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Financial services chiefs predict “tsunami” of change in jobs and careers, Odgers Berndtson reveals

Chief executives from across finance and financial services have predicted technological change will hit the sector “like a tsunami”, and advise young people coming in to adopt a challenger mindset and focus on people.

Their comments came as part of “CEO for a Day”, an initiative focusing on future leadership talent led by Odgers Berndtson. Open now to all UK undergraduates, the scheme will pair individual CEOs with a student, giving them a real taste of what it takes to run a major organisation.

Visa, Admiral Group, and The Royal Mint are among the companies taking part from the financial services sector with the finance function also represented, notably by Michael Izza, CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW).

Michael Izza, chief executive of ICAEW, said, “Technology is going to hit the profession like a tsunami. We can already see the shape of the change but there is not enough acknowledgement of how disruptive it will.

“Jobs we currently think of as core to accountancy will be automated – not just compliance work, but increasingly decision-making functions too. This does not spell the end of the chartered accountant. Rather it means finance professionals need to focus on being trusted strategic advisers, adding value by using their expertise and judgement to help business prosper.”

Participating chief executives from the financial services sector agree that young people coming into it now need to be equipped to support unprecedented levels of change. Separately, Odgers Berndtson is partnering with TheCityUK on a research study, to be published in the spring, looking at the impact of technology on roles, skills and employment in financial services.

“Leaders of the future must be prepared to think differently to deliver results. They will be dynamic, creative and most importantly, digitally-savvy,” commented Anne Jessopp, CEO of Royal Mint. “As a result of the advancement in digital technologies, customers now communicate with us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week using a range of channels.

“Our brand can be enhanced or damaged in an instant. The people who are successful in the business own the narrative, inspiring colleagues to put the customer at the heart of everything.”

David Stevens, CEO of Admiral Group, advises young people now considering a career in insurance to “challenge the norm and look at the details but don’t get bogged down. It’s more important than ever to ask questions, try things and learn from them, and to take an active interest in people. Young people should never forget that behind all of the numbers are people and not feel overwhelmed – business leaders all had to start somewhere.”

“We are in a new era of money where the moment of payment is becoming embedded in everyday experiences, like getting a taxi, streaming TV & music, or finding a hotel room,” stated Charlotte Hogg, CEO of Visa. “The biggest challenge is empowering the next generation of talent to speak out and have their voices heard.”

Mark Freebairn, a senior partner of Odgers Berndtson who leads the CEO for a Day initiative in the UK, added, “We want to do what we can to inspire young people from all backgrounds, and it’s exciting how many of the current business leaders we work with want to help with that too.”

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