Business Technology

Despite FinTech, Financial Services Still Need Some Humans: How to Safeguard Your Job

In 2008, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney entered the political rings to compete for the US presidency. One candidate had a competitive edge. His Silicon Valley supporter, Steve Spinner, created a novel fundraising approach: mine social media for contacts most likely to give, then ask them to fundraise among like-minded contacts.

By pinpointing one high-potential social contact and turning it into a giving ripple effect, in 2008, Steve’s approach became Mr. Obama’s 8th most lucrative fundraiser and, in 2012, after some refining, his 3rd most profitable.

Realizing the fruits of his labor, Steve then created an algorithm, RevUp software, to further scale his fundraising approach. After bottlenecks hindered full RevUp-service scalability, he assembled a team to search for publicly-available data, then paste it into spreadsheets. To Steve’s disappointment, in one week of high-quality manual labor, the firm collected data for just 20 organizations.

Today, the company collects data for 500 organizations per week and serves non-profit organizations, educational institutions and, yes, political campaigns on both sides of the aisle. The difference is not an expanded data-collection team. Quite the opposite, in fact: RevUp replaced their data-collection team with WorkFusion’s Intelligent-Automation software.

Technology Can do Some Financial-Services Jobs Better than Humans.
For Steve and his clients, WorkFusion’s solution was a resounding success. Meanwhile, RevUp’s once-valuable data-collection team watched as technology rendered their roles redundant. Likewise, across the financial-services industry, many white-collar professionals are watching their jobs dissolve or are creating ‘what-if’ plans for if they do.

And, no one subsector is exempt. From fundraising, insurance, and commercial-banking firms to accounting, investment, and financial-advising firms, entire business models are shifting in the name of scalability for better customer experiences.

Like RevUp, banks lean on Intelligent Automation to ‘scale’ their workforce (often business speak for replacing jobs!). For trade-finance-transaction intermediaries, manual paperwork-extraction and reviews mean tedious work subject to human error. Invoice processing, bills-of-lading travel between shippers and banking teams, sanctions-checks handling, buyer and seller apportioning, and other manual-compliance tasks slow the process. A slow and erroneous process means subpar customer experiences.

To remain competitive, Intelligent Automation helps banks reduce trade-financing manual task processing by 60% and needed manpower by 40%. The result: customer satisfaction increases as experiences become instant, seamless, and more affordable. It’s a win-win for financial-services providers and their customers. In this win-win wake, though, many white-collar jobs are replaced or scaled back.

While artificial-intelligent-powered automation is the biggest financial-services disruptor, other technologies are also poised to impact white-collar financial-services jobs. Once vetted, blockchain will mean less need for white-collar assistance with fraud detection, financial-contract completion, trade funding, and Know-Your-Customer (KYC) compliance. Online crowdfunding platforms mean fewer needed intermediaries between borrowers and lenders. Cryptocurrencies moot many intermediary tasks as peer-to-peer transactions become readily available. And, The Internet of Things (IOT) will allow insurers to monitor clients’ behavior and health information automatically, resulting in fewer manual review and paperwork-handling tasks.

Bottom line: white-collar financial-services professionals must put their what-if plans in place now.

 

The Human Touch is Not Dead.
The good news is, only a percentage of white-collar financial-services jobs will suffer. Trade-funding-intermediary brands, for example, can scale manpower by 40% using Intelligent Automation. This leaves 60% of jobs intact. Translation: financial-services providers still need humans.

So, who should worry? Gallup reports that, while older generations have less reason to worry, Millennial jobs are most at risk. Older generations have one competitive advantage: accumulated field time spent building the “soft skills” machines are unlikely to fully master.

As one of Wall Street’s highest ranking African American women and a 30-year veteran of the financial-services industry, Carla Harris attributes her decades-long success to what she calls “relationship currency.”

“If I have gone for five days just executing, then that is my red flag. I will ask myself, who have I connected with? If I haven’t connected, then I will stop doing what I am doing and make it my business to do it,” says Harris.

Now vice chairman, managing director and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley, she says she didn’t always know the critical role of relationship-building to career success but, over time, has learned that task performance and soft skills go hand-in-hand to sustain a financial-services career, no matter how the industry is disrupted.

Millennials Can Catch up with Industry Veterans.
Gallup reports that one in three Millennials consider their jobs at risk due to rapidly evolving technological advances. And, though they may not have time to accumulate Harris-like field experience via decades-long careers, they can accelerate the process.

They can begin by developing a list of their veteran financial-services contacts. Then, they’d do well to take Harris’s advice: connect with them. By asking which soft skills most contributed to sustained career success and what experiences taught veterans to practice them well, Millennials learn a path to follow. They may even be surprised to learn that, like Harris, many financial-services veterans are eager to become mentors and, thereby, help their less experienced counterparts advance to become the next leaders of the financial-services industry.

Machines and Soft Skills Partner for Competitive Customer Experiences.
Forty percent of today’s leading companies will cease to exist in the next 10 years if they don’t remain competitive on the new universal key-performance indicator: customer experience. To succeed, brands must deliver experiences via the perfect mix of technological and human capabilities, each doing what they do best to deliver seamless, real-time personalization no matter how or at which customer-journey stage customers engage.

For white-collar financial-services professionals, this means developing unique human capabilities: the soft skills financial-services customers have come to expect, thanks to the great work of industry veterans like Harris. Millennials who learn from industry veterans will be well on their way to becoming an integral part of their company’s competitive customer-experience offerings.

This post was originally featured in Business2Community.com‘s Finance section on February 22, 2018. 

Alana Rudder

Alana Rudder — Founding Member of Experience Perspective, LLC —offers content strategy, marketing project management, and content writing services to Fortune 500 brands, including Adobe, as well as countless mid-size and startup brands. She writes about business technology, martech, marketing, leadership, organizational development, and the causes that are so dear to her: organ donation, living donation, and organizations that lend to the welfare of children in crisis around the globe. When she isn't working, she loves to spend time with her rescue pets and participating in living history events with her dear husband.

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