Using new technology to reinvigorate the workplace

Among the many important topics discussed at our Audit Leaders Forum 2023, attracting and retaining talent loomed large. The audit profession has had its own reputational issues to address in recent years, but the “talent retention crisis” affects the entire UK finance industry.

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of UK Finance or its members.

This crisis has many causes – its solution requires a silo-free, inclusive approach to the modern workspace and workforce.

(Audit Leaders Forum 2023)

Designing an employee-centred workspace

The in-person workspace should be welcoming, encouraging creative interactions and exchanges of ideas along with quiet spaces for concentration and focus. The remote workplace now has the same degree of reality as the physical one. It relies on a set of up to date and user-friendly IT systems that enable people to stay mobile and work effectively from wherever they happen to be.

While every organisation will have its own particular working patterns, staff clearly welcome the option of a hybrid approach flexible enough to adapt to each individual’s personality, career phase, and stage of life.

Developing tech-based skills in the workforce

Employees want to grow their skill set, and they are looking for opportunities to enhance career prospects despite the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – the OECD has stated that “when considering all automation technologies, including AI, 27 per cent of jobs are in occupations at high risk of automation”.

Employers should therefore create a learning culture which encourages staff to try out the latest software, online courses and other educational resources, and serves to increase levels of competence across the firm.

Organisations themselves will be able to use these new technologies to enhance their hiring and retention processes. They can apply data analytics and AI to tasks such as measuring the success of their employee recruitment and how engaged employees are, as well as allocating resources to new projects.

Firms must also support their staff’s key workflows by providing advanced technology as an integral part of the operation, or – as Confirmation’s Kyle Gibbons explains – “the type of people you want to attract and retain will not stay with your firm”.

Incorporating third-party products and services

To assemble an effective IT ecosystem, companies should seek to involve third parties that can provide the best and most appropriate tech in their specialism. This will form part of an integrated approach to third-party relationships, which Deloitte argues is “rapidly becoming a pre-requisite for increasing efficiency, reducing costs… and meeting ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) targets”.

It is essential that these third-party vendors provide robust training and support, and ideally firms will design a single sign-on (SSO) for their employees – to reinforce security and blend the many tech components into a uniform user experience.

As a third party ourselves, we collaborate with numerous organisations to deliver audit software, enabling our partners to maintain control of their confirmation process. And we are just one of many organisations providing niche tech solutions to financial clients.

Generating an integration strategy for the entire firm

Companies need to offer different types of workspace and new ways of accessing the workplace, while adapting to swifter technological change, greater automation of roles, and the shifting demands of ESG – through an act of wholesale reinvention. Folding third-party technologies into the organisational structure forms a key part of their wider strategic vision.

According to Jose Martins, BNP Paribas’ Audit Request Team Leader, Confirmation has helped reinvigorate the bank’s internal audit process. For example, his team quickly assign requests to the correct location and rarely need to contact their clients during the two-month, performance-defining “busy season”. This is typical of the benefits that third parties can bring to a hard-pressed workforce in a dynamic financial firm.

Notes to editor

Confirmation, part of Thomson Reuters, is the leading digital platform and global network for confirming financial data. We help auditors, bankers, lawyers and businesses around the world work more efficiently, find truth in financial data, and detect fraud. Recognised as the industry standard for digital verification worldwide, today Confirmation helps 1.5 million users in 170 countries to confirm financial data.