2024 Insights: The Future of Learning Investment for Financial Services Companies

From the adoption of generative AI technologies to the escalating cybersecurity landscape, let's delve into these trends for financial services companies. 

A part of QA’s 2024 Learning Insights series.

Technical turbulence in the shape of AI, Cloud, and Data require financial services companies to be more agile and competitive than ever.  With 2024 well underway, QA learning experts have identified several key predictions and learning trends poised to reshape the industry – all based on industry expertise and our vast internal data sets of thousands of UK companies. From the adoption of generative AI technologies to the escalating cybersecurity landscape, let's delve into these trends for financial services companies. 

Financial Services - Learning Trends & Insights

Cloud Adoption and Agility Take Centre Stage 

At the beginning of the year, IBM's  Priorities for Financial Services in 2024 discussed five priority areas for technology in financial services: Digital, Cloud, Cybersecurity, AI, and Operational Resilience. Notably, they forecasted that cloud adoption in financial services would reach an inflection point in 2024 – a projection echoed in our own observations. 

More financial institutions are set to embrace cloud-native architecture and hybrid cloud strategies to build scalable applications. This is thanks to the rapid advancements of powerful generative AI tools which are capable of assisting in code discovery and migration.

Our data underscores the importance of cloud skills, anchored by a broader foundation in Agile and DevOps. As in past years, Agile, Lean, & DevOps remain major areas of learning investment, with a growing trend toward Agile SAFe as a methodology that scales well for larger institutions. These skillsets empower banks, insurance companies, fintech firms, and similar entities to swiftly deliver diverse financial products. 

Enhanced Data Privacy and Regulatory Compliance 

According to IFA Magazine, the finance industry is the second-least cyber-secure industry in the UK, recording 305,785 individual security breaches in 2022 alone – an average of 18.45 breaches per employee. Growing regulatory scrutiny and consumer concerns propel increased investment in data privacy measures and adherence to related laws and regulations. 

Given the daily handling of sensitive personal information, data privacy and regulatory compliance are paramount to banks. Implementing additional security mechanisms such as encryption, access controls, and regular audits will help to safeguard customer information and comply with stringent regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations. 

Furthermore, as financial services businesses leverage more technologies such as cloud computing and AI, regulatory compliance and security protocols become increasingly important. Data breaches pose significant risks in these digital environments, forcing the financial services sector to develop response plans and conduct regular cybersecurity assessments.

Rapid adoption of Generative AI technologies 

Accenture reported that financial services are likely to benefit more from generative AI than other industries, with a 22-30% uplift in productivity and a potential 6% increase in revenue. However, it would require banks to not only fully adopt modern cloud services and data management practices, but also rethink workflows and talent recruitment. 

The trend of heightened investment in data and AI training continues to grow, indicating that Financial Services companies are creating new products to enhance customer experiences with AI-enabled capabilities. Banks currently employ generative AI technologies for customer service-related tasks like virtual assistants and fraud detection. Instead of directly utilising generative AI, it will likely be embedded as part of an existing solution to provide additional functionality and automation. It could be implemented to enhance risk assessment, tailor services to individual customer preferences, and potentially extend to creating content such as documents. 

Blended Learning Solutions for Financial Talent

The competition for skilled tech talent remains fierce for both established financial institutions and small businesses. However, there’s a growing trend of reskilling front-of-house workers, and upskilling existing staff at scale to become tomorrow’s technological workforce.

What’s particularly intriguing is the emergence of tailored learning combinations. These combine Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) for immersive and interactive deep dives, self-paced learning platforms for on-demand exploration of cutting-edge technologies, and apprenticeships to onboard or reskill talent.


Agility and Change Management stand as the bridge to the future 

In navigating the evolving landscape of financial services, the ability to swiftly adapt and effectively manage change will become critical factors for achieving success. Ian Clarkson, Director of Portfolio Management and learning expert, says: “The best banks, insurance, and building organisations have excellent change management and Project and Programme Management as their lifeblood. Fast development and quick pivots are simply a must—precisely as companies also embrace an ‘all-in’ approach to Cloud, Data, and AI. Integrated training across these is what will unlock talent and skills to pave the path forward in our new future.”

Paddy Dhanda, QA’s Agile Practice Director, adds, “We also see an increasing trend for scaling Agile beyond 1-2 teams — thus the emerging popularity of Agile certifications like SAFe, which scale well. This started in regulated industries like Banking and Financial Services. In addition, we predict the future of agile will be characterised by a significant shift away from traditional project-based approaches and towards product-centric thinking. Learning will have to balance human skills with new AI tools to enhance product development and delivery.”

Cybersecurity continues to be a priority

In this rapidly evolving digital landscape, where financial services are embracing transformative technologies like cloud computing and AI, the imperative for robust cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated. As AI systems become more integrated into financial operations, they bring unprecedented efficiencies but also heighten vulnerability to sophisticated cyber threats. Therefore, alongside compliance efforts, proactive cybersecurity strategies tailored to the nuances of AI-driven ecosystems are crucial for safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining trust in the financial sector’s digital evolution.

QA’s Cybersecurity Practice Director, Richard Beck, reflecting on the contribution new AI technologies have made to the cybersecurity landscape, says “Cybersecurity isn’t going anywhere, particularly in light of the developments in AI and the recent European Union AI Act. Every organisation building or consuming AI tech will need AI security and AI governance skilled professionals.”

Capturing the advantage of AI via the public Cloud 

Harnessing the power of AI through the public cloud will be a transformative strategy for financial services companies in 2024. Andy Larkin, VP of Content at QA’s Cloud Academy, underscores the significance of Cloud Adoption, stating, “While many large banks and insurance firms have started their cloud migration, 100% adoption and 100% efficiency are still in the future. I expect midsize and regional organisations to follow suit into the cloud, particularly as the cloud provides the capacity for AI and tremendous productivity, efficiency, and personalisation for finance products,”

He continues, “Success with Cloud Adoption always comes back to three key variables: The level of top-down commitment you show, the level of incentive you provide, and foremost - the level of training you make available. No one is born a Cloud or AI expert!  It is all learnt. Access to training is the one success variable you can influence during all stages of the project”  


To find out more about how QA’s learning solutions can help you upskill and reskill your talent, contact us today.


Written by QA, with insights drawn from anonymised learning investment data and industry trends.