Why tech skills will be mandatory for the financial services sector in a post-coronavirus world
The world has been undergoing unprecedented changes for the past two months. Who would have ever predicted that the global economy could ever be in a state of complete lockdown?
Since then, organisations and the workforce have changed drastically. There has been a paradigm shift from physical work culture to working from home.
Social distancing has been adopted as the first step towards fighting the COVID-19 outbreak. And it is likely to stay for a while. But this makes business activities tough. The answer for everyone, including the financial services industry, lies in digitalisation of business activities.
Financial services have typically been high touch – people like to deal with people when it comes to money matters. So social distancing inherently seems to be a barrier to the financial services sector, but this will be the new normal soon.
In the coming future, customers may not prefer physical and in-person interactions anymore. This will result in physical paperwork being replaced with digital products and processes. Fortunately, since we are dealing with money, essentially a digital good, this switch needn’t be difficult with the right technology.
New tech capabilities required
As times have drastically changed and led to a change in working patterns, employees and organisations need to learn new tech skills to carry out regular activities with ease.
Some of these skills include:
Adopting remote conferencing technology
In-person meetings have been replaced with digital meetings since the entire staff of organisations is working from home. In such a case, what came in as the need of the hour was to learn and adopt remote working technology. Zoom, Google Hangouts, video calls over WhatsApp, or Skype meetings are being conducted to keep the workflow smooth and productive at the same time.
Employees need to be comfortable with these technologies to work with the team as per client requirements. Companies are also introducing cloud-based call centre software that will make it easier for employees to work by enabling them to take calls when working from home. This ensures that communication between team members and customers remains unhampered.
Ensuring data security
The data shared by customers with financial service companies like banks and NBFCs is highly confidential. Hence, data security plays an essential role in the financial services sector. These organizations must be aware of scams and data breaches to protect confidential information of their customers.
To ensure high-end data security, financial service organisations need to adopt best practices available in the industry to maintain the security of financial transactions. For instance, using strong VPN connections to connect portable devices with work networks is something that is not only popular but is also being widely used by organisations. Using VPNs secures browsing and remote network access, leaving no room for hackers or spammers to misuse data.
Integrating data engineering and machine learning
Learning to integrate data engineering and machine learning in the financial industry has become quite an important skill. Machine learning can be used as an advanced tool to detect and prevent frauds, for algorithm trading, chatbots, virtual assistance, and for handling large data sets.
On the other hand, data engineering can be used to design workflows based on customers/sales inputs and automate simple tasks. It is vital for employees to pick up and master data engineering and machine learning skills for increased productivity and customer satisfaction.
Since employees are working from their homes during the lockdown, the HR of financial service firms need to pick up on new tools to keep them engaged. For instance, Zoom and Hangout meetings are being used to make sessions engaging and interactive.
HR must also encourage friendly and social interaction such as virtual coffee chats or fun sessions with team members during or after meetings to increase their willingness to participate.
Open source software
Every company should be looking to conserve cash right now. Companies should look at open source software technologies to manage technology costs without compromising on performance. Not only are they free, they offer great learning opportunity for employees. This can be introduced as on-the-job training for employees to pick up skills that are closely related to their job profile, and will help them in the future as well.
Since social distancing is the new norm, banks and financial institutions will have to take up digital payment methods to ensure that there is zero contact between customers and employees. Instead of collecting physical cash, digital money movements and transactions through already existing UPI, credit and debit cards, and e-wallets should be pushed.
Paper invoices should be replaced with digital invoices and payments to ensure the safety of both, the employees and customers.
Online marketing technology
Apart from usual business activities, the mode of marketing products and services is also changing. Instead of holding events and shows, financial organisations will now have to undertake digital marketing as a model for building their brand. Webinars, interactive virtual events, social media platforms for marketing, and online brand building will emerge as an essential medium to market products.
Digital marketing has been growing at a fast pace in India for the past few years. It has emerged as the right and most cost-effective solution, and is being widely used by companies big and small.
In a world beleaguered by coronavirus, new trends of connecting and working are the norm. Many, such as digital marketing, use of digitals payments, ensuring security of users’ data, and integration of machine learning, have been there for a while.
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of these technologies at a faster pace, and organisations and employees are working hard to prepare themselves and seamlessly integrate with these changes. These new skills are not only a solution in the current times; they may become a way of working in the future.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)