Financial Services Research

UK financial services sector reports data skills gap

  • Over a quarter (27%) of senior executives from UK financial services firms say their business doesn’t have the right skills in place to maximise the value of data in their organisation.
  • A similar proportion (31%) of respondents say there is a lack of data literacy across their organisation more widely, and 39% say that the C-suite does not fully understand the value of data.
  • An effective data strategy considered a key contributor to overall business success; clear objectives, a detailed roadmap, and tech platforms, all part of the path to improvement.

21 February 2022, UK: The skills gap in the UK has been widely documented over recent years, and now new research from Cynozure shows that the financial services sector is feeling the impact of this.

More than a quarter (27%) of financial service firms in the UK don’t have the right skills in place to maximise the value of data in their organisation. Data literacy – the ability to read, write and communicate data within a particular context – is critical to maximising the value of data within a business, but nearly a third (31%) of respondents say there is a lack of data literacy in their organisation.

There is also a lack of understanding around the benefits that data can bring. In the UK, over half (52%) of respondents say that the biggest barrier to introducing or improving the use of data in their organisation is that the return on investment isn’t clear enough. Furthermore, a fifth (20%) of UK respondents say there are not enough people in the business who understand data, meaning that it isn’t engaged with.

For data strategies to become fully embedded, and data used effectively across an organisation, the C-suite must be fully bought in and engaged. However, in the UK – 30% of respondents say that senior leaders are not involved in data decisions, and 39% say that the C-suite does not fully understand the value of data.

Given the volume of personal information they hold, financial institutions – particularly banks – are in a unique position to use data insights to develop more tailored, relevant products and services for customers. This has never been more prevalent than now, when the cost of living crisis is impacting the finances of millions and exacerbating the demand for personalised financial solutions.

Indeed, 94% of respondents agreed that, as the cost of living crisis worsens, data insights will be an important way to support customers. But this will not be possible if the right skills are not in place to develop data-led solutions.

There are clear steps that organisations can take to improve their use of data, starting with developing a clear understanding of the objectives they’re looking to achieve through data and ensuring these align with the overall business strategy. Once these foundations have been established, the business can progress to finding and implementing the right tech platform, building out a realistic roadmap that prioritises key steps, and focus effort into improving data literacy within the business, whether that be through investing in data experts, or upskilling existing employees.

Jason Foster, CEO and Founder of Cynozure, comments: “Used correctly, data can bring a host of benefits to organisations in the financial services space, particularly at the moment when many people are looking for more personalised financial support to support them through the cost of living crisis. The findings of our research reveal a significant opportunity for financial services firms in the UK to revamp their data strategies and start benefitting from the expanse of insight that data can provide.”

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