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Changing career paths in Asia's banking and financial services sector

By Stella Tang

As Asia's financial services sector continues to evolve, so too are the opportunities facing banking and finance professionals.

No industry stands still for long – certainly not in the digital age, and this has definitely been the case for Asia's banking and financial services sector.

The changing needs and circumstances of customers and clients are reshaping the industry with five key factors driving change in the career paths of financial services specialists.

1. Technology is revolutionising business
The way data is handled and the growing reliance on cloud technology is revolutionary across Asia's business sector.

Unprecedented levels of connectivity and the ability to instantly access and share critical information is allowing financial services professionals to engage with customers and clients on a deeper level than ever before.

For Asia's banking sector, the challenge is to respond and keep up with the pace of change.

2. Asian consumers are flocking to digital banking services
A recent McKinsey report on digital banking in Asia confirms the region's consumers are turning to computers, smartphones, and tablets in droves to do their personal banking.

Across Asia, more than 700 million consumers use digital banking regularly, and not surprisingly this is fueling the rise of new services and offerings.

Financial services providers, both new and established, must be prepared to cater to this need in order to remain competitive.

3. The landscape is increasingly competitive
Asia is emerging as the world's largest economic trade zone, and this is attracting new entrants to the financial services industry.

The largest players find themselves facing fresh rivals – many offering innovative services and products, as they all vie for similar customers and clients.

For professionals building a career in Asia's banking sector, it is critical to be outward-looking and innovative.

Employers, on the other hand, are having to work hard to attract and retain top talent.

New providers are creating job opportunities, and many businesses across Asia's banking sector are discovering their best people aren't prepared to wait around and rise through the ranks to achieve promotion.

Quality people can take their expertise to competitors, who will embrace professionals with proven financial services experience.

4. Businesses are diversifying into financial services
In many parts of the world, Asia included, large companies are adding financial services to their product menu driven by expanding household wealth.

Some leading supermarket chains, for instance, now sell insurance and credit cards.

This diversification is attracting talent away from traditional financial services companies as multiple career paths are opened up.

For financial services professionals it is supporting a growing range of opportunities to enhance personal skill sets.

5. Need for partnering skills
Businesses globally are required to tick a greater number of boxes than in the past including sustainability, efficiency, and corporate best practice.

This has seen financial services professionals step beyond the traditional role of fiscal responsibility.

Today's employees are called on to partner with many other different departments and teams within a business, delivering strategic insights back to key stakeholders.

The upshot is that skilled banking and finance professionals across Asia no longer face a narrow or even predictable career path.

The combined forces of technology, competition, and innovation are enabling Asia's banking professionals to choose different routes to build rich and varied careers.

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