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Lisa Winnard: What’s on the agenda for leadership in financial services?

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In financial services we experience change at a phenomenal pace so for those wanting a career in the sector, be warned  – it is not for the faint-hearted.

With the RDR, the move from the FSA to the FCA and the Mortgage Market Review, to name just a few changes, our profession is constantly evolving.

We should be proud that we are a resilient industry which can respond to an ever-changing landscape. We have seen many 19th Century industrial giants disappear through fixed thinking and not accepting the simple truth that change is constant. 

So while we continue to work through the mainstream changes driven by our industry, what we need to continue to pay attention to is the changing world of work and the people within it, not only for the two million already working in the industry but for the next generation.

Women in business

We are still making slow progress in attracting women into what is a male-dominated workforce. Other industries are ahead of the curve on this agenda item. While the Davies Report triggered some improvements in women being promoted to boards, other recent reports show that this initial progress has slowed. Focus should not only be on promoting women onto boards but on how to increase the number of women joining the industry to provide a stronger pool of candidates with the right skills. 

Managing people through change

There is nothing more certain than change. Change management will continue to be a core skill set for leaders in engaging teams to adapt and meet new challenges ahead. Younger generations are becoming accustomed to change and for those looking for a career who enjoy change, financial services is worth serious consideration.

Virtual leadership

We have seen a huge shift away from the nine to five culture we once knew. Advances in technology allow us to work remotely and therefore our leaders need to be equipped to manage a different type of workforce. Virtual leaders need to create effective communication channels, to engage, develop, manage and deliver through successful teams in a virtual space. 

Succession planning

Succession planning in the financial advice sector is likely to remain a key issue in attracting and creating a healthy pipeline of new advisers as we see the population of financial advisers reduce.  With a growing advice gap in Britain, there are huge opportunities for bright, talented new advisers to provide consumers with professional financial advice.

Managing a modern workforce

With more people working longer, leaders will need to find ways to manage the conflicting needs of different age groups. Leaders will need to combine finding ways to engage with young workers to drive forward into the future while getting the most from the skills of older workers. All workers are invaluable to the business; it is just a case of getting them to work in harmony to deliver results.

At the Financial Adviser School, we are very aware of achieving a healthy mix of all the above considerations in helping to nurture the next generation of financial advisers. We have a good track record in attracting women to train as financial advisers. With our students ranging in age from 18 to 55, we see the benefit of how this range of experience enhances the learning journey. Our learning programme is built around virtual technology and, finally, we understand the importance of building a succession pipeline for the advisers of the future.

Lisa Winnard is HR Director at Sesame Bankhall Group

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