How BFSI training institutes are driving India’s next growth phase in financial services

Indian BFSI sector is expected to employ 27 lakh people by 2022

Cognizant plans to hire more than 23,000 STEM graduates and post-graduates from technical institutions in India | Reuters To acquire, retain and nurture a sea of demography while enabling them with digital intervention would be a giant talent management challenge for the sector | Reuters

News of growing income or wealth inequality may not resonate with many readers of this column. We turn a blind eye often. But when a top leader from a 'big four' accounting firm in the recently concluded World Economic Forum at Davos warned us on the lack of digital inclusion that is leading businesses towards a burning human resource crisis, we could instantly relate, smell the smoke and feel the heat.

As impact of disruption is knocking traditional BFSI jobs out of the floor, huge opportunities are also set to revolutionise in terms of how banks and financial institutions (FIs) would re-engage with society and consumers. But it’s not going to be easy. As per a Manipal-MXV research projection, Indian BFSI sector is expected to employ 27 lakh people by 2022. To acquire, retain and nurture a sea of demography while enabling them with digital intervention would be a giant talent management challenge for the sector.

To tide the turn, infuse fresh talent, upskill mid-career candidates, mould leadership towards transformation and emerging tech, education partners should have a vision and ability to drive transformation. Keeping social and industry dynamics in mind, they can offer customised, agile, forward-thinking learning experiences. While some fundamental training mandates are timeless, the demands from training partners are expanding:

Creating talent pipeline and equal opportunity: To echo Davos 2020 manifesto of creating sustained value for every stakeholder, including local communities and societies, we need to cast a wider net around the nook and corner of the country to assess and acquire the right trainable talent for the right role. Today, academies of BFSI turn to apps, big data tools, other digital and traditional channels to discover and rope in the best match keeping talent pipeline building programmes for partner banks and insurance companies in mind. It not only provides equal opportunity to the most deserving talent excluded from the otherwise digital ecosystem but also helps reduce disparity by creating opportunities for graduates otherwise pigeonholed in their branch of education.

Making market-aligned skills accessible to the masses: A sufficiently educated, trainable and digitally-enabled society ideally should produce steady talent flow. But despite successive governments’ skill development programmes, corporates’ CSR initiatives and collective outcomes of colleges and universities, India is still facing a chronic skill shortage across sectors, predominantly in BFSI. Why was it that the 'India shining' story, which looked so charming, could not get the cusp of the next wave of financial services disruption? While consumption in B15 cities and rural is up year-on-year due to the government’s financial inclusion policies, the brain-drain of the young and educated results in smaller potential workforce. The dire need is for professionals who can drive customer acquisition through customer search, provide product information and handhold the customer through the awareness to conversion cycle.

But the scarce supply of talent coupled with low availability of appropriate skills are proving to be serious constraints for banks, insurance, NBFC and capital market companies. Recruiters routinely complain of graduates gaining theoretical knowledge at the cost of practical job-related skills. The industry needs to expand its talent catchment area and be more inclusive.

Winning in an experience-led market: A seamless customer experience is like oxygen, without it, product innovation and R&D cannot go further. Banks’ commitment to intelligent and improved customer experience acts as a legitimate brand differentiator. Honestly, today, it is overwhelming to deal with such diverse and complex portfolio of products across the customer lifecycle. The key lies in art of presenting product portfolio to the customer. Sound product knowledge coupled with relationship management skills would be considered hallmarks of successful sales professionals. Sales force should be trained enough to enable a multitude of relevant information on the fly. They are no longer expected to be the only product information custodians, but should act as financial consultants.

Increasingly, we have mandates to prepare candidates with cross-functional skills across roles. Sales personnel would be required to have operations related skills and vice-versa. Digitisation allows customers to expect frictionless experience across physical and digital touchpoints. A customer-facing representative not only would optimise each stage of the funnel but also plays the part—of integration, of one brand. The attitude, values and behaviour she exemplifies are intrinsic to unify the moments.

Today, job titles do not matter. Every role needs to have sales mindedness, even when it is not directly connected to sales like HR, finance and operations. A sales culture is a belief that binds a high performing company, from the CXOs to trainees in putting the customer at the heart of business, in believing that customer is always first and we are here to foster a positive customer experience at every opportunity.

Tomorrow’s functions in today’s curriculum: In an era of innovation and disruption, traditional educational institutes are caught up with outdated syllabus due to red tapes and bureaucratic inertia. It is surprising that even today, the regime of cramming and testing continues to compromise students’ collective competence towards nation-building. Traditional institutes are mandated to meet compliance heavy government regulations and are slow to change to corporate India's needs. To fill the void, institutes of reputes, by leveraging their BFSI expertise, are bringing industry responsiveness to the academic rigour of a university. This is possible by co-creating curriculum, building deep partnerships with corporate India and changing rapidly to industry needs. Our faculty, drawn selectively from industry and academia, not only impart a specific skill but also use their insight, experience, character and creativity to trigger a future leader’s instinct to learn and relate to real life relevance.

Riding on analytics: BFSI entities of all sizes, small to large, are pinning growth hopes on analytics and big data to drive digital transformation, increase triple bottom-line value, sustainably create genuine customer value and brand differentiation. Analytics is bringing a paradigm shift in the BFSI sector. As a result, programmes are offered to enable banks to use data science and analytics to drive business growth, better risk behaviours in business, and reduce costs across the business.

Hot skills at work: Now that ‘digital’ accounts for a third of tech spend, 6.1 billion smartphones and 20 billion IoT devices float in the ecosystem, as per the Manipal MXV survey 'TransTalent, Reimagining The BFSI Workforce'. With the demand for candidates with advanced tech skills skyrocketing, national and international public and private sector organisations from the BFSI are turning to training partners for ready talent. Today, BFSI training institutes have attained extensive transformational learning programmes around cyber security, data science, blockchain and artificial intelligence for young graduates and working professionals.

Upskilling mid-career candidates: As reputed firms re-haul their operations to embrace technology and new age applications to stay ahead of the game, they are struggling to upskill existing talent pool of mid-level and senior professionals in order to stay relevant. Consider this: 68 per cent of wealth management professionals surveyed say that learning about and keeping up with new technology is their biggest challenge. Furthermore, 69 per cent are concerned about staying relevant to a younger generation of investors.

Leadership development: Leadership development is very important as leaders take decisions and drive the policies that will ensure the future growth of the organisation in an extremely volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment (VUCA). Leadership solutions help leaders take decisions and drive the policies to ensure better governance and bottom-line of the organisation when the ecosystem is extremely volatile, uncertain and complex.

The author is Chief Business Officer, Manipal Global Academy of BFSI.