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The binding effect of events

2018 is a big year for financial services and events are key to communicating all that is new, argues Sadie Carrington

It is turning out to be a year full of change and development in the world of financial services. AI, Brexit, cybersecurity, GDPR, Fintech and Blockchain are all terms we’re hearing a lot about and likely to hear plenty more of throughout the rest of 2018. With these things likely to cause big shifts in the industry agenda it’s essential that companies communicate with the people on the receiving end of these changes, their employees. 

While businesses don’t know exactly how these changes and developments will impact them they should know how to best keep their employees engaged and not fearful of changes on the horizon. They should know that communication is key. 

In these fast-paced and ever-changing times it’s essential to deliver transparency and trust. In communicating with workforces rather than scaremongering, management will find that this time of uncertainty is also one which presents opportunity. 

Events which offer face-to-face interaction provide an ideal environment to inform, explain and reassure people about topics like Brexit, cybersecurity, GDPR, Fintech and Blockchain.

Digital demands

Retail banks are coming under increased pressure from the challenger banks and disruptor Fintech firms who are encroaching upon established markets by offering better digital services and customer experience. More and more people, particularly millennials, are using online tools as their preferred banking channel. 

Research by PwC has shown that 46% of customers skipped bank branches altogether, choosing to do their banking online. Due to the digital shifts such as these, financial services companies are recognising a need to invest in digital to hold their positions as industry leaders. 

There is a clear need to invest in digital technologies, but investment alone won’t pay off. It’s easy for teams to become divided during times of change – when implementing transformation it’s vital that teams are held together. Events are a great way to keep the technologists, strategists, creatives and conservatives all on the same page.

Business transformation and blockers

As well as changes to business offerings many companies are implementing large-scale change to streamline processes and keep in line with the regulatory agenda, change such as GDPR (new data protection regulations) and MiFID II (investment protection legislation). 

However, investing millions in new human resource management technology such as Workday, handing out guidebooks and emailing round demos won’t be enough to encourage Blockers to adopt change and spur ROI. 

Employees need to be engaged and given incentives to work with new technology and follow new processes. Research has proven that people retain far more information when it is delivered through methods which encourage interaction and multiple sense engagement. 

Traditional learning, reading from a book or watching a video, for example, has a 5% retention rate, in comparison to experiential which boasts a 90% retention rate, according to Olaf Hartmann at the Multisense Institut. This level of learning and retention can be achieved through a series of breakout sessions, demos or immersive sessions where individuals are encouraged to learn through interacting with information and one another.

The robots are coming

The pressure for businesses to innovate has never been greater and companies are increasingly looking to artificial intelligence and automation to do more of the ‘heavy lifting’, making processes more efficient by freeing up their warm-blooded employees to do the value-added work. 

Despite the obvious benefits of AI, automation and individuals working with these technologies, a surprising 37% of employees say they are worried about automation putting their jobs at risk, according to PwC’s Workforce of the Future research. Employees feel threatened by digital labour, bots and virtual assistants. 

During implementation of change, it’s essential that workforces are kept informed and in the loop about changes and developments to their own position. 

It’s often difficult to imagine bots and virtual assistants in situ. Giving people the opportunity to see these technologies at work and to understand how they will assist is useful in settling the worries of human minds. Employees must be given the time and resources to understand how and why these technologies will be implemented, along with the benefit they will bring. Sharing plans for developments in digital labour will make the process far more transparent and ease the transition.

We’re surrounded by visionary leaders with visionary ideas and everyone wants a slice of the next big thing. The millennial workforce wants purpose over pay cheque, to be part of a company that wants to be part of something bigger. 

Employers need to work to get employees behind technological change and inspire and encourage their interest.

A stormy forecast

In addition to a wave of regulatory pressure and advancements in technology, the year is set to be a turbulent and dynamic one in terms of political change. As more details of the UK’s departure from the EU become clear we will see financial services firms adapting accordingly. During times of turbulence, employees need security and the reassuring voice of their managers and peers to maintain high productivity. A united workforce is far more ready for disruption than a disunited one.

Consistency and communication

Companies are nothing without their people, and those who communicate effectively with their workforce during times of uncertainty and change will thrive under the hot forge of pressure and the development it brings. The financial sector - which makes up 7% of the nation’s employment, according to a TheCityUK report Key Facts about UK Financial and Related Professional Services – must work to build and maintain trust both internally and with customers. It must do this while fully preparing the workforce for the future, whether this be successfully integrating AI, increasing digitalisation, preparing for regulation or adapting to political/economic change, or all of these things at once.

The power of face-to-face

How can financial services firms ensure that through all this they are maintaining their integrity and supporting their workforce? 

The answer is immersive experiences. Events, hold the ability to capture attention, command response and encourage engagement with new concepts, news and software. Events, conferences and training days allow companies to connect directly with their workforce, deliver information with immediacy, boost company culture and build rapport. Findings from an Engage for Success White Paper showed that companies with engagement scores in the top 25% had twice the annual profit. 

Events offer a space for open and collaborative learning, giving individuals the opportunity and resources to get up close and personal with both change and each other. In fusing technology, face-to-face communication and hands-on interaction, companies are attracting and fostering a workforce of people completely engaged with business development, progression and their company’s goals.