RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • HR in financial services lags other corporate functions in its ability to drive value from data.
  • Sound data quality, processes, systems, controls and governance are central in managing the risks attached to managing personal workforce data.
  • HR needs to sharpen its ability to manage data, plus play an enlarged role in building a cyber-secure workforce ready for the digital future.


Human resources (HR) functions in financial services (FS) organizations have historically under-invested in their data capabilities and infrastructure. The result? Many of them are not driving the full value they could from their vast reservoirs of data.

Perhaps even more importantly, they are not well prepared for the ever-stricter data privacy regulations and growing cyber-security risks they face as stewards of some of the organization’s most sensitive information. Some reasons that HR functions in FS organizations are not yet getting the optimal value from data and analytics include:

  • HR departments have not invested aggressively enough in their data skills, capabilities and governance structures.
  • HR IT landscapes are often complex due to lack of investment, legacy systems and organic growth without long term strategic planning. Therefore, data is scattered across fragmented business systems and processes. Quality is inconsistent, compatibility is limited, and access is hampered.
  • HR often sees data management as an IT issue rather than a business concern and does not assume accountability for its data.
  • Some organizations lack the basics of data hygiene—for example, definitions of data entities such as a full-time employee versus a contractor or part-time worker that are consistent across all countries and business units.

Digital trust and data privacy move up the agenda

As FS HR functions strive to become more data-driven they will encounter significant data quality and integration challenges in every HR activity and process. Taking accountability for data will empower HR to drive more accurate insights from analytics, reduce operational errors and increase confidence in its service among employees and the business.

Sound data quality, processes, systems, controls and governance are not only key to releasing the trapped value in HR data. They are also central in managing the reputational and regulatory risks attached to managing personal workforce data in a world where employees, regulators and other interested parties have put digital trust and data privacy firmly on the agenda.

GDPR is just the beginning of a worldwide shift to tighter regulation of how organizations manage and protect the personal data they gather.

Sensitive data under scrutiny

HR manages an array of sensitive data such as employees’ national identification numbers, social security numbers, bank account details, addresses, salary, disciplinary histories, and family details. A data breach could harm the employer brand, undermine trust in the HR function and its data among employees and business leaders, and open the organization to sanctions from regulators.

To meet the demands and opportunities of regulations such as Europe’s Global Data Protection Regulation, HR organizations need an approach that covers the acquisition, management, storage, transmission, usage, retention and deletion of information or data from employees, job candidates, former employees and other stakeholders.

HR can help drive better data security across the business

Not only does the HR function need to sharpen its ability to manage data (and keep it clean), it should also play an enlarged role in building a cyber-secure workforce ready for the digital future. In so doing, it can play a leading role in addressing one of the major challenges an FS business faces as the volume and velocity of data moving through the enterprise grows.

Steps to a data-fit HR organization

Financial services HR functions can no longer take a back seat when it comes to data governance, quality and protection. To maximize the potential value of its data, the HR function must recognize that data is not simply a technology concern, but an amalgamation of people, process and business.

HR leaders should focus on partnering with the CDO and the CIO to improve data governance and protection, but they must also take accountability for the quality and security of their data. They and their teams cannot ignore the ethical, privacy, regulatory and technical dimensions of data protection and quality, and how these impact on the workforce and the business.

Is your HR function ready to tap into the value of your data? To find out more and get started on your data fitness program, register to view the report.

About the Authors

Andy Young

Change Lead – Talent & Organization for Financial Services​


Yorrick Bakker

Technology Consulting Manager – Talent & Organization for Financial Services​


Thomas Goodacre

Managing Director – Technology Consulting, Talent & Organization for Financial Services​


Marc Le Claire

Management Consultant – Talent & Organization for Financial Services​


Susan Rice

Management Consultant – Talent & Organization for Financial Services​


David Boyd

Management Consultant – Talent & Organization for Financial Services​


Mel Lee

HR Transformation Lead – Accenture Financial Services

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