Cyber fears see IT investment hike

The financial services sector is to undergo a programme of rapid IT spending with protection against cyber-attack the key driver.

PwC UK and the CBI have issued new data which points to firms upping their spending as they look to build on the benefits that IT has delivered during COVID, but also enhance their systems’ protections.

The CBI/PwC Financial Services Survey 2021 showed that 70% of firms plan to invest more over the next 12 months. This is almost double in comparison to 2020 when only 48% of firms questioned said they planned to increase investment in this area.

According to the data, three quarters of financial services firms are looking to improve their ability to detect and respond to cyber breaches (76%). This is followed by 67% of banks, insurers and investment management firms planning on putting a greater focus on how they respond to new or emerging cyber threats as well as improving the way they report on and mitigate cyber security risks (66%).

Isabelle Jenkins, Leader of Financial Services at PwC UK, said: “What our survey shows is that the move to hybrid ways of working plus the rapid acceleration of digital transformation is causing financial services to take another look at their IT infrastructure.

“Despite the obvious benefits there are of course heightened risks, not least from hackers accessing confidential data both from customers but also from firms themselves.

“Though better prepared than most sectors, it’s clear that banks, insurers and investment managers are expecting an increase in cybercrime.

“This means that for FS firms, cyber security is no longer simply a bolt on but rather something that needs to be designed into the business and IT architecture, and our results show that businesses now understand the need to invest.”

Of the firms surveyed, 67% have operations outside of the UK. Of those that have outsourced operations, only 41% said that they are considering either completely or partially offshoring IT activities in the year ahead, with 37% stating that this was due to customer interaction and 32% stating that it was due to HR issues.

“The survey results also demonstrate that firms are in need of more tech knowledge with nearly nine out of ten of financial services businesses anticipating a greater need for skills in technological proficiency (89%), while 69% believe that people management and leadership skills will be needed,” the report said. “The firms questioned also stated that they plan on upskilling existing staff (87%) and will continue to look at greater agility in terms of ways of working (69%), to help equip the business for future skills needs. Finally, of the firms asked, almost all (89%) expect to automate standardised or repetitive tasks over the next five years, in response to growing digitisation and new technologies.”

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