Mastering Mission-Critical Projects in Financial Services

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Mastering Mission-Critical Projects in Financial Services

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As financial services executives and boards grapple with complex issues like digital customer experience, risk management, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity, many firms are finding it difficult to manage data-intensive projects integral to their success and survival. What can financial services firms do to improve their chances of success in these critical areas?

Research Overview

Successfully executing mission-critical projects is increasingly challenging. Whether it’s the urgent remediation of a regulatory issue or a broader digital transformation initiative, financial services firms must be able to adapt and respond quickly to changes. Having capable talent with the right skills to staff projects is crucial to achieving your goals.ave made it challenging, if not impossible, to execute them.

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Scope of Research:

RGP recently surveyed senior executives at 404 companies with $1 billion or more in revenue, headquartered throughout North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

404 Companies
101 Financial Services
$ 1000000000 Annual Revenue
Per Company

Financial services firms are struggling to meet key project goals, with 40% saying it has become more difficult since March of 2020.

Talent and flexibility heavily influence success

Rapid change is now the norm.
Rigid internal work processes, combined with a shortage of key talent, have made it difficult for financial services firms to achieve critical project goals.

  • Only 15% of those we surveyed achieved all or most of their key objectives.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 said less than half of their projects achieved their goals.

Why is success so elusive? Respondents told us that inadequate talent and complex workforce dynamics are key contributors. Project complexity and lack of adequate project leadership also made it more difficult to achieve project goals:

  • Hybrid project teams that work both remotely and on site (79%).
  • Dynamic project teams with both employees and outsiders (77%)
  • Lack of capable talent in key project roles (73%)
  • Abrupt changes in project goals during execution (62%)

Organizationally diverse and remote teams are creating complex dynamics for project execution in financial services.

Source: RGP
Figure 1

Key Insight:

Although dynamic project teams help bring together the talent needed to drive project success, they also present coordination challenges.

73% of financial services leaders said a lack of capable talent in key project roles made executing critical projects more difficult.

Outside consultants are expected to comprise 48% of the average project execution team by 2024.

Key Insight:

Managing team members from multiple firms is one of the biggest challenges, but it’s also an important success factor. Financial services firms that are best at achieving all of their mission-critical projects have a much higher percentage of outsiders on their project teams. In other words, it may not be easy — but it’s worth it.

Executives see the benefit of more dynamic teams, but managing the complexity is imperative.

To benefit from the advantages of a dynamic workforce — including a mix of in-house employees, freelancers, contractors, and external business partners — financial services firms must coordinate multiple moving pieces like an orchestra, with strong project managers acting as the conductor.

Many financial professionals staffed on projects lack formal project management training, so helping them acquire these skills can be very helpful.

Financial services firms increasingly understand that strong project management requires specialized expertise and dedicated team members to ensure successful execution. Firms are also upgrading the skills employees need to execute projects successfully:

  • Project assessment and planning (50%)
  • Getting team members to quickly embrace major changes (40%)
  • Knowing how to use advanced project management tools (39%)

Rethink Your Talent Strategy



of financial services executives believe they need to overhaul how they attract talent to better accommodate teams comprising large numbers of talented outsiders.

Staffing projects with the most skilled and experienced talent available – regardless of where they come from – is a bold change that requires a new level of openness, agility, collaboration, and digitization.

Additional Mission-Critical Research by Industry and Region

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