monochrome-street-sceneLimited availability of key skills is seen as a threat to growth prospects by 70% of chief executives in the financial services sector,  a global survey by PwC shows.

Based on interviews with 410 financial services chief executives, the survey finds that the disruptive impact of new technology and new competition in the sector has created new challenges for employers looking to hire in the months ahead.

Technology is named as the most significant challenge for banking, insurance and asset management executives. “From the development of sharper human resources analytics to tapping into new pools of talent, most financial services firms are only just beginning to face these hurdles, creating opportunities for forward thinking and faster-moving businesses to pull ahead,” says PwC.

The PwC report A new take on talent shows that more than half of financial services business leaders are planning to increase their headcount over the next year, but the number of executives seeing skills shortages as a threat has risen from a previous high of 59% last year.

According to the report, concerns centre on the shortage of employees with the right combination of skills, with more than three quarters (78%) of executives looking for a broader range of skills when hiring than they did in the past. Only 5% are confident they can secure all the skills they need.

“The key challenge financial services chief executives are faced with is how to attract, train and retrain people who for example, combine digital and industry-specific skills – few as yet possess such hybrid capabilities,” said Jon Terry, PwC’s Global Financial Services HR consulting leader. “The findings show that industry leaders do recognise the extraordinary challenges they face. A new take on talent and how it is deployed are going to be vital in turning the challenge of industry disruption to an opportunity.”

Almost half of those surveyed by PwC say they plan to enter into a new joint venture or strategic alliance over the coming year. Nearly 40% see this as a way to access new and emerging technologies and to acquire the talent required.

Changing needs within the sector mean that employees with breadth rather than depth of knowledge are most sought by organisations creating more flexible and customer-centric experiences. These workers may lack specialist product expertise but their broader skills mean they are better able to move between clients, countries and assignments with flexible technical skills and multi-industry experience.