This month saw the arrival of the Financial Conduct Authority. This brings a huge opportunity for fresh starts and doing things differently.
I was able to discuss some of this new thinking recently when I interviewed a very capable, young candidate for a role at Sesame Bankhall Group. It was great to listen to his views and interpretation on the changes ahead from the new regulator.
He told me that he took particular interest in the speeches and messages coming from figures such as Martin Wheatley, CEO at the FCA.
This candidate really brought to life the impact that this new era will have on everyone working in the industry and, more importantly, how people will start to learn about the changes ahead.
The saying ‘you can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow’ is very true in our industry.
The FCA states that its challenge is to use its full range of powers under the new legislation to make financial markets work well, so that everyone can use financial services with renewed confidence.
Whilst the financial services industry has work to do in bringing consumer confidence back, it remains one of the UK’s most successful industries and is a key component to the health of the UK economy.
The new approaches and thinking from the FCA will ultimately impact and impress upon the levels and types of skills which are crucial for this shift of mindset.
With a new, forward-looking regulator, this updated approach will be key in both the short and long term to build strategies to ensure a workforce of the future is in situ to continue to deliver the vision in five years’ time and beyond.
In one of his speeches, Martin Wheatley referred to the importance of looking after the reputation of the industry and preserving it for those that follow in our footsteps. This struck a chord with me, as it is also important that the industry is to remain strong and sustain this legacy to deliver fair customer outcomes for years to come.
I believe the FCA needs to work collaboratively with others in the industry to develop a strong talent pipeline into the advisory sector.
Just as consumer confidence has been hit by bad publicity, this has also impacted on the flow of new talent and people considering a career in financial services.
Let’s not forget that this industry, driven by the specialism, knowledge and skills of its workforce, is a major contributor to the economy. There are over two million people working in financial services and it is envisaged that over the next five years, 20 per cent of that population will retire, taking their skills with them.
This industry issue is not going away and all key industry stakeholders need to work collaboratively to address the clear gap of new talent.
If we are to achieve a healthy economy, what we need is a combination of financially–aware, educated consumers, together with financial institutions operating fairly and transparently under an effective regulatory framework. This year we have seen positive action from the Government to start providing financial education in schools, which will help form the education and awareness of financial planning for the next generation.
This, together with a new regulator that has a clear focus on better customer outcomes, shows we are making progress towards a better future for consumers.
A vital component of working and thinking differently is the need to focus on workforce planning.
In order for the FCA to succeed, it needs to address how to sustain the skills, knowledge and behaviours which are crucial to serving consumers in the long term.
Lisa Winnard is HR director at Sesame Bankhall Group