Meeting the Needs of Gen Z: The New Approach to Financial Services Training

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Meeting the Needs of Gen Z: The New Approach to Financial Services Training

In the constantly evolving financial services landscape, staying ahead of the curve is more than an aspiration; it’s the most enduring component of a firm’s success. Attracting top talent is vital to this endeavor, and organizations that want to attract the best and the brightest are now focused on Generation Z. This generation is poised to make a significant impact in the workplace and, by 2025, will constitute 30% of the global workforce.  

Born into a digital era characterized by rapid technological advancements, this cohort brings a unique perspective to the workplace, with expectations that differ significantly from past generations. Financial institutions must reevaluate their training methodologies to effectively attract, engage, and retain these employees. 

Traditional approaches to training within the financial services sector have often centered around structured programs, hierarchical mentorship models, and classroom-style learning. While these methods served the industry well in the past, they no longer align with the preferences and learning styles of Gen Z.

Key Highlights

  • Financial services firms must adapt training methods to meet the unique needs and preferences of Generation Z, who constitute 30% of the global workforce by 2025. This cohort values digital learning, personalization, hands-on experience, and continuous development.
  • The evolution of digital tools and online learning platforms has transformed training delivery. Adaptive learning technologies, AI-driven educational tools, and multimedia content offer personalized, flexible, and interactive learning experiences that align with Gen Z’s preferences.
  • Effective training contributes to streamlined onboarding, agility, and innovation, making employees better equipped to adapt to changes in the industry. This not only enhances productivity but also attracts and retains new talent, ultimately supporting company success.

Training and the Gen Z Workforce

The rise of Gen Z is already having a profound impact on the workplace. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Generation Z employees will comprise one-third of the world’s population by 2025.

Born between 1997 and 2010, they are the most diverse, educated, and tech-savvy generation in history. They look at work in a significantly different way from past generations and demand better pay, work-life balance, and growth opportunities, as well as personal fulfilment. According to a 2023 Statista survey, 44% of Gen Z respondents agreed that they put their own needs above those of their employers, while 40% link their self-worth directly to their performance at work. 

They also want more control over their career paths. Importantly, they tend to choose companies that reflect their values and invest in their health and personal development. Statista found that 47% of Gen Z employees wanted training in mental health.  

Learning is vitally important to Gen Z employees, with LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report noting that 76% of Gen Z employees believe that learning is the key to a successful career. and they emphasize leadership, teamwork, and management training when looking at job opportunities. According to WEF, they also value mentorship programs, which underscores a desire for community and camaraderie as a part of the learning process. 

The Defining Traits of Gen Z

There are six important characteristics that define Gen Z and underpin the need to tailor financial services training to attract and retain these employees. 

A Preference for Digital Learning: Gen Z employees are the first digital natives. They’ve grown up in the digital world and access information online. 

Short Attention Spans: Given their constant exposure to digital media and information overload, Gen Z has limited tolerance for extended training sessions.

Hands-on Experience: Unlike previous generations, Gen Z values hands-on experience and practical skills over theoretical knowledge. They prefer to learn by doing rather than through passive observation. 

Personalization: Gen Z employees expect personalized learning experiences tailored to their individual needs and preferences. One-size-fits-all training is unlikely to resonate. They also value personal feedback highly. 

Social and Collaborative Learning: Gen Z employees are highly social and collaborative, often preferring peer-to-peer learning over instructor-led methods. They enjoy sharing knowledge and learning from their peers’ experiences.

Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion: While the most diverse generation, Gen Z continues to place a high value on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Training programs should reflect this by incorporating diverse perspectives, cultural sensitivity training, and inclusive language to create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment.

Technology Shapes the Way Gen Z Employees Learn and Consume Information

Since Gen Z has grown up with easy access to a vast universe of information through the internet, search engines, and online databases, technology has transformed the way they learn and consume information. Education has become more accessible, personalized, and interconnected, and consequently, Gen Z are more self-directed in their approach to learning.  

Moreover, the way Gen Z chooses to learn was also heavily impacted by the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain modalities are particularly well suited to Gen Z learners.

Mobile Learning

The widespread use of smartphones has made learning mobile and convenient. Gen Z can access educational content anytime, anywhere, creating a continuous learning mindset.

