Ask the experts: Filling the gap

Claire Tunley, chief executive of the UK Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC), discusses key points from the Future skills framework, which aims to support the sector in meeting changing demands as digitalisation and technological change advance

We understand that the framework was created in response to a fall in proficiency in necessary skills in the financial services sector compared to the rest of the economy. Why do you think this is?

Data from the Employer skills survey 2019 conducted by the UK Department for Education shows that the UK financial services sector invests a relatively low amount into workforce training and development compared with others, which means we are now seeing increasing skills gaps that are exacerbated by fierce competition for talent.

In collaboration with the FSSC member firms, we have identified areas within financial services where there are acute skills shortages or where there is rapid and growing demand. The eight priority future skills listed are divided into technical and behavioural categories. They are:



User experience

Machine learning





Relationship management


We also updated the framework earlier this year in our Mind the gaps – skills for the future of financial services 2022 report and will be publishing our ‘Skills gap toolkit’ soon. This is necessary because skills are continually evolving so we need to stay on the pulse of the time. The toolkit was updated following intensive dialogue with our membership on what is required to future-proof their businesses, with skills that are seen as critical, with demand growing fast or becoming near universal.

How can the framework assist organisations to fill skills gaps and keep up with technological innovation?

It provides an architecture for firms to invest in the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviours that are needed for businesses to attract and retain talent and therefore continue to serve their customers as effectively as possible. By providing a common definition of these priority skills and associated proficiency levels, firms can align on a common approach, growing the pool of talent for everyone. With common proficiency levels for each skill, firms can identify where upskilling or reskilling is required and to what level, providing a clear development pathway for colleagues.

About the expert

Claire Tunley is chief executive of the FSSC
What more can be done to ensure people have the necessary skills?

We work with our 35 member firms, who employ over 300,000 workers collectively, to increase and diversify the skills available in the sector. Reskilling is part of the continuous learning and career development journey and all our members run effective in-house training and skills academies. The FSSC is helping to ensure these programmes are as focused, targeted, and effective as possible.

We are also working with partners in higher education to help ensure the priority skills are reflected in education and training provision. For example, empathy is a behaviour which involves several skills, including active listening, as well as being able to demonstrate emotional intelligence, and to understand and engage with others more effectively. Training can provide the awareness and tools to help individuals model empathetic behaviours and practise these in the workplace.

“Empathy, for example, is just as central to delivering great outcomes”

We are in regular dialogue with regulators and other sector bodies to promote the importance of tackling the skills gaps and helping firms attract and retain talent. If we do not address these shortages across both technical and behavioural skills, we will see a deficit across both for the foreseeable future.

Can you elaborate on the technical and behavioural skills you feel are most important?

The eight skills and behaviours are equally important. An individual may have great cyber skills but demonstrating empathy, for example, is just as central to delivering great outcomes. Each role is different, and it will require a mix of skills and proficiency levels. The framework has this adaptability built in so that it can be applied across the entire organisation.

How has the pandemic impacted the skills that are needed for employees in financial services?

Our research reveals that 30% of workers in the sector identify the need for more digital/tech expertise because of the pandemic, and some 21% of workers say they need different leadership and management skills.

What do organisations need to focus on to be successful in the future, say over the next few decades?

We published research with PwC in February 2022 called Reskilling: a business case for financial services organisations, which shows reskilling can create cost savings of up to £49,100 per employee compared to recruiting or making a role redundant.

The future of jobs report 2020 by the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, 85 million existing roles globally could be displaced due to factors such as technology and automation. However, our report shows there is a clear business case in favour of reskilling and strategic workforce planning. FSSC members including Zurich UK, NatWest, Barclays, and Lloyds are all undertaking reskilling initiatives.

This article was originally published in the September 2022 edition of The Review

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Once you have read the print edition, keep coming back to the digital edition of The Review, which is updated regularly with news, features and comment about the Institute and the financial services sector. 
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Published: 03 Nov 2022
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • Soft Skills
  • cybersecurity
  • agile
  • machine learning
  • user experience
  • empathy
  • skills gap
  • upskill
  • Financial Services Skills Commission
  • reskill

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