Trend watch: three areas of focus for professional services in 2019



With the Autumn arriving, so, too, comes planning season. So, we thought we’d give you a head start (you’re welcome!) and share three trends we think eyes and budgets will be on in 2019.


Dispel the myth of the Millennial


‘The people who work for you aren’t building a company for you, they are building it for themselves – they are the center of their own universe. Just because you are the CEO, doesn’t mean they are coming to work every day to make you happy. They want to be happy and it’s your job to keep them that way.’ 


Ben Lerer, CEO, Thrillist Media Group

Attracting talent can be one of the biggest challenges for organisations existing in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Arguably the most studied generation, for many varied and mythologised reasons, by 2020 it has been proposed that Generation Y will make up 35 per cent of the global workforce, and as much as 75 per cent by 2025. 

But sweeping the much-stereotyped poor work ethic and sense of entitlement aside, there are certain things that Millennials do look for in a company. According to a study conducted by specialist global recruitment firm Robert Walters, Millennials look for much the same as other generations with 91 per cent requiring rapid career progression and 68 per cent searching for a role they can grow in. However, many of their older colleagues fail to motivate and engage Generation Y on these terms. With 59 per cent of Millennial employees citing intergenerational conflict as a sticking point, there is clearly a good deal of work to be done.


So, where to start? It’s time to bust open the myths. Instead of throwing bean bags, pool tables and ball pits their way, learn to understand what they really look for in an employer or risk losing the talent your firm needs to be competitive.


Think human, not just artificial, intelligence


‘I often tell my students not to be misled by the name ‘artificial intelligence’ – there is nothing artificial about it. AI is made by humans, intended to behave by humans, and, ultimately, to impact humans’ lives and human society.’


Professor Fei-Fei Li, Director, Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL), Stanford University


With the doom-and-gloom message coming from the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane last month, you’d be forgiven for thinking that artificial intelligence will manifest itself through robots walking into your office and physically removing you from your desk. However, fear not the Armageddon as there is a bright side to AI: HI or human intelligence.


Whilst a McKinsey study found that 60 per cent of occupations could have 30 per cent of their activities automated, fewer than five per cent of occupations can be entirely automated using existing technologies. Furthermore, HSBC research proposes technological innovation will provide new career opportunities in the financial sector, roles that could also be applied to professional services. These findings have forced the bank to put its money where its staff is: ‘We are embedding a culture that encourages our people to view everything through a digital lens, changing our mind-set from inside out so that we can deliver a better experience for our customer,’ explained Josh Bottomley, Global Head of Digital, Retail Banking & Wealth Management, HSBC.


As Jeanne Meister, Founder, Future Workplace said: ‘Expect humans to work alongside artificial intelligence.’


Disruption versus transformation


'The biggest impediment to a company’s future success is its past success.’


Dan Schulman, CEO, PayPal


Transformation is the yin to disruption’s yang and whilst established organisations will not necessarily be the disruptors, innovate they must. As Paul Willmott, Director, McKinsey rightly points out: ‘In some ways, incumbents have a lot of benefits over new players, over start-ups. They have customers, they have great data, they often have a brand. They have financial resources, which a start-up may not have. The question is, can all of those capabilities and assets be deployed in a way that allows you to defend against new attackers as digital disrupts your industry?’


Yes, understand what you have but, most importantly, learn what your clients are asking of you in 2019 to act upon your advantage and be the success story within your industry, remembering that technology will be your friend in this endeavour, not your foe.