Personalized Learning Paths

Adaptive learning technologies and AI-driven educational tools enable personalized learning experiences. Gen Z prefers to receive tailored content based on their learning styles, preferences, and performance, promoting a more individualized educational experience. 

Digital Learning Platforms

The rise of digital learning platforms, online courses, and educational apps has allowed Gen Z to pursue education outside of traditional classrooms. They can learn at their own pace, access resources globally, and engage in interactive learning experiences. 

Digital Learning Platforms

Social and Collaborative Learning

Technology facilitates collaborative learning. Gen Z is accustomed to using tools like Google Docs, video conferencing, and online forums to collaborate on projects, share ideas, and learn from peers regardless of geographic location. 


Traditional text-based learning has been complemented and, in many cases, replaced by multimedia content. Gen Z prefers learning through videos, podcasts, and interactive simulations, which can enhance comprehension and retention. 

Social Media

Social media platforms play a significant role in how Gen Z consumes information. They often turn to platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube for educational content. These platforms offer bite-sized, visually appealing content that aligns with their preferences for quick and engaging information. 

The Evolution of Training over the Past 20 Years

Over the past two decades, the financial services landscape has undergone a profound transformation, driven by advancements in technology and changing workplace dynamics as well as by an increasing emphasis on continuous learning. Consequently, the industry has witnessed significant changes in the way training is conceptualized, delivered, and integrated into the fabric of financial services firms. The advent of Gen Z has served to accelerate the pace of change.

Technology-Driven Training

In the early 2000s, banking training relied primarily on traditional classroom settings, manuals, and mentorship. As technology advanced, digital tools and simulations became more widely used, making it possible to offer more interactive and dynamic training experiences and enabling employees to grasp complex concepts in a simulated, risk-free environment.  

The advancement in financial technology has also had a profound influence on the training landscape, and technology-driven solutions now enable banks to incorporate realistic market simulations, gamification, and virtual reality experiences into training, all of which appeal to the Gen Z desire for hands-on experience. Learners benefit from more immersive and practical training opportunities to enhance their technical and people skills. 

The Shift Toward Digital and Online Learning

The proliferation of online learning platforms has been a game changer, allowing employees to access training materials and learn at their own pace. Given Gen Z’s overarching desire to acquire information digitally, advances in online learning will continue. 

The globalized nature of finance has created a distributed workforce, and the vast increase in remote work following the pandemic has led to even greater workforce distribution, with employees dispersed around the world in different time zones. The flexibility of online learning is critical to standardizing knowledge and skills.

Advancements in data-driven analytics have also allowed for continuous improvement in training programs. Firms can gather data on employee performance, engagement, and completion rates, ensuring that training is both effective and relevant. 

Training Has Become More Learner-Centric 

Banks have realized, particularly with the emphasis on creating a diverse workforce, that employees learn differently. Learner-centric approaches tailor training programs to fit individual needs, leading to greater individual success.

Today’s programs can involve personalized learning paths, adaptive assessments, and the integration of feedback loops to ensure that every employee receives the type of training that aligns with their individual learning styles and career paths. This is essential for Gen Z employees.

Beyond Financial Analysis and Accounting

While technical proficiency remains paramount in any banking career, there has been an increasing emphasis on the importance of people skills as a component of success. Topics such as communication, collaboration, and leadership are now common in the financial services curriculum.

In addition, most banks have expanded training programs to include modules on compliance, ethics, and risk management. Given the regulatory complexity of the industry and the risks posed by non-compliance or unethical behavior, employees must be prepared to navigate the regulatory landscape. 

The Shift Toward a Learning Culture

The shift toward a learning culture in the financial services industry reflects a broader business trend. Ongoing skills development and knowledge enhancement are essential for both individual and organizational growth and are vital for firms to remain competitive. 

Leadership plays a crucial role in creating and nurturing a learning culture, as leaders must actively support and encourage employees to generate buy-in. Management can manifest support in many ways, by providing resources, allocating time for learning, and recognizing and rewarding employees for learning and development achievements.  

Peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing are also integral parts of a learning culture. Organizations should encourage employees to share insights and best practices, creating a collaborative environment in which employees are able to learn from each other’s experiences. 

To ensure that the learning culture is effective, organizations should engage in regular discussions to monitor the learning process. They must take measures to assess the impact of learning initiatives, identify areas for improvement, and align learning goals with organizational objectives. Regular feedback loops help refine learning strategies and ensure that they are consistent with both organizational and industry demands. 

