The question of what Brexit will mean for staffing in the financial services sector is a hard question to answer given so little is known of what Brexit itself really means. What it does do however is dramatically highlight a much broader industry issue – the shrinking talent pool and growing skills shortage.
So how does the industry intend to approach this issue and along with it, the vast considerations and ramifications of impending Brexit?
First, let’s look at the facts. In its 2017 financial services 20th CEO Survey report PwC warns: “New strategies to find and train people won’t be enough. Organisations will have to collaborate with government, educational and vocational institutes and employees to redesign the entire system within which people work.”
77% of the CEOs surveyed, are worried that skills shortages would impede their companies’ future growth. The skills shortage in asset management could certainly be exacerbated by a Brexit brain drain, but it is not a new problem. Automation may take up some of the slack, but PwC’s research suggests asset management bosses don’t want to replace talent with technology, they want both.
Just 16% of CEOs surveyed said they plan to cut their company’s headcount over the next 12 months, and only a quarter of them said this is because of technology. Conversely, 52% plan to hire more employees, if only they can find them.
In an ideal world, the broader talent pool could easily be recruited from the new generation of workers coming out of colleges and universities or further afield from outside of the UK. As per PwC’s report, financial services and Asset Management might get involved in government-sponsored apprentice schemes, which are traditionally oriented towards manual or vocational trades. Companies could also widen the search and attract graduates at university ‘milk rounds’, lining up alongside Accenture and Goldman Sachs to woo the brightest young minds.
There is one sticking point. The government’s new apprenticeship levy is not going to bring employer investment in skills up to levels seen before the financial crisis, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) as reported in CityAM. There is still a gap to fill and experienced professionals rather than career starters, are what’s needed.
Turn this situation on its head and there is a massive opportunity for people to fill this skills gap and make not just a sideways move, but an upward one into the Asset Management space. It’s highly plausible that professionals from the shrinking world of banking might be able to develop the new skills necessary to move into Asset Management and bring with them new insight and experience, but only if the industry is open to this.
One way to embrace this opportunity is AlgoMe which provides tools for people to tailor job searches to match specific needs and skill sets to potential employers using algorithms and smart technology. Additionally, it provides the access to mentoring and learning support on the platform too, creating a unique and new way for people to manage their careers now and in the future. This means it will be easier to develop new skills and open up new career opportunities.
And so to Brexit.
Post-Brexit the future may not be all doom and gloom for the Asset Management community in London according to a recent report from Investment Week, but reaching any form of understanding or agreement will take time.
Firms may need to focus more on nurturing home grown talent if Brexit stems the flow of skilled people from the EU. Depending on the post-Brexit model with which we end up, there may well be a talent drain as Asset Managers find it harder to recruit or move skilled people between the UK and the EU. There may be expensive administrative headaches and additional costs for many international businesses whose employees travel frequently for work. The other push factor for EU nationals working in London is they may get the feeling that they’re no longer wanted. Any loss of that perception of diversity in the UK may make people want to move, even though the main financial centres of London and Edinburgh voted ‘remain’.
While Brexit and its associated uncertainties maybe top of mind for the business community, especially in the City, one thing is guaranteed – it’s going to take time to work through the structural changes and their implications. For the skills gap however, time is not standing still. One thing is clear, big opportunities lie ahead for the individuals who are fleet of foot and constantly evolving their skills and experience to meet market demands.