Information Technology, Organisations, and People: Transformations in the UK Retail Financial Services Sector

By Jeff Watkins | Go to book overview

13

EFFECTS ON SENIOR AND MIDDLE MANAGERS

Senior managers

In a time of rapidly changing markets, an industry sector as conservative as the retail financial services sector requires a new blend of administration, management and leadership skills in order to survive and prosper. Corporate transformation requires a shift in emphasis from administration to management and leadership. For many companies, especially if they have been successful in the past, the transition can be very difficult. Many senior managers are more concerned with the status quo than change and transformation. Yet this kind of change is vital if financial services firms are to reflect the new business conditions, which require a new approach to risk, whilst at the same time maintaining their image as a safe place for people to invest their money

The industry is receiving two contradictory messages. It has to maintain its image of being safe, stable and conservative whilst being dynamic, entrepreneurial and flexible at the same time.

(Focus group participant)

Senior management in the UK retail financial sector has been, and to a large extent still is, dominated by professionals from a particular industry sector, many of whom have spent their entire working lives in the same field, often in a single company. Although there has been some movement into the sector by outsiders, particularly at CE level, as seen at Barclays Bank, N&P, Sun Life over the past five years, it does not represent a widespread trend, as it is not easy and there is some resistance from existing senior personnel:

Senior management tend to believe that the necessary skills do not already exist within the company and that there isn’t time to develop them internally. Bringing in new people from outside the company often to high levels has further destroyed the career path, trust and the old culture.

(Focus group participant)

-195-

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