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  • Writer's pictureRachel Treece

The five "leadership" traits that are needed now in financial services

The financial services industry has found itself constantly innovating to adapt to the requirements of the current time and a recent article by PWC on the Amazonisation of asset management makes for thought provoking reading.

But the industry is more than just transactions – customers/investors must be at the heart of everything. Most importantly, a culture of customer-focus is something that every leader in this industry has not just to strive for but to make its core.

I personally believe that these are some of the vital skills for leaders in financial services in the age of digital transformation and in a place where mergers and acquisitions are happening to add that value to clients.

1) The Kodak Effect or the paradigm shift - Be a visionary

Everything is changing at an unparalleled speed. In XXX year Kodak kept their focus on more traditional photography whilst Sony and other competitors foresaw the paradigm shift. For financial services to survive and thrive, their leaders must possess the ability to foresee and have a clear picture of what lies ahead.

2) Stop thinking about shareholders and think about the client.

The vast majority of investors haven't got a clue what the industry talks about. This is part of the "guile" that many industries uses to make the simple, complex (and therefore expensive) The end goal is surely be a part of a customer’s everyday life to make the purchase of an investment fund as uncomplex as ordering a book.

3) Have a deep understanding of the power of technology

It's all about tech. Everything is technology-based. The speed at which technology grows, financial services leaders must be more than tech knowledgeable. These leaders must think outside of the of the old financial services mindset. Digital transformation is the game changer and understanding the latest trends and technologies will enable leaders to gear up for the upcoming disruption and amazonisation,

4) Be completely adaptable

The rise of disruptive fintech startups means that stepping out of the old way is vital.

Even 10 years ago financial services was all about paper, and humans, Now it is about data, software and humans. Leaders need to be able to drive innovation and be able to adapt, Going digital means having a better reach to customers; hence, establishing stronger customer relationships.

5) Develop a high EQ and SQ

Financial services and banking are at the heart of any economy. Even communists cannot function without a bank.

Jeffrey Pfeffer’s book on white collar stress, “Dying for a Paycheck”, highlights tragic cases like that of Moritz Erhardt, the Merrill Lynch intern who died after an epileptic fit at the end of a 72-hour marathon stint. Erhardt's death prompted several banks to bring in new rules on the treatment of junior staff, but today's juniors say they're not always observed. 


A financial services leader should be able to help his employees regulate and navigate these emotional challenges by maintaining a strong EQ, and be an example. For employees to deliver an effective customer experience, they should have a culture where employee experience is given due importance.


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