Is it the end of “How may I help you?”
Fintech and digital technology have dramatically transformed the financial services landscape. Banks and other financial institutions are now offering a myriad of digital self-services, such as online trading apps and digital tools for financial planning via smartphones and social media. On the one hand, all this innovation has provided fresh opportunities to serve customers with cutting-edge technology, but on the other hand, the company’s personnel are feeling the pressure to stay relevant.
According to a global survey by data aggregator Emolument, 47% of financial services employees believe technology is putting their job at risk. The growing tendency of financial firms to cut jobs in favor of automation has become a worrying phenomenon.
With a new report by McKinsey predicting that automation may wipe out up to 30% of the hours worked globally by 2030, every professional – especially those in financial services – must plan for the impact of the digital transformation on their career.
One of the main roles in the financial service sector most threatened by an artificial intelligence (AI) takeover is the role requiring interaction with consumers. According to Business Insider, these include employees working in retail banking, lending and financing, payments and transfers, wealth and asset management, markets and exchanges, and insurance.
For example, the use of robo-advisors is becoming more widespread, helping clients build and adjust their own investment portfolios instead of with human managers, or in collaboration with them. Eventually, robo-advisors will simply perform the majority of the work, and it’s not that hard to foresee human employees being phased out almost completely. Jobs that require actual manpower are likely to be phased out as well, such as bank tellers. As more and more consumers choose mobile and digital banking, they are visiting the bank less often. As a result, bank employees are experiencing layoffs and physical branches are being shuttered with alarming frequency.
However, there are still some areas within financial services that are unlikely to be impacted by automation, at least for the immediate future. As automation rolls out on a wide scale, staff will be needed to train the software and deal with more complex or strategic issues. These are roles that require personnel to have strong soft skills — like personal attention and empathy — that cannot be replicated (yet!) by machines and they will always be in demand.
The good news is that while the FinTech explosion will certainly affect many jobs, it will create new ones as well. For example, as alternate currencies and blockchain technologies become increasingly integrated into the finance industry, there will be a greater need for roles in security fields like encryption and identity protection. A wider and more diverse range of careers in security-related matters will evolve and offer new opportunities for finance professionals. In fact, IT Services firm, Cognizant, goes one step further with its enlightening Jobs of the Future report, which highlights 21 jobs that it believes will be created by virtue of technological advancements and automation, such as Augmented Reality Journey Builder, Personal Data Broker, Man-Machine Teaming Manager, and Financial Wellness Coach. Clearly, these are jobs that did not exist a few years ago.
As a financial services professional, you will want to stay up to date with the ever-changing innovations in the industry and seek opportunities to expand your skill set to include VAT management. What Bob Dylan said 50 years ago is still as relevant today as it was then: “the times they are a changin,” and if you change with the times in order to stay relevant, then you can be more confident in your ability to maintain gainful employment in the financial sector.
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