The CBI’s Financial Services Survey, sponsored by PwC, is the most comprehensive survey on financial services in the UK. It is the only regular business survey which covers the whole UK financial services sector – including banking, insurance and investment management. With the survey time series spanning over 30 years, it allows us to keep track of the sector over time, documenting the evolution of financial services during a defining period for the global economy.
We have recently enhanced the survey significantly, to reflect the evolution of the FS sector in recent years. This has gleaned new insights on key emerging themes in financial services; for example, technology has emerged as a key priority over the past year, which is unsurprising given the disruption that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused. It’s clear that financial services firms have moved further along in their adoption of cloud computing over the past year: we are now seeing a great proportion of firms in the “implementation” and “transition” stages, compared to September last year when more firms were in the “awareness” and “analysis” stages.
Additionally, although Covid-19 remains a source of disruption for FS businesses, the proportion citing it as the main disrupter has fallen since last year. Businesses are re-focusing on longer-term priorities: with changes in regulation and accelerations in digital technologies now considered the biggest drivers of disruption.
After much of financial services has shifted to remote working during the pandemic, a key consideration for the sector is understandably the future of work. Eight out of ten FS businesses expect to implement hybrid ways of working, with a similar proportion having consulted their employees on their preference for hybrid working, and about two-thirds in the process of analysing the outcomes of these consultations. Firms expect these future ways of working to have a broadly positive impact on productivity, investment in collaboration technology, employee wellbeing, diversity and inclusion and social mobility.
However, there are a range of views on whether hybrid working is suitable for all tasks. On balance, firms expect collaboration and informal engagement to be best achieved in the office, with admin and BAU tasks to be best achieved working from home. Other activities such as managing employees and L&D are expected to be best delivered through a hybrid model.
Upskilling has also been an interesting topic, with firms citing a clear need for skills in technical proficiency over the next five years, consistently since we began asking the question last year. To equip themselves for future skills needs, FS firms are looking to upskill their staff and at greater agility in ways of working. Firms also expect to automate standardised or repetitive tasks over the next five years, in response to growing digitisation and new technologies.
If you’re a financial services business and want to get involved, completing the survey helps you to have your say on current economic conditions, to help feed insight directly into government and other institutions regarding the health of the financial services sector. Sign up to take part in the FSS here.