To manage the growing challenges of cyber threats, regulations, disruptors and other issues that will only grow more complex in the coming years, banks need a steady flow of innovative and well-trained talent.
Yet there are indications of a rupture in the pipeline that has supplied new employees to the industry for generations. What once inspired young adults about a career in banking is losing its luster. This is especially troublesome with baby boomers starting to retire.
A recent Deloitte study found banking continues to lose popularity among business students as a possible career choice. According to Deloitte, this is a worldwide phenomenon that is related to the decline in banking's reputation ever since the financial crisis and crisis-related bank layoffs. It is also a result of, among other things, a growing interest in computer and software services jobs.
Going up against such forces feels daunting. But I believe if we all play our part, we can make banking a more popular career choice, and in so doing, help secure the industry's future.
As institutions and individuals, we should take every opportunity to help restore banking's reputation. There is a good chance your bank does much for the community through sponsorships and charitable contributions. But does your institution effectively advertise the positive effect it is having on the community? Does it do enough to tell the story of how its day-to-day activities help build businesses and make families' dreams come true?
The Deloitte study found that many young people have a misperception about what it is that banks do. Too often, they associate banks with the headline-grabbing scandals, rather than the vital, community-building work that is the reality of 99.9% of banking. Take the time to talk to a local reporter about important projects your bank has financed in your community. Speak to a high school business class about what banks and bankers do. Restoring our reputation is good for recruiting as well as your customer base.
On a more direct level, inspire young people to choose banking and help them reach that career goal. Hire interns. If you already do, hire more. Become a mentor. If you don't have time for a mentor relationship, have lunch or coffee with a young person who is interested in banking.
The Risk Management Association is committed to addressing the talent gap by making both information and funds available to help usher the next generation of banking professionals into the industry.
We recently launched a free student membership that provides networking opportunities at our local chapters, online courses, a subscription to our RMA Journal, a credit essentials certificate and access to our RMA Xchange site where bankers discuss real-world problems and solutions. To raise awareness of the advantages of a banking career, we have created web and print materials that speak not only of the financial rewards, but of the various types of jobs in banking and how they appeal to a wide range of interests. We have also awarded $129,000 in RMA Foundation scholarships to 54 college students — in awards of at least $2,000 each — from the U.S. and Canada.
Mentoring, internship program or simply speaking to students about your job may not seem like high priorities for an executive. But I highly recommend that you put engagement with potential hires on your priority list. There is plenty of talent out there. It is our job to sell them on what's great about banking, and in turn secure a prosperous future for the industry.
Bill Githens is CEO of The Risk Management Association.