L&D for Financial Services: Key Factors for Success

The financial services (FinServ) industry is used to change: regulations, markets and economies are constantly fluctuating. Responding and adjusting to the shifting financial landscape is just part of the job. In the past few years, however, changes are hitting the financial sector a little closer to home. Remote work, the emergence of financial technology (FinTech) and the advent of Generative AI (GenAI) are changing the way the financial services industry does business. The sector is also facing new post-pandemic laws and moving from legacy software systems to cloud-based ones.

To manage those changes, many financial services firms are turning to learning and development (L&D). The most recent State of Finance Training Report from ATD found that employees at financial institutions were using an average of 41.2 learning hours every year — six hours more than the annual average across all industries.

Corporate training in finance must address new technology

Technology is reshaping the financial services sector, in both positive and negative ways. New technologies mean new and better ways of doing things (generative AI can help simplify database searches) but also greater risk (increasing cyberattacks.) The right approach to L&D can help organizations manage both.

Generative AI in FinServ

In late 2022, the introduction of generative AI created new possibilities for every industry, including finance. GenAI has the ability to automate tasks that might bog down human workers. For example, GenAI might be able to use data to generate trend reports, predict balance sheets, or answer common customer questions. To create these tools, however, finance workers need to better understand GenAI. According to LinkedIn, 4 in 5 workers want to learn how they can leverage AI in their fields. The financial services sector is no different: 91% of financial services companies are either considering the use of AI or already using it.

Transitioning FinServ to the cloud

Financial services companies have been cautious about moving their data to the cloud. Many companies use legacy systems — decades-old platforms built to support the core functions of banking and financial services firms. It can be difficult to replace these systems; they’re always in use, they’re often mainframe-based, and they’re in-house. However, they can also be slow and unwieldy. With fintech companies disrupting the financial sector, traditional banks and financial services companies have to be more agile to compete, and that means moving to the cloud. L&D can help employees learn these new platforms and can help IT teams learn more about the complex task of migration.

Cybersecurity in FinServ

Thieves always go where the money is. That’s as true today as it was in the days of robbers and bank heists. Now, however, banks are often the target of cybercrime. The financial services industry is one of the most-targeted industries by cybercriminals; according to Verizon, this past year saw an increase in system intrusion and social engineering attacks. User errors also left information vulnerable to threat actors. Giving employees the tools and knowledge to spot the signs of a cyberattack (such as a phishing email) can help them avoid the sorts of mistakes that let criminals into a network.

Prioritizing compliance training in FinServ

ATD found that the recent increase in learning hours used by the financial sector is related to compliance. That’s likely because of the pandemic, which required an increase in compliance training for topics like COVID-19 related occupational safety and health training.

L&D professionals in the financial services sector will likely need to update or increase compliance training for their companies as well, as new regulations regarding data collection and rights are set to emerge in the next few years.

The value of online learning for FinServ

Like many industries, the financial sector has traditionally used instructor-led classroom training and workshops to deliver learning to employees. The pandemic changed that. Before 2020, only about a quarter of financial services companies used online delivery methods for training. Now 80% of financial services companies report using blended learning and almost all companies plan to increase online learning.

This is also a nod to newly remote financial workers. Pre-pandemic, many financial workers weren’t able to work from home. Due to financial regulations and legacy systems, many had to do business from an office. That’s no longer the case for all traders and financial workers. With newly remote workforces, the financial services sector can no longer rely on in-person methods of delivering training.

The financial services industry has often embraced technological changes. The introduction of the ATM, for example, freed up bank tellers to handle more complex transactions. Online banking changed the way the industry handles money. L&D is vital to ensuring that the finance sector adapts to the next phase of the industry’s ongoing evolution.