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How effective talent management could disrupt the retail banking sector

Lynne Gardner, Global Client Partner, Retail Banking & Insurance – Alexander Mann Solutions

 The last decade has witnessed a rapid evolution of the retail banking landscape. And with constant change now the order of the day, banks will need to continually innovate to ensure they keep their finger on the pulse of both consumer and professional attraction.

The recent news that imminent ringfencing regulations will not be relaxed has caused perceptible shifts in the sector and had a profound impact on attitudes towards talent management. Andrew Bailey, a deputy governor of the Bank of England, commented: “Making our firms more resilient has been at the forefront of our post-crisis agenda. Today represents an important step forward in achieving this aim. We have provided clarity for affected banks on how we will implement ringfencing and this will enable firms to take substantial steps forward in their preparations for structural reform.” At this stage, where driving efficiency of processes and effective talent acquisition practices is crucial to the smooth reformation of organisations’ internal structures, innovative talent management could make a profound difference to success and viability.

There has always been fluidity in the skills profiles of top retail banking talent. As retail banks embraced digital technologies, more and more professionals were sought to optimise customer interfaces and online experiences, and it is likely that by 2020, other skills will top the agenda. For example, the cashier of today works in an acutely transactional environment, managing customer requests and perhaps presenting the advantages of one – or more – features or products as a method of customer retention. Yet in the future, it is likely there will be a universal shift to digital banking, which would mean that branch staff would be required to be relationship-driven personal bankers. Although transactions would take place digitally, the employee’s remit will now be to advise, educate and provide real-time, personalised solutions. Their method of interaction may also be different, with more onus being placed on phone and video-link communications via a store or mobile device. And this could realistically be on the horizon; Citibank, for example, is experimenting both with video-based cashiers and ATM-based loan applications in Asia. So they, for instance, would likely be sourcing personal bankers with excellent customer service and analytical skills and the ability to tailor solutions and build strong, long-term customer relationships remotely.

But how will banks attract these professionals? Gone are the days when strong branding would be enough to draw talent. Now banks seeking professionals with strong digital backgrounds – or skills valuable to other sectors – have to compete with tech industry giants as well as the start-up community in markets they are relatively unfamiliar with. And so without a strong employer value proposition (EVP), they may not stand a chance – a highly regulated banking setting may not appeal when compared with a fresh, unconventional digital firm. Not only this, but successful talent management initiatives understand that, as virtually 100% of candidates are now required to apply online to ensure consistency, exposure to the brand is happening much earlier, and for much longer, than ever before. In fact, in excess of 300,000 candidates applied for roles in three of the UK’s top five retail banks in 2014 – each of whom is themselves a retail banking customer. Their experiences will have been reflected back into the external market as they chose whether to refer others, share experiences through social media or promote the organisation. Even after their experiences of organisations, potential employees are still able to compare – and shout about – any oversights highlighted by marketing messages from competition within the sector.

In order to secure the top talent, retail banks have increasingly employed innovative measures, such as predictive analytics tools. Marketwatch, the provider of business news, analysis, and stock market data, revealed that US employees actively seek to change jobs ever 4.6 years. These departures can have a profound impact on retail banks, and so technology which predicts who is likely to relocate via analysing social feed activity can provide very meaningful information. Because of these insights, there is a huge amount of data which can be incorporated into retention strategies, talent pooling and strategic workforce planning – inclusions which may set a bank head and shoulders above its competition.

In order to bypass the difficulties faced by incoming ringfencing regulations and a changing emphasis on the top talent’s skills, it is more important than ever before for retail banks to implement effective talent management processes. Locating potential future vacancies as they become available – or, indeed, as members of staff leave – and knowledge of which skillsets will be beneficial, can place any organisation ahead of its competitors. The imminent restructuring of branches in the face of digitalisation will call for banks to seek talent in previously unchartered markets – a challenge in itself. Yet a simple, effective talent management strategy can manage all of these difficulties, and is likely to shape the success of individual banks’ futures. So why get left behind?

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