Why continuous training is vital to the banking and finance sector

Knowledge is key to successful people in all industries. But I would argue the banking and financial services landscape is among the few professions in the world, where a constant refresher of knowledge is not just integral to one’s success, but to simply stay relevant during daily operations.

From a purely macro-economic and market point of view, the banking and financial landscape has been volatile over the past decade, coupled with geopolitical shifts that have affected the global economy. In the GCC, countries have now adjusted to new norms presented by the oil prices, though it has been on the rise in recent months, reducing reliance on the sector and successfully diversifying their revenue streams. Customer expectations have also vastly heightened.

Adjusting to these realities has meant tougher times for all institutions, and a new recruitment trend in the banking and finance industry has been a focus on quality rather than quantity; in other words, hiring professionals with increased specialisation.

Demand for specialised roles and new skills

According to a recent report by the recruitment agency Robert Half, the financial industry in the UAE will witness more demand for specific roles such as wealth and private banking sales professionals, regulatory and compliance officers, anti-money laundering specialists and brokers, as well as tax specialists. Other reports also indicate that senior professionals in audit, legal and risk are also in short supply.

This is a trend that many banks in particular are facing, and with new regulations such as Basel III, IFRS9 and other reporting standards, there is a lot of pressure to obtain talented individuals who can help comply with and manage these requirements.

Technology is also rapidly transforming the industry. According to EY’s Global Banking Outlook 2018 Report – which surveyed 221 financial institutions across 29 markets – most banks mentioned that they invested in technology in order to grow. Innovations in fintech have created new markets and are having a big impact on the consumer experience, particularly in the payments space, which has been heavily disrupted by mobile wallets and other digital financing solutions.

Artificial intelligence is expected to play a bigger role in banks of the future, and some global banks have prudently invested millions in training their existing workforce in digital banking and emerging technologies via e-learning platforms.

In my mind, it is very important for the entire workforce today to upskill themselves and be able to work with new technologies in order to enhance their efficiency, as it will be part of their future make-up. Obtaining the right education and training is therefore prevalent to this new environment.

Nationalisation initiatives

In the UAE, our next generation of Emiratis in particular must be equipped with the required tools to be our future leaders. Cultivating home grown talent, creating an environment that is conducive for knowledge and thus enhances the growth of national productivity has been high on our esteemed government’s agenda for some time. At the end of the day, the primary asset of every company is not its buildings or services, but the knowledge or education of its employees – a fact recognised by our leadership when they introduced the new nationalisation points system.

As part of the system, banks and financial institutions within the region are henceforth actively organising training courses and programmes for the next generation of Emirati bankers and to upskill them in order to meet today’s customer expectations.

At the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies, we offer a variety of education programmes and training sessions for all professionals in the areas of banking and finance. In 2017, 25 per cent of our participants, which amounts to 5,945 UAE nationals, trained and participated with us. Supporting the development of UAE nationals remains a big focus of ours and is something we are keen to continue.