Investment banks will likely need to be able to attract the best and brightest talent to thrive in the future. But our research shows that’s getting harder to do. More recent grads want work that ignites their passions, and a workplace culture that is open and engaging. Investment banks just don’t tick those boxes anymore. Many older workers are also looking for opportunities elsewhere. For them, it’s often the perceived lack of innovation that’s pushing them away.

So how can the industry win the competition for talent when other companies are apparently offering more interesting, engaging and meaningful work? As we detail in our most recent annual Top 10 Challenges for Investment Banks report, one solution involves ramping up the use of digital tools, analytics and robotics.

Man and Machine

We all know that machines and artificial intelligence can automate certain processes. But they can also enhance human capabilities, facilitate decision-making, and improve the emotional intelligence and relationships that characterize a winning workforce. This brings the opportunity for investment banks to create new roles, change existing roles and improve the overall work experience. From new jobs in client service and service integration to enhanced responsibilities in cloud, relationship and risk management, digital adoption could give investment banks the chance to position themselves as talent destinations once again.

Getting it right

To thrive in the years ahead, investment banks might need to embrace humans and machines as critical “co-workers” and create an environment that plays to the unique strengths of both. We believe five actions could help put them on the right course:

  • Read the report.

    Conduct strategic workforce planning. As machines take over certain tasks, consider which human capabilities can be augmented, where human capabilities are needed most, and how people can be reskilled to perform more valuable work.

  • Create an “always-learning” organization. Digital transformation requires multi-skilled generalists who are flexible and learn quickly. Revise training programs and performance criteria so they promote and reward collaboration and continuous learning.
  • Use performance management as a development tool. Incorporate coaching and feedback from managers, other employees and, yes, even smart machines to help people learn, experiment and constantly improve.
  • Transform managers into machine collaborators who excel in judgment work. Revisit and realign talent sourcing, development and reward strategies. Orchestrate networks that push decision-making to the edges of the organization.
  • Build a culture of trust. Managers need to trust the data that machines provide and collaborate with machines to execute work. Be transparent in communications and involve people at all levels in the organization to co-create change.

In these ways, investment banks could have a much better chance of reversing the brain drain and winning the competition for talent.

So, what do you think? At a time when other industry leaders use machines to replace workers, are you ready to use machines to lure them back? If so, contact me at to get started.

In the meantime, check out the full report: Challenge 5: Getting it right with digital talent