Banking has always been an industry where the ability to differentiate against competitors has always been problematic as all financial services products are highly regulated, therefore, identical in how they operate. Strip back the bank-specific branding and UI/UX; current accounts, loans, mortgages, leverage finance, and credit cards are all identical. The implication for any bank is that perhaps its people, not the product, is the primary source of differentiation as “growth” is less about the product but more about how easy it is to consume the product/service for end customers. Hence, attracting and retaining talent becomes a vital aspect of the business strategy, not just a mechanism for executing it.
Talent management has always been essential to human resource management in the banking industry, especially in digital transformation, design thinking and using emerging technology to drive seamless customer experience. Still, now more than ever, there is a need to put the cart before the horse and aim to identify individuals that “are” the business strategy through how they think and see the world and can create multiple points of competitive differentiation. Banking talent management requires a systematic approach to attract, develop, retain, and engage employees to maximise their potential and achieve organisational goals.
Five core themes, therefore, need to form the backbone of any talent management strategy in banking:
1. Cognitively Diverse Talent Acquisition: Attracting and recruiting talented individuals with the necessary thinking skills and qualifications to perform well in banking jobs. This involves developing a comprehensive recruitment strategy, creating job descriptions, and establishing a robust recruitment process. These role descriptions also need to highlight the cognitive diversification required to not only execute the business strategy and achieve organisational goals but to drive differentiation
2. Cerebral Challenge & Personal Growth: Providing employees with opportunities to learn and develop new skills to meet the changing demands of the banking industry. This includes providing training programs, coaching, and mentoring to help employees enhance their skills and knowledge. This is becoming increasingly important as the world moves at such a pace; keeping informed and updated is vital for personal growth
3. Clear Performance Management Goals: Setting clear performance expectations, monitoring and evaluating employee performance with consistency, providing regular feedback, and recognising and rewarding outstanding performance. This also includes being transparent around how the appraisal process works, so it is fair and equitable to all that are evaluated under it
4. Balanced Succession Planning: Develop a plan for identifying and developing potential successors for critical organisational positions to ensure continuity and sustainability. Running a balanced strategy of hiring-in versus home-grown talent is also essential when considering the organisation’s evolutionary phase; sometimes, there is a need to stabilise, and sometimes a need to disrupt the status quo. If you are in a disruptive phase, one pitfall to avoid is bringing in talent and then not listening to it. “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” —Steve Jobs
5. Employee Engagement: Creating a positive work environment motivates employees to stay engaged and committed to the organisation. This includes developing employee recognition programs, promoting work-life balance, and fostering a culture of open communication. Part of engagement is also recognising that multiple approaches need to be deployed as one strategy does not work for all
In summary, these elements help with effective talent management in banking. Ensuring organisations attract, retain, and develop the right talent to drive business success and achieve long-term growth.