Accenture Banking Blog

As I mentioned in my last post, the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the future workforce was among the hot topics of this year’s gathering of the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Accenture contributed to the conversation with the release of our “Reworking the Revolution” report that shows the great potential of human-machine collaboration to unlock value and boost growth.

In the financial services (FS) sector, the research revealed that 77 per cent of banking executives and 74 per cent of insurers expect to automate tasks in the next three years. When it comes to net job gain, a majority of executives (67 per cent in banking and 68 per cent in insurance) are optimistic. Yet only 27 per cent have redesigned jobs, so 73 per cent will need to reconfigure existing jobs.

As I showed in my previous post, the good news is that workers are impatient to collaborate with AI and to learn the necessary skills for doing so. And they have a vision for how AI can improve the lives of customers. The bad news is that business leaders don’t recognize workers’ enthusiasm and aren’t funnelling the necessary resources into ‘New Skilling.’

We believe there are three areas of focus required for FS leaders to prepare the workforce:

  1. Reimagine work by moving from workforce planning to work planning. The first step FS leaders need to take is identifying the new kinds of tasks that the future workforce will need to perform. Banks and insurers should then reallocate tasks between employees, contingent workers and machines (i.e. let robots do the repetitive work and let humans be human). Create new roles in your FS firm, especially multi-skilled roles. Applying AI in innovative ways will require breaking with tradition and going beyond functional jobs to specialised, insight-driven roles. FS leaders will also have to map new skills to new roles. Anticipating the right number of people in the right roles and with the right skills – both in new roles (e.g. experience architect) and new versions of current roles (e.g. underwriter, branch manager) will be key. Increase the use of adaptive workforces, leveraging flexibility amongst employees and the contingent workforce. Our WorkforceStudio tools on the Accenture Insights Platform generate insights for FS firms that can help with strategic moves to build skills for the future, but also lower the costs of hiring, retention and turnover.
  2. Pivot the workforce and position for the full value of AI. For FS leaders, this means simultaneously scaling up AI inside the existing business model, while using AI to challenge traditional models and find new value streams. It will be crucial to align the workforce to these new business models and to organise your FS firm for agility, with increased autonomy and decision-making power. Being a great digital bank or insurer is underpinned by a more human culture and leadership, and greater enterprise agility is underpinned by a workforce and leadership who can rapidly shift skills and mindsets.
  3. Scale up ‘new skilling’ programmes to develop the skills required in the future workforce. Working with intelligent machines will also require FS firms to scale up priority skills, such as leadership, communication, complex problem-solving and judgment / decision-making. Tap into the willingness and motivation of your employees to reskill existing workforces such as branch staff or underwriters, recognising that not everyone will be at the same starting point – some will be fearful, others enthusiastic. Digitising learning experiences with virtual reality and augmented reality technologies will help employees master the new digital and IT skills needed to work with intelligent machines. What’s more, here at Accenture, we actually lowered our cost of training hours by more than 25 per cent by expanding digital learning channels.

To find out more about preparing the future workforce, or to join us at the Change Directors Forum and People Innovation Forum in London, please contact me here, or follow me on Twitter @AndyYoungACN.

To learn more, register to download “Reworking the Revolution.”