employment opportunities for job seekers knowledgeable about on-line commerce and financial services.
Bank hiring for Internet-related jobs is "a big growth area for the future and right now,'' said John Wilson, managing director of financial services at Korn/Ferry International, the world's largest executive recruiting firm. "Larger banks have figured out they will be left behind unless they get with the program quickly,'' said the San Francisco-based headhunter.
Bank One Corp. of Chicago, the nation's fifth-largest banking company, started an Internet-only bank, WingspanBank.com, in June. It has more than 100 employees and plans to hire 300 more by the middle of next year, said Carlo Frappolli, head of human resources at the Wilmington, Del. -based on-line bank.
He said Wingspan looks for workers in three major categories. First are technological people: Web site and software development experts. Wingspan also seeks marketers and sales people. These workers must strike deals with insurers, for example, so that the bank's customers can choose within 20 seconds among five options for life insurance, none of which is necessarily a Bank One product. "Someone has to go to Kemper and Aetna to strike deals,'' Mr. Frappolli said.
Finally, Wingspan needs customer service representatives people on the phone, on-line, and in the back office. "These are the people that make the bank work,'' Mr. Frappolli said.
Wingspan isn't the only bank conducting an on-line hiring spree. PNC Bank Corp. of Pittsburgh said last week that it is adding about 50 workers in on-line banking. This division has grown to cover more than 10% of PNC customers, from less than 4% in 1997. PNC's on-line banking service includes 15-second car and home equity loan approvals.
Attracting people for these jobs isn't easy. "The motivation of people coming from Web-centric companies is often to retire early,'' said Chris Nadherny, an Internet recruiting specialist at SpencerStuart, an executive search firm in Chicago. As a result, headhunters say, large banks must offer compensation packages of at least $500,000 to attract top Internet executives.
There also are cultural issues. People who work in smaller technology concerns "are interested in a less hierarchical structure that makes decisions quickly,'' Mr. Nadherny said. "Banks are more wedded to their traditions and can find it difficult to find someone with the right fit. You have to make sure you're bringing someone in who has the interpersonal skills to work in a large organization.''
Mr. Frappolli said Wingspan has a strong pitch to lure new people. "We're ahead of the competition in redefining how banking is done and financial services are offered,'' he said. "And we're aggressive in our compensation packages.''
Wingspan can also point to the success of Bank One's First USA credit card division, the largest provider of credit cards on the Internet, Mr. Frappolli said. "We've got an exciting picture to paint.''
Net.Bank Inc., an Internet bank based in Alpharetta, Ga., has found that its small size sells. "A lot of people like to work with a start-up where they can contribute more than in a large company,'' said D.R. Grimes, chief executive officer of the 60-employee bank.
The Bank One unit is attracting about two-thirds of its new employees from consumer goods producers and retailers with on-line services, Mr. Frappolli said. The rest are coming from financial services companies.