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It's an extremely challenging time to be holding the reins of an HR team at a financial services institution, with 45 percent of senior executives revealing their companies are hit by cyber attacks as often as on an hourly basis. Plus, as new technology emerges, so do new avenues for hackers to find vulnerabilities and attack.

These ongoing data threats not only plague executives tasked with securing their organizations, but they also weigh heavily on HR departments in charge of hiring security teams that are up to the challenge. Below are the specific threats keeping financial services HR leadership up at night, and how they should strive to overcome them.

The Fears

There are a number of security-related concerns that today's financial services HR teams have, caused by a variety of internal and external factors:

1) Financial Services Firms Are Prime Targets

Financial services firms are targeted more than any other industry, with breaches tripling over the past five years, according to the latest report from Accenture.

2) Compliance Is Challenging and Costly

Compliance costs create enormous burdens on companies. Accenture found that the average cost of cybercrime for the industry has grown by 40 percent over the past three years, from $13 million per firm in 2014 to $18 million in 2017—that includes regulatory fines, legal expenses, restoration of customer losses and other costs.

The daunting responsibilities even push some businesses to reconsider their service lines—some banks and other financial institutions are shedding capital-intensive ventures in order to lighten the burden of regulatory compliance,research from Cornerstone OnDemand reveals.

3) Emerging Technology Presents a Threat

Looming rollout and adoption of 5G networks for smart phones could be the biggest data security nightmare yet. The technological advancement of 5G means more consumers and employees will bypass wi-fi and its accompanying security grid for speedier mobile networks, at work and at home, but these networks are also significantly more exposed from a security standpoint.

4) Employees Create Risk

Workers themselves often cause breaches by error or outright theft of information. Without fluid, constantly-updating, on-demand learning platforms that allow and encourage employees to stay on top of all new developments in their field, employees may not be up to date on the latest compliance requirements, and inadvertently break the rules, according to research from Cornerstone On Demand.

5) Breaches Hurt Recruiting

The regulatory load and fears of failing compliance tasks hurt recruiting efforts. Top candidates may choose to go to industries with a lighter compliance load, or to non-bank financial firms that don't have to play by as many strict rules.

Leading financial institutions spend $250 million annually on data security, but are regularly losing their best IT staff to competitors or other enterprises. Without top talent to execute strategy investments in high-end tech just won't cut it.

The Fixes

As these existing realities and emerging trends continue to plague financial services HR teams, they're faced with challenging questions: How do we recruit, educate and retain talent to handle cybersecurity, compliance and customer satisfaction, without crippling rates of burnout and defection?

The first step is adopting a multi-pronged approach to recruitment that encompasses education and retention through a trusted HR partner who is well-versed in automation, online employee learning and performance tracking.

Another key is to spend less on hiring by retaining existing talent through comprehensive learning, compensation, evaluation and succession plans aimed at cementing a loyal and skilled workforce. Ensure that compliance and IT security leaders are involved in planning ongoing employee training, so that every part of the team is up to date on the steps needed to block cybersecurity leaks, hacks or theft. This way, as security leaders become aware of upcoming challenges—i.e. vulnerabilities created by the 5G network—HR teams can take these new challenges into account when recruiting and interviewing.

And finally, because turnover will always be a reality, make it easy and enjoyable for candidates to apply—nine percent of candidates who have a negative experience in the process will tell family and friends not to purchase products or services from the company. Finding an HR software partner who can create early-stage skill screenings and maintain contact with good prospects is key to getting your positive story shared instead.

Photo: Creative Commons