Financial services firms lack the talent they need to succeed

Published at 11:10 AM on 23 February 2015

70% of chief executives in the financial services sector see the limited availability of key skills as a threat to their growth prospects, a global survey by PwC shows.

Based on interviews with 410 financial services (FS) chief executives, the survey finds that the disruptive impact of new technology, complex regulation and new competition in the sector has created new challenges for employers looking to hire in the months ahead.

The PwC report ‘A new take on talent’ shows that more than half of financial services business leaders are planning to increase their headcount over the next 12 months, with asset management the most likely of any sector in the survey to be taking on new staff. 

According to the report, concerns centre on the shortage of employees with the right combination of skills, with more than three quarters (78%) of executives looking for a broader range of skills when hiring than they did in the past.

The number of executives seeing skills shortages as a threat has risen from a high of 59% last year. Yet few seem to have a true grasp of the challenge at stake in righting this.

Technology is named as the most significant challenge among banking, insurance and asset management leaders. From the development of sharper human resources analytics to tapping into new pools of talent, most financial services firms are only just beginning to face these hurdles, creating opportunities for forward thinking and faster-moving businesses to pull ahead.

In tandem, some feel that the industry’s image has been eroded, making it harder to compete with other industries in attracting people with prized skills. It is telling that 62% of survey respondents see lack of trust as a threat to growth, even higher than last year.

90% believe that greater talent diversity would improve their ability to attract talent. 85% of those leaders surveyed believe it would enhance performance whilst 79% say it would improve their ability to innovate. 58% say they have a strategy in place to promote diversity and inclusiveness and a further 20% say they plan to develop one.

Almost half of those surveyed by PwC say they plan to enter into a new joint venture or strategic alliance over the coming year. Nearly 40% see this as a way to access new and emerging technologies and to acquire the talent required.

Changing needs within the sector mean that employees with breadth rather than depth of knowledge are most sought by organisations creating more flexible and customer-centric experiences. These workers may lack specialist product expertise but their broader skills mean they are better able to move between clients, countries and assignments with flexible technical skills and multi-industry experience.

Jon Terry, PwC’s Global FS HR consulting leader said:

“The key challenge financial services chief executives globally are faced with is how to attract, train and retrain people who for example, combine digital and industry-specific skills – few as yet possess such hybrid capabilities. The sudden demand for more people in areas such as risk and compliance has created an inevitable shortage.

“Our survey shows that in most cases, financial services organisations do not have the talent they need to succeed. Only 5% are confident they can secure all the skills they need.

“The findings also show that industry leaders recognise the extraordinary challenges they face.  A new take on talent and how it is deployed are going to be vital in turning the challenge of industry disruption to an opportunity.”



Notes to Editors:

PwC’s report ‘A new take on talent’ is based on the response from 410 FS CEOs in 62 countries. To see the full results of PwC’s 18th Annual Global Survey, please visit


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