Creating a Continuous Learning Culture

In any organization, a continuous learning culture values and promotes ongoing learning and development. Employees are encouraged to make acquiring new skills, knowledge, and competencies a permanent part of their professional life. Companies with such a culture typically provide resources, support, and opportunities for learning, enabling employees to remain proficient in their roles and evolve in concert with changes in the business landscape.

Ongoing and bite-sized modules and methods can play an important role in supporting continuous learning as a part of an overall learning and development strategy. By combining microlearning, just-in-time learning, and data-driven training, companies can create a dynamic and adaptive learning culture that is aligned with business and employee needs.


This method breaks down training content into small and digestible modules or units. Each module focuses on one specific learning objective and may use formats such as videos, quizzes, infographics, or interactive simulations. As a best practice, firms should make microlearning modules available on multiple devices. With modules that are both short and conveniently available on a variety of devices, employees can pursue learning objectives during short periods of downtime or on-the-go. 

Just-in-Time Learning

This approach to learning makes needs-related training available when and how it is needed by the learner. A firm can identify specific skills or knowledge that employees may need on the job and develop easily accessible resources that offer efficient solutions. Mobile-friendly platforms or apps can offer instant access to information. Ease of access and convenience make it simple for employees to seek information as they need it and promote a proactive approach to learning. 

Data-Driven Training

This type of training involves the collection and analysis of data on employee performance, learning preferences, and training efficacy. This type of data can be used to identify gaps in knowledge and skills and tailor training accordingly. Analytics can track progress, completion rates, and the impact of training on job performance. Using feedback mechanisms can help continuously refine and improve training content. 

Feedback Mechanisms

As part of continuous learning, firms can establish mechanisms for collecting feedback on the effectiveness of various types of training modalities and use the feedback to adjust and improve training methods. Feedback is vital to continuous improvement and encourages an atmosphere of open communication in which employees feel comfortable expressing their learning needs and preferences. 

The Impact of Online Video Conferencing Tools on L&D 

Given the pervasiveness of platforms such as Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams in today’s business landscape, it’s hard to believe that only four years ago, few people outside of the tech industry were familiar with these types of communication and collaboration platforms.

While the pandemic launched a meteoric rise in video conferencing, the platforms’ ability to bring people together to work and collaborate would have ensured their eventual ubiquity. While online video conferencing has had a profound impact on the way we work, it has also become an invaluable training tool.

These Platforms Offer a Multitude of Advantages

Some of the key advantages of using online video conferencing as a training tool include:


These tools provide a platform for remote training that is accessible to any employee with an internet connection, regardless of their physical location. Participants can join training sessions from devices including computers, tablets, and smartphones.


These platforms are easily scalable, accommodating small or large groups. They can accommodate many attendees, making them suitable for organizations with diverse training needs. 

A Cost-Effective Solution

As virtual solutions, these platforms eliminate the need for employees to gather in person, vastly reducing expenses for travel and accommodation, as well as venues to conduct training. They also reduce the need for physical training materials and can significantly reduce overall training and infrastructure costs. 


With online video conferencing, scheduling becomes much more flexible, and participants can choose convenient times based on their availability. The platforms support both synchronous and asynchronous learning, catering to different learning preferences. Training sessions can also be recorded for future reference, allowing learners to revisit sessions and enhance their understanding and retention. 

Interactivity and Engagement

These platforms also provide various interactive features, such as chat, Q&A, and breakout rooms, all of which promote engagement among participants. Live discussions and interactive elements enhance the overall learning experience. 

Polls and Quizzes

Many of these platforms allow trainers to conduct polls and quizzes during sessions, gathering real-time feedback and assessing participant understanding. Polls and quizzes also add an interactive element to training, promoting active participation. 

Screen and Document Sharing

Trainers can share their screens to present slides, documents, or demonstrations and show calculations in real time. Participants can also share their screens, facilitating collaborative learning and problem-solving. 

Consistency in Delivery

Online conferencing ensures consistency in training delivery, regardless of the location or number of participants. Trainers can follow standardized formats and content, maintaining a cohesive learning experience. 

Easy Incorporation of Guest Speakers

These platforms also make it easy to include guest speakers or subject matter experts from different locations. Since they can join from their desks, they may be more likely to participate and can enhance training sessions with their expertise and diverse perspectives. 

