COVID-19 has profoundly shifted how financial services workers want to do their jobs in the future, with one in two wanting to continue to work from home for at least part of the week once the pandemic passes, according to a new report by KPMG and the Financial Services Skills Commission.
The sector has been able to successfully transition to a remote working model, with 78% of financial services workers surveyed saying they’ve been able to work effectively from home during this period. For a quarter (26%), these new ways of working have been so positive that they are keen to work from home full time. Some are considering even more significant changes, with one in ten (13%) looking for a change of location, be that home or office, after the pandemic.
Whilst different generations within the workforce have historically held contrasting views on ways of working, the preference for more flexibility is consistent across age groups. The findings show financial services workers aged 31-45 are the most driven to work more flexibly (53%) and workers under 30 are the keenest to work from home permanently (28%).
Mel Newton, Head of Financial Services People Consulting at KPMG UK, said:
“COVID-19 has created a global shift in ways of working. With much of the workforce scattered across a variety of home-offices, kitchen tables, and spare bedrooms, this has presented both difficulty and, in some cases, welcome flexibility.
“It is important to note that only half of the workforce want to continue working this way, and that clear division is important. It demonstrates that flexibility is more than just allowing people to work from home on the occasional Friday – what the future workforce wants is personal choice. Following the pandemic, employers can’t offer blanket solutions when it comes to how their employees work. They will make the best of their talent if they employ them more thoughtfully.”
While the majority of the workforce has been able to work remotely successfully, many finance workers believe that their pre-COVID skills are not fully sufficient to perform effectively in the ‘new reality’. One in three (30%) said they need more digital expertise, while only a quarter have been offered digital training by their employers. Furthermore, 21% said they are relying on different management and leadership skills whilst working remotely, yet only 17% have been offered training on it.
With one in ten (12%) workers saying their employer has not done anything to equip them for the changing circumstances, it would appear upskilling opportunities have not increased proportionally to bridge what could be a growing skills gap.
“The last few months has brought the skills challenges facing the UK financial services sector into greater focus. As we have experienced a huge leap forwards in digitisation and remote working, the need to upskill our employees in digital and technological expertise is more important than ever. Increased investment in our employees’ future skills, alongside a sophisticated remote and flexible working offer, will help the UK financial services firms address the skills crisis the sector has been facing, attract talent, and position it for a successful future.”