This chapter examines the changing role of professionals in the retail financial services sector. It begins with a short overview on the growth of professional groups in general. In common with many other industry sectors, there has been a large increase in managerial staff, professionals and associate professionals in the retail financial services sector between 1981 and 1990. The sector employs large numbers from both the traditional professions, such as actuaries, solicitors, bankers and accountants, and from the newer professional groups, such as marketing, human resources, information technology, and financial advice personnel. Additional information included in this chapter is from a series of surveys over five years looking at the future of the professional workforce (see Watkins and Drury 1992; 1993; 1994).
Today the term ‘professional’ is used to describe the activities of a wide range of people across many occupational groups. The current Standard Occupational Classification defines a professional as one who has a professional qualification or a degree plus a postgraduate professional qualification. Professionals defined thus represented approximately 15 per cent of the workforce in 1990 and this is expected to reach 30 per cent by the year 2000. It is predicted that the UK employment pattern will follow that evident in the USA. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics Survey, of the 2.2 million new jobs created in 1995, more than 72 per cent were in managerial and professional, mainly in health care, education, financial services, business services, the media and telecommunications. By. the end of the decade there will be over 10 million workers in the UK who can be classified as managers, professionals or associate professionals. Almost all of these will be involved in knowledge-intensive work and they will require a high-level education and continuing professional development throughout their careers.