Three quarters (73%) of senior financial services industry decision-makers predict a big jump in demand for board-level chief technology officers (CTOs) in the sector over the next five years as the challenge to find senior talent to leverage disruptive technology increases. Intertrust, a global leader in providing expert administrative services to clients operating and investing in the international business environment, surveyed over 500 executives covering the asset management, corporate, capital markets and private wealth sectors to identify the impact that disruptive technology is having on jobs and skills in the sector.

40% of those surveyed, believe that by 2023 most firms in their sector will have hired CTOs with a mandate to drive strategic change, particularly by harnessing the benefits of technologies such as AI, blockchain and robotics.  A further third (33%) expect that a minority of firms will have done so.

The study highlighted the growing challenges faced by organisations exposed to a technology skills gap; almost a third (29%) of respondents admitted that just keeping up to date with the latest technology innovations was a challenge. The biggest skills shortages are in Artificial Intelligence (AI), regtech and compliance (both 39%) followed by data analytics (35%) and cyber security (34%).

Despite their predictions, the study revealed a lack of urgency to secure senior level talent; only a quarter (27%) of decision-makers said their firm is currently recruiting for a CTO-level role and upskilling existing staff to capitalise on emerging technologies. A further 29% said their firm doesn’t currently recognise the need to recruit technology leaders or invest in new training.  16% of respondents said that their organisations were finding it challenging to recruit tech talent, highlighting the difficulties in attracting candidates with the appropriate skill sets.

Stephanie Miller, chief executive officer of Intertrust, said, “There is little doubt that we will see more CTOs emerge within the financial services sector with a clear mandate to drive transformational change.  With many firms struggling to keep up with the latest developments in emerging technologies let alone seek a competitive advantage, the question will increasingly become when, rather than whether, to make new senior hires to devise the right strategy and implementation programme.

“Firms delaying their investment in appointing new CTOs with influence at the top table, or not doing so at all, risk losing out on the best candidates and falling behind their peers. Given the competition for technology leaders from other sectors outside financial services as well as their own, the necessary skills, particularly in high-demand areas such as AI, regtech and compliance are not always in ready supply.  With the gulf in performance between digital leaders and laggards growing rapidly, firms can’t afford to be too complacent about their place in the technology revolution.”