The financial industry is hyper competitive; at some point your technical capabilities are not enough to help you win an increasing array of the world’s top clients. In a world where the only constant is change, it’s more important than ever to prioritize learning how to use soft skills. But, what exactly are “soft skills” you might ask? Unlike teachable hard skills, such as job-specific knowledge and abilities that an employee needs to get the job done on a technical level (e.g. computer literacy, financial and analytical acumen ), soft skills (also known as “people skills”) are essential workplace qualities that can be developed, such as communication, collaboration, and adaptability.
Soft skills are increasingly the major differentiator between those who are achieving success in the financial industry and those who are getting left behind.
Breaking down the importance of soft skill development in finance
Today, finance isn’t a lucrative career path for those nefariously seeking unregulated wealth accumulation and an insider trading boy’s club à la Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street. With a priority on ruthlessness and deception, it’s unlikely that the infamous Gordon Gekko or Bud Fox would have survived the reckoning of empowered whistleblowers, Cancel Culture, or #MeToo. While these savvy businessmen did possess the hard skills needed to be successful in the “greed is good” sense, one could argue that both Gekko and Fox’s lack of effective soft skills (and of course, morality) ultimately did them in.
Furthermore, the pressures to meet the high expectations of clients and markets don’t simply end with the “bottom line” anymore. Financiers must also rise to evolving societal and behavioral expectations as well as carefully navigate interpersonal relationships, high stakes negotiations, and communicating complex information to diverse clients and colleagues. This is exactly where soft skills development comes into play.
But, do we really need to know how to use soft skills in finance?
According to Indeed’s 2021 “10 Skills Financial Analysts Need To Master,” six out of the 10 essential qualities would be classified as “soft skills.” While some of these skills―such as problem-solving or critical thinking―would be addressed in college or on the job training, others―like communication, leadership and management, organization, and interpersonal skills―are necessary to develop and practice on the job.
Like many industries, the finance world is evolving to incorporate the diverse cultural, economic, and social expectations of not only its clients, but also its employees. According to a 2021 Deloitte survey, nearly half its financial service industry respondents reported their organizations were prioritizing initiatives to scale financial inclusion in the next six to 12 months. They were also integrating trust-building efforts to reach underserved or unserved populations. But, in order to meet these goals, many employees may need support developing soft skills relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Surprisingly, Coach Hub’s 2021 Global HR Survey revealed 78% of finance and business services professionals don’t feel they receive enough training and development opportunities. This gap indicates a big opportunity for employers to prioritize the professional development needs of their employees―especially around critical soft skills.
How to develop soft skills through digital coaching
Financial and business services professionals indicated in the Global HR Survey their teams struggled in three key areas: upskilling, engagement, and retention―all of which come back to soft skill development. Luckily, digital coaching has solutions to these challenges:
McKinsey reports 87% of companies worldwide already have, or will soon have, a skills gap in their organization. Considering current skilled labor shortages, it makes sense to invest in upskilling and reskilling current teams while also implementing L&D programs as a strategy to attract new talent. (Case in point: The 2021 American Upskilling Study reported 65% of workers believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a potential new job.)
How can digital coaching incorporate upskilling?
- Developing soft skills is one of the key elements of CoachHub’s coaching philosophy. Additionally, we have solutions specifically designed to address upskilling critical soft skills such as performance and engagement, transformation and leadership, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Whether employees want to find ways to improve communication styles or to implement inclusive management practices, coaches work with coachees to meet their unique needs.
A 2021 Gallup poll indicated only 34% of U.S. employees were engaged at work, and 16% were “actively disengaged.” Similarly concerning, 40% of respondents to the CoachHub Global HR Survey reported an increase in finance employees struggling with well-being.
How can digital coaching increase employee engagement?
- Working with a digital coach offers your employees the opportunity to develop their own growth and learning journey. This means each coachee can address their particular concerns and hone the soft skills that will be most advantageous for them to develop.
- Whether employees want to learn how to engage more successfully with their remote teams or to discover new ways to connect and collaborate with diverse colleagues, coaches work with coachees to meet their own goals.
In the midst of the Great Resignation, retention is top-of-mind for leadership. In the finance sector, 33% of respondents to the Global HR Survey reported major disruptions caused by high employee turnover. But, not all hope is lost when it comes to retaining top talent.
Gallop’s 2021 American Upskilling Study indicated 48% of workers would switch to a new job if skills training opportunities were offered. To remain competitive, financial institutions are increasingly offering resources such as digital coaching to their workforce.
How can digital coaching improve retention?
- Digital coaching creates an opportunity to assess and develop career aspirations, while clearly delineating the steps and skills needed to attain those goals within your company.
- Whether employees want to hone the leadership skills they already possess or to develop new attributes needed for internal career mobility, coaches work with coachees to create and implement a plan of action.
To be competitive and agile in the financial services industry of 2022, it’s no longer enough to simply strive for more. We need to strive for better. This encompasses better communication, negotiation, inclusion, and so much more. To get there, the finance sector also needs to significantly upgrade the support and resources for their employees. By prioritizing an investment in soft skills development through digital coaching, you’ll not only see a ROI in your teams, but also in your business.
To explore the benefits and impacts of digital coaching for your industry, read our report, Investing in Talent Development in Finance and Business Services.
Learn how CoachHub can help you build a thriving and resilient finance and business services workforce.