In the context of digital transformation, the roles of your employees, the way they work and how they work together are changing. These changes are frequently met with rejection. In this blog post, managers of fiduciaries will find tips on how they can also accompany sceptics in digital transformation.

Digitalisation continues to cause mixed feelings in the fiduciary industry. While many fiduciary companies want to harness the potential of digitalisation and are already in the process of transformation, a not insignificant proportion of Swiss fiduciary companies perceive the advance of digitalisation as a threat. Questions arise such as “Is software taking lucrative business areas away from us?” or “Could new technologies even completely replace us as fiduciaries in a few years?.”

One thing in advance: The fear that digitalisation will make fiduciaries obsolete is unfounded. However, according to a Study by Treuhand Suisse and Accounto, even with the advent of new business models, process optimisations, changing client expectations and disruptive technologies, fiduciary companies remain the central point of contact for all business and financial concerns of the companies they serve. By outsourcing routine activities and focusing more on what creates recognisable added value for your clients, digitalisation opens up new opportunities for your fiduciary to not only maintain its position in the market but to improve it.

Most people need time to accept change

Digital transformation is accompanied by major changes. New business models, processes, client expectations and technologies are changing the tasks of fiduciaries. Instead of handling accounting tasks with a high potential for automation, the focus is increasingly on expanding differentiating features, developing customised advisory services and deepening client relationships. This shift in work does not go down well with everyone: Managers of fiduciary companies should therefore be prepared before and during the digital transformation that employees will react negatively to the innovations.

“But we have always done it this way, why is this suddenly not good enough anymore?”: One of the most common barriers to transformation and innovation is that employees do not initially buy-in. They feel that the need for change makes their past work – and thus their expertise – worth less. After this rejection phase, according to change management models, many people experience a feeling of shock or anger. The majority of employees now recognise the need for transformation, but they perceive the change as a threat. In this phase, you as a leader need to show your employees what their role will be during and after the digital transformation.

Reading Tip: In this blog post, you will find a checklist to prepare for digital transformation.

Clear communication is crucial for the success of transformations

The shock and anger phase is followed by acceptance: The opportunities and possibilities of change are moving into the centre. It is about exploring advantages and disadvantages. Communicate clearly what you expect from the digital transformation for your fiduciary. Also, address possible challenges and develop a plan together with your team on how you will deal with them. Be open to suggestions. Take the fears and concerns of your employees seriously. The last change management phase is characterised by commitment. The employees are now behind the change and actively participate in the transformation process. However, since people do not always behave exactly according to models, it may be that individual employees skip phases. This in itself is not a problem – except when team members do not seem to reach the engagement stage. What can you do as a manager to accompany and support skeptics in digital transformation?

Here you will find tips on how to get change-resistant employees on board for the digital transformation:

  • Communicate vision: Show what the digital transformation will change for your fiduciary company and the individual employees. What does the new business model look like? What will you focus on in the coming months and years? To what extent does the way of working and cooperation in your team change?
  • Express appreciation: Especially during the anger and shock phase, you should reassure your employees that they will continue to play an important role in your fiduciary after the digital transformation. There are still fiduciaries who, when they hear the word digitalisation, think that they will be replaced by software in the future. Allay these concerns and explain how digital transformation is shifting the work in your fiduciary. How will you continue to rely on the skills and experience of your employees in the future? What is there more time for after outsourcing routine activities to fiduciary software? How can your team members build on their strengths?
  • Show appreciation for the will to change: Define milestones in the transformation process and reward steps that bring your team closer to the new vision. In the case of the sceptics, you should also acknowledge small steps. Which milestones are crucial for your fiduciary in the digital transformation? When would you like to reach these milestones? How do you reward important steps on the way to digital transformation?
  • Leave room for error: Innovations bring not only advantages but also challenges. Allow enough time for the transformation process. What helps your team to overcome problems? Which part of the transformation process is prone to error? How can you avoid repeating mistakes?
  • Use opinion leaders: Depending on the team dynamics, it can be helpful to use employees who are already in the engagement phase as opinion leaders. Who in your team can support change-resistant employees? What should this support look like? What do opinion leaders need in order to be successful?

If the above tips do not help skeptics to join in the digital transformation, it may make sense to call in external support in the form of transformation coaches.

Extra Tip: In a transformation workshop, you can learn and practise change management and communication techniques. The Accounto Transformation Workshop on Thursday, 15 June 2023, will help you address the challenges of digital transformation for your fiduciary – such as change-resistant employees. Instead of dry theory lectures, you can expect practice-related inputs and analyses as well as personal coaching.