Building an agile workforce in Financial Services for the digital-first era

Financial Institutions(FIs) are witnessing a tectonic shift towards a digital-first approach, and the ongoing pandemic has further accelerated this shift. This blog outlines how FIs need to refresh outdated training processes and rewire the mindset of their employees to align with this change.

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Financial Institutions (FIs) have been witnessing a tectonic shift towards a digital-first approach, and the ongoing pandemic has further accelerated consumer and business shifts towards digital channels. As they navigate towards this new digital era, it is pivotal for FIs to rethink traditional business models, refresh outdated sales and training processes, and rewire the mindset of their employees to align with this change.

Across markets, the decline in a consumer’s desire to visit branches for transactions is expected to accelerate as consumers are quickly realising the ease and advantages of transacting through mobile apps, service bots and dedicated call centres.

How are roles and operations set to change at Financial Institutions?

According to McKinsey Financial Services, distribution will experience close to 3 years’ worth of uptake in the next 6-8 months, with respect to digital transformation programs. This would mean fewer branches, and staff that need to move away from traditional tasks and reskill to perform a complex set of roles and activities, primarily aimed at upselling, cross-selling and ensuring unique customer experiences.

Operations at call centres are also likely to be transformed, reducing the non-value-added activities by almost 30 percent. Traditional activities would be executed through Mobile and IVR, allowing customer service teams to focus on cross selling and upselling own and third-party services to boost profitability. 

Digital sales, servicing and the remote advisory channel are finally coming of age, handling complex needs remotely across developed markets. The HNI segment is showing traction and FIs are gearing up to make more investments in this space to boost channel profitability. All these changes are clearly focused on building a flexible and agile FI of the future. However, any service-centric institution is only as good as its frontline workforce – one that is flexible, robust and can rapidly adapt to change.

What are the challenges faced when training an ever-evolving workforce?

FIs, as with any other sector, deal with varying levels of maturity and experience across each of the frontline roles. As of now, any FI’s efforts in maximising frontline sales greatly depends on 3 fundamental things:

  1. Ability to drive frontline sales-staff proficiency and up-skilling.
  2. Building a strong training program and ensuring its implementation and adoption .
  3. Monitoring sales efforts against pre-set deliverables.

These elements are not only challenging to implement but are also difficult to sustain over longer periods. In addition, changes in business strategy, staff turnover, new product launches, and other factors can make it overwhelming. 

Rapidly evolving business models, regulatory constraints, and relentless pressure to hit short-term revenue targets are hindering FIs from focusing on continuous and sustainable employee upskilling. Bespoke training initiatives are expensive and have limited ROI as the training is limited to once a year, or as per compliance diktats. High attrition rates further complicate the issue.

How are FI’s training for current challenges faced by frontline teams? What are their shortfalls?

  • Scenario based training sessions and generic sales training – These have a short-term impact and do not measure understanding.

  • Blended training programs – Live guest sessions, workshops, materials – Limited by the amount of rostering to be done to bring a large number of people together at the same time / same place.

  • Internal certifications – Limit the learner to clearing threshold levels, rather than building skill sets. 

  • Role plays – Might not cover all set of interactions that frontline staff face.

  • Mentor / Mentee interactions – Limited by the amount of time a mentor can spend coaching the mentee.

  • On-the-job training – Shadowing an existing resource for a specific period of time can be a double-edged sword as the trainees could use learned approaches and styles that are not adaptable to all situations. 

According to PWC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, only 17 percent of financial-services CEOs say their organization has made significant progress in areas such as improving workers’ and leaders’ knowledge. Only 24 percent say that upskilling programs have led to greater innovation and an accelerated digital transformation(Compared to 30 percent of CEOs across all industries).


72 % of L&D leaders report that expectation of manager involvement in employee development have increased in the past three years.



How can data-driven learning help overcome these challenges?

The need of the hour, clearly, is a comprehensive and holistic data-driven approach to learning with stronger ‘skill and role readiness’ assessment. And like in tackling many other problem statements, AI has a potential role here. An AI-based intelligent learning platform, that can not only identify knowledge gaps but also provide for personalised training, can help organisations develop and implement sustainable upskilling programs.

RapL is a platform for bite-sized and personalized workplace learning which works with the mission of improving a company’s bottom-line by empowering frontline employees with job critical knowledge in an engaging manner. Learning is bite-sized, repetitive and data driven. Through a performance monitoring module, managers also have constant updates on how workers are learning.

The success of any FI would depend not only on how rapidly it can digitize its sales and services channels, but also on how quickly they can reskill their frontline workforce to provide a differentiated customer experience. RapL is geared towards helping FIs create such a skilled workforce.

Get in touch with the RapL team at to know more.

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