Financial services firms in the UK are putting upskilling and retraining staff at the forefront of future business strategy and transformation plans, a new survey suggests.
Research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and PwC 74% of companies see staff training as a top priority as businesses across the economy struggle to access people and skills.
Advances in technology & business transformation (69%) and achieving operational resilience (68%) were second and third most common priorities, respectively, for future strategy and transformation plans.
Sentiment across the financial services sector remained poor in the quarter to June, falling at broadly at the same quick rate as the previous three months.
This was despite business conditions remaining relatively positive and profitability growth accelerating, although business volumes were flat, the survey said.
"The erosion of business confidence seen in the last financial services survey has pulled through to this quarter, likely reflecting concerns about the impact of high inflation on the economy," said Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI. "With pressure expected to persist throughout the year, there’s a real need for government to press ahead with confidence-boosting measures now."
Meanwhile, headcount grew at its fastest pace since December 2019, as employment grew 12%.
Most companies expect regulation (71%), changes in customer preferences and behaviours (62%), acceleration in digital technologies (55%), and skills shortages (52%) to drive disruption in the year ahead.
The research also showed that 48% of firms have initiatives to support consumer and/or commercial clients with the rising cost of living and the cost of doing business. A further fifth (21%) of businesses said they were planning to set up schemes in the future.
"It’s also welcome to see so many firms taking steps to support customers and business clients through the cost-of-living crisis," Newton-Smith added. "From improving access to finance and better financial education, FS firms have a range of tools to help households cope with rising costs."
Isabelle Jenkins, leader of Financial Services at PwC UK, said: "With a fierce war for talent impacting the financial services sector, it makes sense that firms are putting retaining experienced staff at the top of their to-do list.
"What we are seeing through today’s results show that financial services firms are aware that the fundamentals have been reset, and the breadth of competition for well trained staff means that firms will need to ensure that they can offer the kind of culture, environment and purpose that will attract and keep the very best."
The survey of 78 financial services firms was conducted between 30 May and 17 June.
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