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Better prospects with a mix of financial, IT skills

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Future careers in the financial services industry will undoubtedly require a skills set comprising finance and information technology.

Manpower South Africa MD Lyndy van den Barselaar says that, because of the continued amalgamation of services between these two industries, employees will need to develop both skills sets in order to advance within the industry in the near future.

“Globally, financial services institutions have been quick to advance the adoption of technology in order to increase efficiencies within their operations, and also to attract and retain consumers. The adoption of this approach has influenced employment patterns for financial services businesses, aiming to increase their competitive edge.

“To continually be at the forefront of product and customer interface innovation, companies within the financial services industry will be more willing to entertain potential employees who have training and experience in both industries. It will be highly beneficial for businesses to have employees that demonstrate not only an understanding of financial services product for clients or customers, but also those who have an appreciation of how the advancement of technology will provide additional benefits to the customer,” she says.

“We need only look at the huge strides South African financial services businesses have made in terms of utilising technology to draw in more customers. The adoption of technology in terms of customer–bank interaction has significantly increased efficiencies for the company, and has advanced higher expectations from customers on how easy banking should be.”

She highlights that, further into Africa, financial services businesses have sought to use the adoption of mobile technology to significantly decrease the number of people who remain unbanked – significantly increasing the number of people contributing to the formal economy.

“Without the promulgation of online connectivity in these areas, and the extremely fast growth of smart device penetration, achieving higher percentages of ‘banked’ people would not have been possible.”

Mark McCallum, director and head of global services: Africa at Orange Business Services, notes that banks in developing markets have jumped at the opportunity to position themselves not only as service providers, but also emphasised the human element, which resonates with first-time bankers.

“Depending on the unique circumstances associated with the maturity of different banking systems in different countries, different levels of adoption prevail. Banks in developing nations are therefore obliged to take a lead in the training and education of potential and existing clients to increase their business. To achieve this, banks in developing nations have had to enter into partnerships with telecommunications companies, which required a paradigm shift,” he explains.

In 2014, Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson released a report detailing the continued growth in mobile subscriptions particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, with mobile subscriptions “predicted to rise to around 930-million by the end of 2019”.

Similarly, data released by the World Bank stated that less than 29% of people over the age of 15 in the Africa region had a traditional bank account, but 10 percent possessed an alternative banking system through the use of mobile connectivity, a figure that rose to over 50% for countries like Gabon, Kenya and Sudan. The sub-Saharan region recorded a percentage of 16 for customers that used their mobile phones for banking purposes – a figure larger than any other global region.

“But now, financial services businesses have gone down a path from which there is no return. Now that the expectation has been created within consumers of constant innovation from their banking service provider, these businesses will need to ensure that they are always innovating to remain relevant and retain their customers. Therefore, financial services businesses will need to employ more professionals with the necessary skills to ensure this constant innovation,” Van den Barselaar says.