PwC report suggests up to a fifth of future workforces in financial services could be gig employees

25 February 2021 — Alexandra GUZUN
PwC report suggests up to a fifth of future workforces in financial services could be gig employees
More than half (52%) of financial institutions say they expect to have more gig-based employees over the next three to five years, according to PwC's report, "Productivity 2021 and beyond: Upskilling the workforce of the future to create a competitive advantage in financial services."

According to PwC, importing the digital and specialist skill sets of gig workers is critical to driving digitization and upskilling within financial services. PwC predicts that in the next five years gig workers will perform 15% to 20% of the work of a typical institution.

Even if the financial institutions will use the gig economy workers to upskill workforce, there are a number of hurdles to overcome with firms worried about confidentiality, lack of knowledge and regulatory risk of gig economy workers. The survey shows that the most common issue cited by respondents include confidentiality concerns (44%), a lack of knowledge (43%), regulatory risk (42%) and overall risk avoidance (37%).

The PwC productivity research received over 60% of responses from C-suite leaders from the total of over 500 financial services businesses globally that were surveyed and looked at some key workstreams implemented by financial services businesses and evaluated its impact on productivity.

The upskilling of the workforce is a key element to improving productivity within financial services. This includes better understanding of the workforce, embracing the platform economy and gig workers and making sure employees are equipped with the right digital tools, specialist knowledge and soft skills to navigate in the new normal of the business world. Firms need new capabilities - both in-house and through outsourcing - as technology solutions increasingly involve collaboration with third parties.

Despite increasingly available on-demand talent, most institutions still rely primarily on full-time and part-time employees. 1Among respondents, contractors comprise just 9% of the workforce, and gig-economy talent makes up just 5%.

PwC believes that gig economy employees will likely perform 15% to 20% of the work of a typical institution within five years, driven by continuous cost pressure and the need to access digitally skilled talent.

Beyond the gig-economy, crowd-sourcing solutions were also highlighted as a key contributor to improve productivity. Crowd-sourcing has more than doubled since 2018, cited by 50% of the survey's participants, from 21% in the first survey, of which 80% of respondents who leveraged crowd-sourcing believed it added 'high value' to their organisations. This is a significant increase from just 39% who felt it would add value in 2018.

John Garvey, PwC's Global Financial Services Leader, PwC US, commented: "Leaders in the industry are looking seriously at their workforces to evaluate which roles need to be performed by permanent employees and which can be performed by gig-economy workers, contractors or even crowd-sourced on a case-by-case basis. COVID-19 and remote working have opened the door to accessing talent outside of a firm's physical location, including outside of the country. What we are seeing now is a talent marketplace for gig workers in financial services, competing to take advantage of their specialist skill set and boost productivity within their businesses."

He added: "Many of the most valuable companies in the world share one thing in common: they have embraced the platform economy as a business model. They operate with relatively few full-time employees and an increasing percentage of gig-economy talent and skills that they can access on-demand, making the organisations far more innovative, nimble and cost-efficient," said John Garvey.

Nicole Wakefield, PwC's Global Financial Services Advisory Leader, PwC Singapore, added, "Gig economy workers also add value by immediately bringing the digital skills needed by financial services firms to improve functions such as customer experience and improving institutional resilience, while the full-time workforce is being upskilled."

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