creating provocative work and telling their stirring stories. The industry is full of inspiring stories but needs to adopt the techniques of B2C (and fast) to avoid being left behind.

Below, I’ve outlined three approaches B2B financial services marketing should take from B2C:

 

Be 100% brand and 0% product

Let’s look at the lessons we can learn from one of the biggest brands in the world. Coca Cola used to advertise on a single poster with simple descriptive messaging that didn’t make a lot of sense … but that was in the early decades of the 20th century. Coke is now one of the most instantly recognisable brands in the world. It has evolved so much from that early uninspiring product messaging that some Coke ads today feature nothing more than a red background, a white glass bottle silhouette and the message ‘Open Happiness’. 0% product, 100% brand.

Financial services business brands can learn a lot from this. Very few are tapping into the vocabulary of emotional marketing. They sell their product in line with industry jargon, expecting their ever-changing audience to understand what they mean. When really their product or service should be learning to speak a new language. One that showcases the brand over the product, communicating to their audience with a personality and values of their own.

No company can rely solely on their product features because no product is unique anymore. The power of a brand can generate that differentiating value that will set it apart from the competition.

 

Use data to personalise your offer

Data is the beating heart to personalisation. It gives businesses the foundation to build a product that is bigger and better than its competitor. One that entices new audiences while maintaining loyalty.

Consumer brands are obsessed with collecting data to better their product and reach audiences far and wide. In fact, nearly 90% of UK shoppers will hand over their personal information for improved online customer experiences.

B2B businesses also use data, but on a much narrower scale. In a survey of B2B companies, only 25% of B2B businesses use data weekly to understand customer needs, while 9% admitted they never use data at all. This is evident given that 47% of B2B buyers who need a new financial service go straight to their existing bank, and 75% of those who claim to shop around also end up with their current bank. Most buyers don’t even consider more than two brands. Meaning lots get left behind.

This is where B2B marketing shouldn’t just rest on its laurels of tedious white papers and limited data. It should inject its own personal touch and emotion by undertaking its own research and data collection to produce insightful pieces of research and showcase its unique findings. This can include specific consumer trends and behaviours in the financial services space, so they can really understand their audience and further improve their product.

 

Be audience aware

Audience Blindness is a condition that hinders B2B brands from seeing that business decision-makers have changed. They have become younger; they’re millennials. The content they consume is worlds apart from what their predecessors consumed and is constantly evolving – particularly as we enter Web 3.0 and the metaverse.

Even in the finance sector, B2B marketing is still about appealing to ‘people’ and their needs. B2B isn’t a machine and shouldn’t just cater for a computer. It needs to connect to real life audiences – those with feelings, thoughts and emotions. Because behind every business partnership is a room full of people interacting, debating and sparking ideas.

The B2C financial services sector has progressed significantly, understanding changes in audiences and catering to new needs and desires. The rise in neo-banking, investment made easy and services specifically for young adults and children looking to save is testament to this. They’ve introduced digital-first approaches, influencer techniques and new ways of improving the shopping experience through buy now, pay later (BNPL).

We’ve seen glimpses of B2B’s new beginning, but its future is to live in the present, and inject it with the power of B2C. Only then can B2B see the new audience, hear the new market and feel the new world.

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