The Leader Magazine

SEP 2018

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Page 31 of 55

F E A T U R E A R T I C L E 32 September 2018 the leader Positioning the new financial workplace as an asset by Kay Sargent, Sharon Turner and Gordon Wright F inancial institutions and investment banks are used to weathering economic, regulatory and geopolitical shifts. Today, however, rapid changes in technology – including artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency and data analytics – are pressuring legacy players in unprecedented ways. Questions about how these changes will affect real estate and facilities are keeping members of the C-suite up at night. In the financial sector, lean operations and efficient space use are priorities across the portfolio, from trading floors to branch offices. But it's the needs of the people who inhabit this space – employees, customers and partners – that matter most. The space must work for them. HOK's WorkPlace team undertook a research initiative to study how the new financial workplace is evolving to respond to the industry-wide challenges with space that accommodates different work styles, regional influences, cultures and employee demographics. We hope that our report summarizing this research helps corporate real estate (CRE) and facilities groups engage their C-suite, HR, IT and other leaders in productive conversations about how to unlock the true potential of their space. Tech disruptors Unencumbered by legacy systems, processes or thinking, new and nontraditional market participants pose an enormous threat to business as usual. Certainly, there is a strong consumer trend toward using non- bank financial services providers. Hundreds of technology-based financial services (fintech) startups are engaged in lending, wealth management, personal finance, equity financing, consumer banking, international money transfers and insurance. Technologies that are already disrupting the financial services industry and driving business changes include cryptocurrency, biometrics, blockchain, cognitive computing, open banking and interactive teller machines. Startups and nontraditional financial services competitors including Google, Amazon and Alibaba have lower overhead and are more agile – and have much more experience with cloud computing, artificial intelligence and "big data" analytics. And many of these nontraditional banking companies have a built-in competitive advantage because they fall outside the purview of state and federal banking regulations. To compete, financial institutions must start to function more like tech companies. To make that transition, many large financial institutions are expanding their expertise – often by acquiring small companies. Folding these smaller, agile startups into their large organizations and corporate cultures is challenging. But to retain the most talented people from these companies and gain the most value from their acquisitions, financial companies must adapt their workplaces to best support them. The space for these blended companies has to address the entrepreneurial spirit of the employees and meet the needs of the blended workforce. Keeping up with new technologies, deciding when or if to adopt them, and anticipating their impact on people, places, products, processes and services demands the constant attention of the C-suite and their CRE groups. Whether it comes from outsourcing, partnering with more agile players, or investing in proprietary IT, the ability to make quick technological shifts will be crucial to the survival of traditional financial companies. The talent imperative Traditional financial institutions and investment banks are adapting to the swaying pendulum of economic, political and regulatory conditions.

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