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What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

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What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

The answer to this question really depends on when and who you ask. If you were to ask this question to those in the finance or fintech industry a quarter ago, you would have gotten a very different answer — probably having to do with artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented reality (AR). In short, it would likely be based on the presumption that the future would be more or less like the present, just a bit more “sci-fi.”

What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

COVID-19 has completely changed these assumptions. Faced with the very real challenge of not having staff in the office, most financial firms have had to completely rethink not what the future of work would be like, but the present: How to enable teams to work from home, hire and onboard remote employees and move forward once the crisis is over.

I think one of the most important outcomes of this crisis is not the economic impact but rather the lasting change we’ll see in human behaviors. Anyone who underestimates this and believes we’ll be back to business-as-usual in three months is deluding themselves. After 9/11, the entire airline industry adopted — and kept — all of those “temporary” security measures. It’s been 19 years since, and we still can’t carry a bottle of water onto a plane.

It will likely be the same with work: The behaviors employees and employers learn now will stick. So, what trends surrounding the future of work in finance can we already see?

What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

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After getting a taste of working from home (or wherever they like, post-lockdown), it may be hard to get employees to accept something else. This is especially true in finance — already one of the industries with the longest hours and amount of “face-time.

” This doesn’t mean that all banks will shut down their offices and send their staff home, but we should expect top talent to move to the ones that are remote-friendly, especially in the high-flying, hyper-competitive front-office roles.

Additionally, the switch to remote work in finance (and most industries) was so sudden and brutal that it will shape and accelerate all other trends.

What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

Although, one fairly common complaint is that remote work can be less efficient than on-site work. According to fintech CTO Vladimir Agaev, “It is important to distinguish between work efficiency and the number of working hours that an employee gives per day.”

Companies like Google have a very open work-from-home policy and even give away a day per week to its developers for personal projects. This has been linked to increased productivity and better employee happiness.

Nowadays, office jobs are full of inefficiencies (e.g., endless meetings, commuting, etc.). I strongly believe that remote work, with good time management and leadership, can be as efficient as office work.

Decentralization

Decentralization is another trend that has entered the finance vocabulary recently — along with the “blockchain hype” of 2017 — and is one that I think is here to stay.

To be clear, I’m not talking about building a company without a central authority or no leadership. In the context of the future of work, decentralization simply means having a different incentive structure — one that enables and enhances each team member’s ownership of their work. An example would be paying equity researchers based on performance instead of the classic flat salary, plus bonus. This would align incentives across both investors and active managers by adding a “skin in the game” component.

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Decentralization is one trend that will likely be significantly accelerated by the shift to remote work. A remote-friendly culture cannot survive without a degree of autonomy, work ownership and decentralization. Imagine how dystopian the alternative would be: monitoring apps, GPS tracking, always-on cameras. It may very well happen, but I can’t imagine Gen Zers choosing this over a decentralized structure.

Competition

The fact that the finance industry is now more competitive than ever is not news, especially if you’re a finance student stressing over “spring week” (if you’re not in finance, this is like an internship to get an internship). Even Blackstone’s CEO said that he would not have hired himself if he were to apply now.

What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

This trend will only intensify again — accelerated by the shift to remote work.

Having remote teams means companies can hire from anywhere, not only from the major financial hubs. A London-based graduate may compete with candidates from Singapore to rural Estonia for the same role.

On top of this, freelance platforms like Toptal or Upwork could make it harder for companies to justify hiring someone full-time and in the office. Why overpay when you can get excellent talent on-demand?

In any case, I’m not trying to forecast — these trends are already here. For instance, my startup has had remote team members for a year now, has hired plenty of freelancers and is also building a decentralized alternative to a traditional hedge fund where analysts get paid based on performance alone.

What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

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What This Means For Finance Talent

What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like? What students interested in a career in finance should do today is not try to predict the future, but position themselves to take advantage of these existing trends.

First, invest in yourself by taking hands-on classes that cover things you don’t study in school. For example, Excel modeling on LinkedIn Learning or intro to data science on Udemy.

Second, show that you’re passionate about asset management by creating and managing a virtual portfolio, either on a trading platform or on an alpha capture platform.

What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

Third, make yourself visible. A great start is to publish equity analysis pieces online or to get involved in investing communities and forums.

What I would like to stress is that this isn’t a prediction — to paraphrase a famous quote by William Gibson, “the future is here, just not equally distributed.” All of these trends — remote working, decentralization, increase in competition — are already happening.

The only thing that matters now is how you will position yourself to make the most of them.

What Will The Future Of Work In Finance Look Like?

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