About Brian Soper
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For the past 10 years, KSB Consulting has been poking fun at the industry with a bit of holiday humor. This year’s cartoon pokes fun at rebranding after a merger. If you would like to see a retrospective of our cartoons for the last 10 years, each one reflective of unique circumstances in our industry, please click here for our 30 second slideshow.
For 10 years, KSB Consulting has been poking fun at the industry with a bit of holiday humor. As seen in this retrospective of our cartoons, each one is reflective of the unique circumstances in our industry at the time it was created. Each slide will display for 3 seconds before shifting to the next slide. Enjoy!
I’d say that I have some version of this conversation with my clients at least once a week. The reality is that it is getting harder and harder to meet the demand for strong bankers who have a well-rounded skillset of credit, sales, and communication, and a strong book of business. Let’s examine why, and explore some ideas on what to do about the issue.
Financial Services organizations, particularly in banking, lost popularity during the financial crisis of 2008 and the challenging economic years that followed. Many newly qualified college graduates were frankly not interested in pursuing careers in the industry. Fast forward to current, and there are fewer young, up and coming bankers in the market. These candidates have been increasingly in demand as the economy has improved and banks have continued to expand.
Additionally, many bankers under 40 (ish) were NOT given the opportunity to participate in formal training programs as many who came before them, and have been forced to ‘piece meal’ their training during their careers. I hear regularly from clients that today’s younger bankers do not have the same training (particularly credit) as their predecessors.
What can we do about this issue? In my opinion, there are both short-term and long-term strategies to mitigate this issue. In the short-term, banks need good talent to drive and support growth. In the long term, however, the industry must adjust to attract, train and retain good people.
Let’s start with short-term:
- Differentiate your bank and your culture. This is not just for your clients and prospects, but also for recruitment of new employees. Benefits, flexibility of schedule, training, stability, work environment and compensation are all factors to consider.
- Cultivate relationships with bankers you want to hire. Keep a list. Take them to lunch. Get to know the people and their motivators.
- Be prepared when opportunity knocks. This is not really an environment where you can budget to add a banker in Q3 and start recruiting in July. The best policy is to keep an open door for good people and, if possible, be ready when the right person reaches that tipping point.
Some other near-term options that could work depending on your circumstances:
- Go Out-of-Market: An option that may work for some banks is to go out of market for talent. Particularly if you are in a market like Asheville, Charleston, or Greenville, SC which may be appealing to Gen Z or Millennials. While you do not get the market knowledge, you could potentially get someone who has the skillset and is motivated to move and become ingrained in a particular community. This is a more difficult option if you need someone to build a book from ‘zero’ with limited ramp time.
- Other Industries: Attributes of a good banker include attention to detail, the ability to build relationships, discipline, problem solving, and good communication. What other types of industries/jobs require these skills and is there one that might yield some strong candidates?
- Train and Retain: Many larger banks already have strong recruiting programs in place for MBA or Masters in Finance/Accounting students at universities with well-reputed business schools. If you don’t have a strong training program in place for new or early-career bankers, consider developing (and marketing) a program that is designed to elevate young, talented bankers to the next level. Leverage this for current employees and external candidates. I know it can be expensive, but consider that again the cost of not having the right people on your team. The reality is that your best bankers in the long run might be those you train and develop, and the pipeline for external options is not necessarily going to grow in the next several years. Bottom line, be prepared to invest in the long-term future of your bank, not just for next year’s production.
To sum it up, you should really have both short and long-term strategies to attack this challenge. If industry players can all pull together on this issue, perhaps we fix can it over the next 5-10 years, ensuring the next set of strong bankers for our clients!
“Decades of filling senior roles with executives from inside the industry have dulled the skills necessary to attract, assess and successfully assimilate talent from wide-ranging industries and experiences.” Robert Voth and Jane Bird, Co-Authors
As an executive recruiter, my role is to put the most qualified set of candidates in front of my clients. Clients need people who will fit into their culture and perform at a high level in a fairly short period of time. Those are understandable goals, and not unique to the banking industry.
However, as I read this article, it forced me to reflect on how well we are doing as an industry on the bigger picture of creating teams internally that are more reflective of the communities we serve. As noted in the article, there is data to support the idea that companies whose leadership teams reflect their customer base significantly outperform peer companies.
A question to consider: Is a focus on short-term results and immediate productivity overriding your ability to hire more strategically for the future?
I understand that there is not a lot of ‘cushion’ at smaller banks for long ramp times, and we need to hire people who have the skills to hit the ground running in a given position. However, I’d challenge ALL OF US to work together and look for those situations where the company can flex, bring in someone who might not check all the boxes on required skills, but can bring an important perspective by way of experience, race, and/or gender.
As an industry, we need to think more broadly for the future of our organizations as we continue to work day-to-day to meet our current objectives.
We all want to hire employees with mental toughness and grit. But what does true mental strength look like? The attached article provides a great description of mental strength including the abilities to delay gratification, to keep fighting when you feel defeated, to make tough calls, to keep emotions in check, and to maintain your resolve even when others don’t believe in your vision. Do your key employees demonstrate this toughness?
The article below has some good advice. Perhaps now is the time to step back and evaluate how effectively you are responding to top talent (or are you missing some altogether?). Many very good HR people I know are overwhelmed to the point where it is very difficult for them (and their companies) to be highly responsive.
The article below was written by the Founder of Redbox, and is a note to his son as the son begins his first corporate internship. Given all my interactions with both candidates and employers, much of the advice rang true and could have a big impact on a student’s ability to gain the most from an internship.
Maybe the article impacted me more this week than it would have at another time because I just dropped my son off at college. I have been giving him advice his whole life and was still imparting wisdom up until the moment I left him to fly home. I saw this article shortly after arriving at home and immediately sent it to my son. I hope you will enjoy it and share it with an intern or two.