The Global Thinker: Molding Millennials in the Finance Industry

John Clements Consultants President and CEO Carol Dominguez was one of the featured speakers at the 8th National Finance Summit organized by the Junior Confederation of Finance Associations (JCFAP) last January 7, 2017 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Carol’s presentation, entitled The Global Thinker: Molding Millennials in the Finance Industry, was an inspirational and insightful look at the lifestyle differences between earlier generations and millennials, how the world of work is changing, and the promising job opportunities that await new graduates in the finance industry.

Generational differences

“I was very much like all of you almost 33 years ago — very idealistic, full of hope and promise,” Carol told the 5,500 finance students in the audience. “Sometimes I think that I’m a millennial trapped in a baby boomer’s body.”

She shared observations on several differences between her and today’s generation. During the martial law era, there was a ban on importation of goods and very few malls: Shoemart, Rustan’s and Ali Mall. Today, thanks to globalization, you can buy everything, even online with sites such as Zalora and Lazada.

If you wanted to watch a movie back then, you had to go to the theater and endure long lines for tickets; nowadays you can stream and download movies on Netflix. Before, you had to buy cassette tapes to record music from the radio, and later on had to carry around CDs in the car or during trips; today you can subscribe to Spotify and listen to your favorite music on your smartphone anytime. At school, you had to spend a lot of time at the library for research; now you have Google, Wikipedia, and ‘copy & paste’.

During Carol’s second year at business school, she wanted to work in New York. She wrote to 200 companies and mailed all those letters using stamps, and if they wanted to interview her, she had to fly to their office. Today you can apply via email and have video interviews on Skype.

“And in 1983, a year before I graduated, Ninoy Aquino was shot and the Philippine economy went south,” Carol recalled. “Companies were on freeze hire so there were absolutely no jobs in the market. Today, the Philippines posted a GDP growth of 6.3% during the last quarter of 2016, making it the fastest growing economy in Asia and one of the fastest in the world. As a result, there are more job opportunities for you.”

The fastest growing region in the world

The Philippines has evolved from the Sick Man of Asia to a high growth economy as part of ASEAN, the fastest-growing region in the world. The ASEAN market is huge, with a $2.3T economy. “And with the ASEAN integration, this opportunity will allow you to work anywhere in ASEAN,” Carol said.

One of the many job opportunities for millennials today can be found in the finance industry. In 2015, 30% of 800,000 graduates were business majors. And out of the 260K jobs new graduates or “freshers” were hired into, 55% of 150K were hired by the BPO industry. Jobs include finance roles in shared services such as accounts payable, financial analysis and reporting, risk and compliance, banking operations, asset management, auditing, inventory control, and many more.

“In addition, we live in a VUCA world where command and control do not work,” Carol said. “There is a need for more agile minds and critical thinking.” While the past called for leaders who persevered, were technically skilled and action oriented, the present needs leaders who possess skills such as critical thinking, strategically agile minds, managing vision and purpose, innovation management, motivating and developing others, and managing conflict.

Welcome to the new world of work

Carol told the students that they need to be aware of the new world of work, where man-machine interactions will be increasingly seamless, and where there will become a need for elite workers with the skills to interface with machines. But they need to be wary of challenges as well, such as routine, repetitive work with fairly consistent patterns eventually being done by machines. An Oxford study shows that up to 47% of US jobs in 2010 will be eliminated in 10–20 years and technology research firm Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 3 million workers globally will be supervised by a “roboboss”.

“All of us will have to up-skill and reinvent ourselves,” advised Carol. Some of the future work skills required are digital savvy, novel and adoptive thinking, social intelligence and collaboration, cross cultural competency, virtual collaboration, and data-driven and quick decision making skills.

The Fintech opportunity

In the area of finance, Financial Technology or Fintech is a huge opportunity to look into. Fintech is a new market integrating finance and technology that dramatically disrupts sectors such as peer-to-peer lending, investing, payments, cyber security, credit scoring, digital currency, exchanges, insurance, and digital lending.

Today, there are 2 billion unbanked people in the world and almost half of these are in Asia. Leaving billions of people out of mainstream finance is economically costly. “If you want to really make an impact, Fintech can help these people,” Carol said.

In closing, Carol gave a powerful reminder to the next generation. “We need quality people. You are the leaders that will take the Philippines into the next phase of advancement. You are the leaders of the Philippines tomorrow.”