Why Are Good Younger Bankers So Hard to Find?

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?

Longer-term:

  • 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!

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Creating Teams That Reflect Your Customer Base

“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.

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Holiday Humor from KSB Consulting – 2018

Thank you for your support throughout the year.  Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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Finding Employees with Mental Strength

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?

See article here.

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Top 10 LinkedIn Tips for Banking Professionals

As a recruiter for mid-senior level positions in the financial services industry, I spend a fair amount of time researching candidates and referral sources on LinkedIn. It is amazing to me how many banking professionals have out-of-date, inaccurate, or otherwise unprofessional LinkedIn profiles.

Granted, there has been a great deal of consolidation in banking over the past year, and getting one’s LinkedIn profile up-to-date may not seem like the most pressing issue but, in 2018, it is critical to have your social media presence working for you (and not against you).

Having your profile up-to-date is not only important for career progression. Remember, your clients are on LinkedIn. Your competitors are on LinkedIn. You need to be on LinkedIn with a professional, accurate profile.

Here are a few “tips” from someone who has seen it all.

  • At a minimum, make sure your current employer and title are accurate.
  • Provide your career progression – your last two-three roles would be optimal.
  • If you only have 5-25 connections, that tells us that you are not actively networking and using LinkedIn and we have little confidence in your profile information. It takes a minimum amount of effort to connect with people you know in the industry. Why not connect with your clients? Your colleagues? Just do it.
  • A brief summary of your most current role is important so that others can understand what you are really doing. If you have listed your title as “Underwriter,” viewers have no idea if that is Mortgage, CRE, Commercial, or other. Be sure to clarify your role.
  • Throw in a few bullet points that tell me what you’ve accomplished, not just what your duties/responsibilities are.
  • Regarding profile pictures – LinkedIn is a professional networking site. It is not the right place to post a photo of your family or an unprofessional looking candid shot. If a professional work photo is not easily accessible, at least take a photo that presents you at your professional best and is similar in size/proportion to a professional photo.
  • Ensure that you are providing good location information. If you live and work in Chapel Hill, for instance, and you want to continue working close to home, the location descriptor of Raleigh – Durham area may not be best for your profile. If you want to keep your profile location broader, then it’s a good idea to note specifically where you are located in your current role.
  • Keep your contact information updated. We see an even split between work emails and personal emails on LinkedIn profiles. People can’t see your contact information unless you have connected with them, so the risk of unsolicited communication is small. It’s OK if you’d prefer not to enter a phone number, but at a minimum, have a current email address in your profile.
  • Be sure to use first person rather than third person in your summaries. LinkedIn is intended to be interactive compared to a paper resume.
  • Most importantly, inject a little personality into your profile. We like to see your enthusiasm for what you do each day!
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Holiday Humor from KSB Consulting – 2017

Thank you for your support throughout the year.  Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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Time to clean up and speed up your recruitment process?

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.

Read article here.

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Advice for my College-Bound Son

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.

Read article here.

 

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Attracting Millennials To Your Bank’s Workforce

I have had many conversations with clients about millennials in the workforce.  The article below provides a good explanation of why millennials are important to the banking workforce and offers suggestions on how to attract and retain millennials.  Take a look!

Read article here.

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How To Negotiate The Salary You Deserve

The article below encourages candidates to understand and communicate their value to a prospective employer.  This is something I frequently discuss with candidates, and an important “lens” to use from the first meeting to the final negotiation.  Understanding the value that you offer a prospective employer cannot only give you more confidence in compensation negotiations, but is also a good measure of whether the job is truly a fit for both parties.  If you are having a hard time seeing how you can contribute significantly, it might not be the right situation.

See article here.

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