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Navigating digital changes

One cannot afford to be caught off-guard in the banking, financial services and insurance sector as it has been witnessing changes for over a decade.

Rachit Chawla | New Delhi |

The banking, financial services and insurance, or BFSI, sector is growing at a blistering pace across the world. The rapid boom of digital technologies in the last decade has led to innovations that have, in turn, created a myriad of opportunities in the sector. By next year, the industry is expected to employ 1.6 million people.

Let’s delve deeper into the profiles that constitute the BFSI sector, understand how digitisation has transformed it, and identify the skills that can help one shine and grow in this framework.

Profiles

Under the umbrella role of corporate banking are all the services and solutions that banks offer to organisations. It encompasses specialised roles such as accounting, cash management and treasury management to name a few.
On the other hand, retail banking, commonly referred to as consumer banking, deals with all the services offered to individual customers. Opportunities include strategy and planning, wealth management and digital marketing among others.

Investment banking is another specialised role aiming to create and multiply the capital of individuals and corporations. Mergers and acquisitions are an important part of investment banking, and profiles in sales as well as joint ventures are common. Positions in other financial services include what is left of banking, such as business development, financial analyst, etc.
These roles offer a bird’s eye view of the sector and their functional aspects run much deeper. All career opportunities fall within any of these four profiles.

Evolution

The sector has witnessed a lot of evolution with the onset of the technology boom. We have come a long way from employing physical cashiers at banks for withdrawals to deploying automated teller machines to mechanise the entire process. The three major change drivers in the BFSI segment are mobile apps, e-payments and automation through Artificial Intelligence.
Every bank across the globe is running a race to develop the best app to ensure a smooth and seamless experience for consumers. Right from the creation of a bank account to transferring funds to investing money, mobile apps have got it all covered. If one wants to invest in mutual funds or equity, the individual can proceed from registration and verification to investing, with a few clicks. Judging by the current pace of transformation, consumers may even stop visiting banks in future.

We’re now past those days when retail outlets presented only two options — cash or card. The payments ecosystem has made huge strides through its evolution and multiple payment wallets have brought all such services to our fingertips. But that’s not all. Several e-commerce websites have introduced their own currencies through which they offer discounts over online transactions.

Although it hasn’t become highly sophisticated yet, AI has already begun serving multiple purposes in the banking space. Automated responses, helpline numbers and chatbots are common examples of the capabilities of AI-powered systems. It can also be deployed to carry out a complex analysis, which significantly changes how we do business.

Essential skills

In banking and finance, analysis plays a key role, especially when dealing with foreign exchange and risk management. In most banking roles, one must be able to look at raw data and draw inferences as well as reasonable logic to back them. The conclusions derived from actual trends help key decision-makers in firming up the future strategy of the organisation.

Banking professionals must have an in-depth understanding of market movements and drivers. In commercial as well as investment banking, finance personnel must be able to speculate future movements and determine market sentiments. In order to build such a profound level of expertise, one must be apprised of all the latest developments in the industry and build a perspective.

Emerging technologies are rapidly becoming a part of workflows in the banking ecosystem. The workforce must understand the use of relevant technologies and how they are to be leveraged in streamlining operations. In a sector that has been witnessing changes for over a decade, one cannot afford to be caught off-guard.

A banker interacts a lot with people who do not match his/her level of financial understanding. All the vital information must therefore be conveyed precisely, concisely and coherently without any jargon. In the case of corporate clients, bankers may even be required to present their views and findings in the form of a presentation, which is likely to test their communication skills.

The BFSI sector is gradually transforming digitally which makes navigating through this ever-changing and ever-evolving sector a tricky task. Business schools have begun recognising these needs and have started incorporating courses specific to the sector to prepare interested students for a banking career. Those who have already spent some years in the banking industry will benefit from upskilling themselves through digitally available courses that offer a chance to gain more knowledge and eventually, take up more responsibility at their workplaces. Careers in this sector are made through persistence, flexibility and continuous learning.