Unprecedented volume of transformative change is impacting an industry.
The Financial Industry is going through a dramatic transformation as a consequence of changing and increasing customer expectations, Omni channels, disruptive competitors, innovative and emerging technologies, adoption of Agile, DevOps, digitization of business, and a move to cloud based solutions.  Cost reductions, economic forecasts, increasing top-line revenue, regulatory pressure and mitigating risk, weigh heavy on the minds of leaders, as do the relentless focus on cybersecurity and privacy that influences this seismic change.  
 
How do we navigate these changes?
Who is there to translate and interpret what our business and technology partners are each telling the organization in similar but different ways?  Will Agile be the key? Can it be left up to the Scrum Master, Agile Coach or Program Lead?  The scramble to seek the optimal path has become a heroic task requiring a deep breath to bring order to what seems to be confusing times.  The Business Analyst has an opportunity to become the beacon and serve as navigator through these turbulent waters. Reaching for this mantel has never been more important, than now.
 
Are today’s Business Analyst ready?
If you are just outside the millennial demographic, you may recall a Financial Industry that responded to change in a calm, steady, calculated, and methodical pace in a waterfall approach.  Recall a time when there were plenty of skilled and talented domain rich resources with the ability to act as conduits between business and technology; the Business Analyst who had a rich understanding of core business principles, deep domain knowledge, and good communication skills to gather requirements and document specifications for technical teams to use to deliver business solutions.  Can we operate like this in this time of “digital” disruption and change? The answer is, not any more.
 
If we fast forward a few years, we see that the times have indeed changed and so has the role of the Business Analyst.  The definition of “digital” continues to change rapidly. The pursuits of virtual banking, AI, machine learning and automation have become the key drivers of this change. The financial sector is also constantly adapting from a regulatory standpoint and these changes need to be incorporated across platforms, software and processes.  With Business Leaders focusing on third party platforms, open systems and APIs, a new role of business analysis is emerging. Organizations are seeing an increased need for “enhanced” business analysis. The new norm is a BA with deeper knowledge of both business and technical acumen required to work alongside integration and implementation throughout the product development lifecycle. We find the business pushing towards technology and technology pushing towards business, all focused on delivering the customer journey seamlessly end to end.  This is where the Business Analyst has a key role to play. 
 
What does this mean for the Business Analyst in the Financial Industry?
It means that there has never been a better time to upskill and build a broader understanding of financial business priorities (product and services), business operations (how they are delivered), culture and policies to collaborate with stakeholders to enable process automation. We have moved from a traditional Business Analyst who diligently captures detailed requirements and inputs, to a well-rounded BA, who is able to access a broader tool kit of expertise with keen business understanding of output, stronger interpersonal skills, design capabilities and the technical aptitude with both integration and implementation skills.
 
Candidates who are unsuccessful in upskilling will find it difficult to compete in this forever changing, fast paced digital environment. 
Not only do candidates need to adapt, so do the organizations that require them.  Search and acquisition of talent has become increasingly challenging for organizations in the financial sector as well as other sectors. Organizations are focused on ensuring that they have an internal talent pipeline by upskilling their current workforce, as well as ensuring effective mechanisms to attract external talent pools in what has become a very competitive environment. 
 
Financial Industries are also adapting to a changing workforce expectations and structural design.
New workforce models are forming, such as the “gig economy”.  Introducing the concept towards “gigs”, or another why to describe them - work experiences.  This fluid workforce concept present the need for the “enhanced” Business Analyst to be digitally capable and aware, forward thinking, and able to quickly change and adapt at speed. The BA will be the quarterback for change with less focus on the requirement gathering for weeks on weeks and more focus on desired output and or end product. Tomorrow’s FinTec Business Analyst will likely have the ability to do all the above and script in Python, Java and Ruby, mine Big Data and partner with technology team members on all things digital transformation.
 
In conclusion, to be an integral part of the financial industry transformation, learn more about digital product offerings, automation, user experiences, customer journeys, enhanced interpersonal skills, relationship management and ability to successfully navigate an organization while continuing to grow your Business Analysis acumen and domain knowledge.
 
Contributor: Matthew Lombardi, Head of External Talent Solutions, BMO Financial Group
 
 
     
  

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