Creativity, color, and fun might not be the first words that spring to mind when you think of capital markets, but I think that’s about to change. The growing emphasis on the customer and employee experience is challenging our industry to bring a dash of personality and levity to its products, services, and workplaces. Some firms are already today harnessing the metaverse and experimenting with new technologies like artificial Intelligence to enrich their content and humanize a range of everyday experiences. And the next wave of business transformation will go even further, shifting from building isolated digital capabilities to creating the foundation of a new reality, according to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2023.
The growing emphasis on customer experience will open a new front in the war for talent, with capital markets going head-to-head with other industries for the cream of the world’s digital creatives. And that means providing them with the flexible working environments they crave and surrounding them with the digital resources that they need to succeed.
In recent years, capital markets have learned that digital personality matters. We are living in an era of hyper-digitalization where most engagement is virtual, which strains an organization’s ability to forge personal and emotional connections with its customers and employees. Many firms are now trying to create authentic, meaningful experiences on both sides of the counter in capital markets.
Some firms have dived into the metaverse, hoping that the immersive new generation of the internet can humanize everyday customer experiences and enhance collaboration in their workplaces. For example, banks are aiming to harness AR and VR technology for plain vanilla tasks such as checking balances, paying bills, and making transfers. Some firms on Wall Street and the Square Mile are also using 3D experiences to enliven meetings and the onboarding experience for new employees.
Meanwhile, capital markets are also watching closely as some fintechs harness new technologies to connect with whole new groups of customers and investors. These small, agile outfits are e.g., awarding achievement badges for depositing money, using colorful charts and graphs to display portfolios, and offering a range of social investing features. Such experiences are often relevant and overwhelmingly natural. In other words, they have ‘personality’, which is crucial to driving the high-quality engagement and building the long-lasting relationships that are so valuable to capital markets.
War for creative talent
But it’s not easy to build a sophisticated digital personality. Firms will need to recruit highly skilled digital creatives to design and produce the high-level concepts that could resonate with their customers and employees. Capital markets will also need to lure these digital gurus away from what they might feel to be their natural home: the Silicon Valley or the world´s most creative agencies. Winning this part of the war for talent will not be easy.
Many capital markets firms could probably compete with big tech firms on compensation. But firms can’t rely on their financial muscle alone. They’ll also need to succeed in making young creatives feel ‘net better off’ in other ways: Satisfying their yearning for greater flexibility, and beefing up the provision of digital resources that will help this demographic to flourish in their roles are just two of them.
Our Accenture Future of Work Study 2021 revealed that most people want a hybrid model, where they sometimes work remotely and sometimes go onsite. Re-thinking hybrid working isn’t just a chance for firms to show that they’re ‘down with the kids’ but could also help to build top-notch experiences. Hauling people of an artistic temperament into an office for eight hours per day, five days a week, has probably never been a recipe for maximizing creativity. Allowing them the time and space to invent, innovate and iterate should obtain better results. Firms also need to evaluate whether they are turning up in the right sourcing channels to attract creative talent and whether their employer brand and proposition is attractive.
Firms can further unleash creativity by providing a wealth of digital resources that give their new creative recruits the opportunity to increase their skills. A laptop and some collaboration tools simply aren’t going to cut it with this demographic—they are more looking to work with an array of emerging technologies such as virtual reality.
Firms will need to complement these resources with an intangible ingredient, which is digital fluency, or the right blend of culture, leadership and skills that allow this workforce to thrive alongside their technology. Many creatives will probably be younger Millennials and ‘Generation Zers’, who will need to integrate into large, multi-disciplinary teams. Ensuring that creatives settle in, without ‘rocking the boat’ will require smooth onboarding and deft induction processes. Firms should also remember that adaption is a two-way street, and that their asset and wealth managers, software engineers and data scientists also could have plenty to learn from their new colleagues.
Overall, like other ‘craft’ based professions, many creatives are attracted, motivated and retained by being able to do their best work and do so with freedom. So, before you start hiring creatives, make sure you have good roles and the appropriate work for them to do—and think through how you will adjust working and management practices to enable them to do their best work.
Functionally complete and emotionally attached
Some firms might struggle with the challenge of creating experiences that pulsate with personality, while protecting their reputation for efficient financial management. A warm, natural, and distinct identity could be a valuable asset for firms, but it cannot come at the expense of their standing as serious stewards of capital.
But I think, it is worth learning how to walk this tightrope. In an increasingly digital world, capital markets have become functionally complete, but sometimes emotionally detached, and the cracks are starting to show. If firms fail to hone an authentic digital personality that that addresses the needs of their employees and customers, those cracks will widen.