Talent and Leadership in Financial Services

Rob Moss, Training Manager

Our industry is evolving at speed.  Shifting consumer behaviour, rapid developments in fintech and a dynamic regulatory environment combine to force a pace of change that threatens to leave some firms behind. Finding and keeping the ‘right’ people is critical to remaining relevant and competitive. But it is not easy. There is an abundance of statistics confirming what we all know to be true – that there is a scarcity of the ‘right’ people and of leadership talent in the UK. 

The research around skills shortages and staff retention makes for sobering reading.  A 2023 government survey of over 70,000 companies identified that approximately a quarter (23%) of employers reported having vacancies, with one in ten (10%) indicating a shortage of candidates with the necessary level of skills, qualifications and experience.  (1) When it comes to hard-to-fill roles, the Financial Services Skills Commission discovered a staggering 92% of member firms were struggling to appoint for these posts. (2) 

Despite the pressing need to address gaps in skills, government research reveals a worrying trend around the ‘skills gap density’, which is the number of employees considered not to be fully proficient by their employer.  This percentage has increased from 4.4% in 2017 to 5.7% in 2022. The financial services sector has seen the highest increase in skills gap density, rising from 5% in 2017 to 7.7% in 2022. This is the largest increase by sector in the UK. (1) 

Holding on to staff is important and workplace culture seems to be as motivating as wage rises. Of the 4,500 people surveyed by YouGov for the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), nearly a third left because of a toxic working environment – directly attributable to poor management.  Additionally, half of those who did not ‘rate’ their manager planned to leave their jobs within 12 months. (3) 

The same survey found that 82% of new managers in the UK were not provided with any formal training for their new role. Across all industries, this was still 26% among established senior managers, while only 17% of financial services workers have been offered leadership and management training. (4) 

Good leadership matters, which is why the FLA is introducing new training courses in response to prominent industry gaps.  As the FLA’s new training manager, I have listened intently to members to identify what good leadership looks like for our industry.  Members have requested that we prioritise the development of attributes such as flexibility, critical thinking and workforce collaboration. These qualities were also identified as the most important in PwC’s 2023 global workforce survey of 54,000 workers, which discovered that 39% of financial services employees said their company would not survive a decade on its current path. (5) 

There are very few industries currently addressing the training gap in management skills for their specific sector.  This makes the FLA’s proposition unique.  Indeed, it will be the only training of its kind, exclusively focussed on the needs of asset, consumer and motor finance professionals operating in the UK market and delivered in this way. 

The emphasis will be on collaborative learning between industry peers operating in the British market and will also contain one-to-one coaching.  This element is important in providing individuals with the tools to understand their strengths and blind spots, identify goals and create a tangible career action plan. 

This is the first of a series of programmes we intend to run with a Leadership Development and Executive Leadership programme in the pipeline.  The courses will be flexible enough to accommodate new and aspiring leaders, and those already operating in financial services management and will bring significant value to both the individual and the company they work for. 

To find out more about the FLA’s Leadership Essentials programme please visit our website at: https://fla.org.uk/events-and-training/events/leadership-essentials-243640/.



  1. https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/employer-skills-survey
  2. https://wp.financialservicesskills.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/FSSC-Future-Skills-Interactive-V12.pdf
  3. https://www.managers.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/CMI_BMB_GoodManagment_Report.pdf
  4. https://wp.financialservicesskills.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/WEB_Future-of-FS-workforce_KPMG-FSSC_October-2020.pdf
  5. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/c-suite-insights/the-leadership-agenda/financial-services-workers-want-a-course-correction.html


Published 02 May 2024

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