HSBC is preparing for the ongoing revolution in banking, highlighting six new types of jobs that will be necessary to forge a career in a digitally-enabled financial services industry.
As the digital revolution progresses, however, banks will be on the hunt for people with an evolved set of skills, suggests the bank, specialising in up-and-coming applications such as virtual reality, predictive algorithmics and conversational commerce
“Many of the roles and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today,” says Josh Bottomley, global head of digital, retail banking & wealth management, HSBC “One thing is certain, however – artificial intelligence will not replace human intelligence. Blending the best technology with the power of people will be the difference between good and great when it comes to customer experience.”
To illustrate the changing nature of the workforce, the bank has pulled together a report with the aid of futurist Tom Cheesewright, analysing the challenges and opportunities facing the banking industry to predict six roles of the future:
Mixed Reality Experience Designer
Consensus is growing that mixed, or augmented reality (MR/AR) will be our primary interface to the digital world in the future. Overlaying our physical world with a layer of digital data allows us to create any imaginable character or object and locate them in physical space as if they were real, and this technology will likely be used to carry out some of our banking needs in the future.
Key skills: Designing these complex three-dimensional interfaces and making them slick and intuitive will be a major new employment area for the future, requiring skills in aesthetic design, branding, user experience and 3D mechanics.
A rising proportion of decision-making is made by algorithms, fed on a variety of input data to reach rapid conclusions. However, these algorithms operate in a fast-changing environment of shifting regulations, new information, and evolving products. Constantly tuning these algorithms to optimise banking customer experience, and avoid ‘computer says no’ moments, will be a skill in growing demand.
Key skills: As we shift to a low-code/no-code environment for technology operation, this role will require skills in risk management, service design, and financial literacy, rather than technological proficiency.
Conversational Interface Designer
Machines have become progressively more human in their interactions over the years. Chatbots are already used in banking to answer simple queries and gather information. Where instructions used to be complex strings of code, we can now speak to our machines and they will interpret our needs. Conversational interface design is an emerging skill to help us take best advantage of voice and text chatbots, and one that will only grow in importance as the technology becomes more mainstream.
Key skills: Building natural, low-friction interfaces that go beyond solving immediate challenges to surprise and delight customers requires a mixture of creative, linguistic, and anthropological skills.
Universal Service Advisor
The separation between digital, physical and remote service environments is breaking down. At any moment a customer may want serving in a branch, via chat app, voice, or in augmented or virtual reality. As mixed reality becomes the main interface between people and machines, highly skilled service agents, empowered to support customers across a variety of products, will be able to switch seamlessly between virtual and physical environments from anywhere anytime to meet customer needs.
Key skills: Critical skills for tomorrow’s customer advisor are a combination of product and domain knowledge with excellent customer communication and empathy. This will require a level of comfort with the key communications technologies, including performing in a virtual environment.
Digital Process Engineer
Many banking customer interactions – from onboarding to replacing a lost card – follow standardised flows that balance security and regulatory requirements with the desire for a slick customer experience. The rate of change of these processes is likely to increase, as is their complexity, as they combine service and information components from multiple sources. A digital process engineer analyses, assembles and optimises these workflows, adjusting them constantly to maximise throughput and minimise friction.
Key skills: The digital process engineer will need great discovery skills, to understand large and interconnected workflows and diagnose problems and bottlenecks, and creative skills to help them to prototype and test solutions.
Partnership Gateway Enabler
In an increasingly networked business world, the digital relationships with banking partners, like fintechs and global technology companies, will need careful monitoring, maintenance, and negotiation. With both cash and customer data potentially flowing between organisations, someone will need to keep a watchful eye on utilisation and conduct, as well as ensuring performance and regulatory compliance.
Key skills: Gateway Controllers will balance technical knowledge of the digital interfaces with an understanding of security and risk management. Communications skills for partner engagement will also be highly valued.
Each of the six roles will demand a core set of transferable skils, dubbed the three C’s: Curiosity, Creativity and Communication.
Says Cheesewright: “The role of humans and robots in tomorrow’s workforce has been hotly debated the world over, but the positive impacts of automation have largely been overlooked. Whilst machines will continue to take on the more robotic processes, increased emphasis will be placed on our ‘most human’ resources; qualities like curiosity, creativity and empathy will continue to set us apart from machines.”
According to the report, lifelong learning and the need to upskill employees will become essential as the shortage of skilled candidates in digital and technology disciplines continues.
“Employers have a huge role to play in helping people to continue their personal development, including working with existing staff to upskill them,” says Josh Bottomley. “We are embedding a culture that encourages our people to view everything through a digital lens, changing our mind-set from inside out so that we can deliver a better experience for our customers.”
At HSBC, frontline employees in seven core markets have attend a weekly digital upskilling programme called ‘Digital Thursdays’, says Bottomley. The bank also has a Digital Leadership Programme, he adds, which helps senior managers have a greater understanding of digital trends and how these relate to customer needs.