Online Video Conferencing Isn’t Without Disadvantages

While these tools have proven to be revolutionary business and training tools, they are not without disadvantages. Security can be a concern, as can reliability. Those with weak internet service or other technical difficulties may find it challenging to maintain a connection, and training can be disrupted. 

Given the ubiquity of these platforms and their heavy use during the pandemic, there is also a level of user fatigue that can weaken engagement. It’s also more difficult for instructors to monitor student engagement, understanding, and attentiveness.  However, many of these disadvantages can be mitigated with proper planning. 

E-Learning versus In-Person Instruction


In the context of financial services, each method offers specific advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the optimal method is dependent on organizational goals. 

Consider e-Learning When Cost Effectiveness and Flexibility are Key

One of the greatest advantages of e-learning is flexibility. Employees can access training materials at their own pace and from anywhere with an internet connection. This method is also extremely cost-effective, as it eliminates the need for travel, accommodation, and physical materials. It also makes it possible to train many employees simultaneously. Materials are also easily customized to meet specific needs, while interactive modules, quizzes, and multimedia elements can enhance engagement.

E-learning is also a highly scalable method, making it suitable for organizations with many employees. Online platforms also provide robust tracking and reporting tools, allowing administrators to monitor progress, assess performance, and identify areas for improvement. Importantly, e-learning is highly suited to the needs and preferences of Gen Z employees.

In-Person Learning Can Enhance Bonding and Offer Networking Opportunities

In the financial services industry, particularly in investment banking, building personal relationships is one of the foundations of success. In-person training, particularly when conducted for incoming analysts and associates, can help build personal bonds between employees that will foster success throughout their careers. Some banks invest in bringing new analysts and associates from around the globe to their US or European headquarters just to create this type of networking opportunity and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing.

In-person training is also valuable in that it allows a deeper level of interaction between instructors and students. Instructors can give immediate feedback and address questions and concerns on the spot, leading to a more dynamic learning experience. There are also certain aspects of financial services that may require more hands-on training. Finally, in-person instruction is conducted within a structured environment, which can benefit employees who thrive in a more traditional classroom setting.  

A Hybrid Approach Can Offer the Best of Both Worlds

Many organizations opt for a hybrid approach to learning, combining elements of both e-learning and in-person instruction to leverage the benefits of both while managing expenses. The complexity of content plays a large role in the choice of instructional method, and highly complex topics may be better addressed with personalized, in-person guidance. Ultimately, the choice of training method depends on specific training objectives, budget, the type of learners, and the mix of organizational resources. 

Optimized Training Benefits a Company in Many Ways

Taking the optimal approach to learning and development provides a wealth of benefits to a company. A robust, comprehensive, and tailored approach to training contributes to success in a variety of ways, from the obvious to the subtle. 

As mentioned earlier in the text, choosing the right type of training can reduce training costs. However, the right training methods can also have benefits that impact the bottom line in a variety of ways. For example, streamlining onboarding processes ensures that new employees quickly adapt to culture, policies, and procedures. Well-designed training programs can accelerate the integration of new hires and make them productive more rapidly. 

When employees are well-trained and have access to continuous learning, they can also adapt more quickly to changes in the industry, new technologies, and new regulations. Highly trained, well-informed employees are agile and able to adapt to evolving business requirements. They are not only more efficient but also have a mindset that leads to a culture of improvement and innovation. 

Optimizing employee training is consistent with the industry’s dynamic nature. It enhances cost-effectiveness, accelerates onboarding, and makes employees nimble and quick to adapt. Significantly, optimized training methods make it possible to attract and retain the newest generation of employees and ultimately contribute to the company’s overall success. 

The Takeaway

In the financial services industry, knowledge is power, and adaptability is paramount. Firms need agile and highly skilled employees, adept in their areas of specialization but also equipped with the people skills that are so vital to success. Training and professional development opportunities are also essential in attracting the newest generation of employees, Generation Z, whose priorities differ markedly from those of previous generations.

The importance of robust training opportunities tailored to accommodate the learning styles and preferences of employees can’t be overstated. Training is the linchpin that transforms challenges into opportunities and propels financial institutions toward a future of sustained growth and prosperity. 

Additional Resources

Creating a Learning Culture

Financial Services Training Re-Imagined

High-Impact Learning & Development Programs

Selecting the Best Online Training Platform for Your Finance Team

See all team development resources

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