Hang with us here – we don’t mean that the banking sector is turning into anything; banking is banking, but there are some significant changes afoot in how they position themselves to the candidate market. And the change is pretty rapid.
Most of us have heard of the wild and wonderful perks of holding down a job at some of the coolest tech companies in Silicon Valley. Things like free beer, free food, arcade games, and thinking corners have routinely been offered as standard, whilst some also offer some more niche benefits like valet parking, spa treatment and ski-passes (and the time off to use them).
With the generosity and range of benefits on offer, it’s not surprising the tech industry put a massive squeeze on many other companies, who were offering more traditional packages. Add to that the lure of living on the US west coast, with its cities, beaches, nature, and culture. It wasn’t long until other companies responded.
Fast-forward to present day and the UK-market, we are seeing a rapid and unprecedented cultural shift within the once so conservative banking and finance markets, which, according to our sources, is primarily driven by fierce competition for talent and the proliferation of co-working spaces and their culture of working.
Employees simply no longer feel that the traditional working experience in the financial sector offers them what they want. The expectation of working 60+hours a week, at the cost of family life, spare time, and sometimes even mental health, is no longer worth financial benefit alone.
In the city of London, banks are increasingly turning to alternative real estate providers like WeWork for their office space, particularly in these times of uncertainty due to Brexit. This is a quick and effective way of both offering a working environment that is aligned with the values of millennials, start-ups, and the tech scene, whilst also de-risking their own real estate holdings.
But is it realistic to expect that emulating the tech sector in this respect will sway talent in a meaningful way? Or is it just cosmetic, a way of solving a real-world problem with cosmetic changes, or can they really pull off the type of culture change that we imagine is needed to really compete with tech for talent?
Well, from what we are seeing at the moment, they are at the very least earnest in their efforts to change the perception of banking and financial services in the minds of prospective employees. And considering their traditional financial muscle when it comes to remuneration, it sure adds up to a potent honey pot.
But the question that lingers in our minds is: if you turn the dials of production, and, in effect, increase the talent related cost-base, will that not negatively impact profitability? Given the history of banking to always come out on top, we suspect that the benefits to the employers are at least enough to offset the increased cost, and perhaps even drive profitability. And central to all of it is technology.