Financial services organizations of all kinds are waking up to a new source of business growth: the ability to unlock the potential of their people by using new technologies to secure vast amounts of data on work and the workforce. Over 90 percent of leaders in banking and insurance recognize the potential of this data to release value currently “trapped” in the enterprise. It can unleash new levels of business performance by boosting agility, productivity, innovation and workforce planning. It can also improve the lives of employees.

Such benefits are attracting growing attention from financial services executives. Our research reveals that nine out of 10 financial services firms are using new technologies and sources of workplace data to a large or significant extent. But just because we can collect this data, does it mean we should? Gathering and using new workforce data comes with real risk, as it places not only employee trust but even future revenue growth at stake.

The cost of decoding organizational DNA irresponsibly is high—as are the rewards of getting it right. And just a quarter of industry leaders say they’re very confident they are using workforce data in a highly responsible way.

26%

of insurance leaders say a C-suite executive is accountable for responsible use of data.

27%

of banking leaders say they’re very confident that they’re using data in a highly responsible way.

67%

of banking employees say recent data scandals make them concerned that their employee data will be misused.

89%

of insurance employees are open to the collection of data on them and their work if it improves their performance or well-being, or provides other benefits.

"At a time when companies are using newly available workforce data to drive greater value, responsible leadership is the key to building employee trust—(which) fuels growth by unlocking people’s potential."

– ELLYN SHOOK, Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, Accenture

The risks go both ways

Irresponsible use of workforce data could undermine revenue growth in financial services. Our research shows that 7.4 percentage points of future revenue growth are at stake in banking, while 5.9 are on the line for insurance.

But the rewards are high too. A responsible approach to workforce data management could increase revenue growth by 6.4 points for insurance and 7.7 for banking. The global value at stake for large publicly-listed companies is US$3.1 trillion.

So how should financial services organizations proceed?

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A framework for responsible business

Most financial services organizations have yet to put in place the right frameworks, policies and systems to ensure that they’re using workplace data in responsible, ethical ways that benefit employees. This is tough to get right—moving too fast exposes a company to dangerous risk, while moving too slowly can jeopardize its competitive position.

Accenture suggests taking action on three fronts to negotiate these tricky waters.

Give control. Gain trust.

Empower employees with greater control of their own data.

A majority of financial services employees say that in return for their data, employers will have to give them control over how it’s used. They want to own their work-related data and take it with them when they leave.

Financial services firms should ask employees whether they want to share data in exchange for benefits each time it is collected.

Share responsibility. Share benefits.

Earning trust and maintaining it over time are two different things. The latter requires sharing responsibility across the C-suite—and even beyond the organization.

Just 26 percent of insurance leaders and 25 percent of banking leaders say a C-suite executive is accountable for the responsible use of data right now. Consider employing ethicists to evaluate the potential impact of new data collection tools on employees and society. One option: Hire a Chief Ethics Officer.

Elevate people. Use tech responsibly.

The unintended consequences of new technology can be startling. But, used responsibly, it can itself help address these downsides.

For instance, AI can introduce subtle bias in workforce practices. But it can also help financial services organizations to identify people’s hidden and adjacent skills, to ease reskilling and retaining workers displaced by automation.

But just 37 percent of businesses validate the outcomes and recommendations of AI algorithms right now.

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