The finance sector has seen huge disruptions over the last two decades. Developments in FinTech, cryptocurrencies, cloud computing and automation have changed the jobs – and skills requirements – of everyone in the industry, from financial managers and analysts to stockbrokers, traders, fund managers and bankers. And hot on these heals comes a slew of new regulations that have a ripple effect on an organisation’s operations.
This makes it important for anyone working in the field to upskill and reskill to stay ahead of the game and meet challenges head-on. In today’s blog, we look at two of the most important skills you need to thrive in the digital financial economy: problem-solving and adaptability, and why these are important.
Why is problem-solving important in finance?
Problem-solving is a complex soft (power) skill involving critical thinking, decision-making, creativity, and information processing and refers to your ability to handle unexpected or difficult situations and solve complex business challenges.
How problem-solving is used in finance:
- It’s essential in risk management to assess potential threats and develop mitigation strategies and contingency plans.
- Helps in understanding customer needs and creating customer-centric solutions that enhance the user experience.
- Makes it easier to interpret regulatory and compliance changes, navigate grey areas, and develop compliant frameworks.
- Allows you to make ethical decisions and establish practices that align with both technological progress and societal values.
- Helps streamline processes, allocate resources efficiently, and minimise wastage to optimise resources while managing changing priorities.
How to enhance your problem-solving skills
Being a good listener, seeing problems as opportunities and thinking outside of the box are key traits of problem solvers. You can develop this skill by taking a course in problem-solving and critical thinking – it will show you how to break problems into their parts, define the root causes vs. symptoms, and establish a solutionist mindset. You can further hone this skill with these actions:
Engage design thinking
Explore the principles of “design thinking” – a human-centred approach to problem-solving and innovation that focuses on the solution to a problem instead of the problem itself.
Collaborate with others
Problem-solving involves creativity, a skill that is heightened when collaborating with others, exploring diverse perspectives and questioning assumptions. For instance, team members could discuss the problem during brainstorming, generate novel ideas and create as many solutions as possible.
Problem-solving through data
Data gathered from a range of sources is a problem-solver’s secret weapon. Using different techniques and tools to analyse and interpret data, such as statistics, formulas, functions, or visualisations, you can look for evidence, explanations, and hypotheses to help you solve the problem.
Why is adaptability important?
We previously wrote about the adaptability quotient, a metric that measures your ability to overcome challenges or adversity. At its core, adaptability is a combination of five other important soft skills: flexibility, proactivity, resilience, emotional intelligence, and creative and analytical thinking.
How adaptability is used in finance:
- Being able to quickly and easily adapt to new technologies means you stay relevant in a tech-driven landscape.
- Sudden market fluctuations, economic downturns, and regulatory changes require agile decision-making so you can reevaluate risk management, investment options, and market forecasts.
- You’ll need to quickly respond to changing consumer demands by customising products, services, and communication channels.
- To proactively anticipate and embrace industry changes, you must engage in lifelong learning, readily seeking out new information and skills to stay current.
- Disruptions go hand-in-hand with setbacks and failures. Adaptable individuals are more resilient, using their flexibility to explore alternative paths.
How to become more adaptable
Being able to change your thoughts and actions to better suit a new environment is vital in the modern workplace. Here are some ways to become better at managing constant change:
Being adaptable hinges on staying abreast of changes in your industry or field. Do this by researching and asking questions, attending workshops and seminars, and taking on new roles and responsibilities through, e.g., stretch assignments.
Keep on learning
Personal development and continuous learning are key to handling change. Explore training in our courses in technology and innovation, or hone the important soft skills with our Power Skills Essentials and Power Skills for Team Building online short courses. Look for opportunities to learn from other people through networking or mentorship programmes.
See change and failure as opportunities
When faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem, reset and reframe your focus to find the positives in the situation. By taking a step back and viewing things less critically and more objectively, you’ll be able to overcome them more easily. And don’t be afraid to fail – learning from your mistakes is a great way to share newfound knowledge and test alternative solutions.
The synergy of problem-solving and adaptability
Adaptable employees are more likely to be observant, think creatively, experiment with new approaches and pivot when necessary. They also thrive in uncertainty and enjoy proactively seeking out challenges. These are key qualities needed to solve problems and find new solutions.
The combination of these power skills makes for more effective leadership, allowing you to guide others through change and keep your teams and employees focused and motivated through challenging periods. In fact, great leaders continuously seek out change, understanding that embracing disruption is essential to being innovative and finding novel solutions.
Future-proof your financial career with MasterStart
MasterStart has developed three key online short courses that arm you with the soft skills needed to secure your future in finance. Explore the Power Skills for Team Building and Power Skills Essentials courses, as well as our Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking course, which will ensure you grow and develop along with the fluid financial industry.