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The Tech Talent Gap in Banking

7 months ago by Luigi Muscat Filletti
A professional working in an office

The race for banks to compete with other financial institutions is becoming more of a challenge in the digital age. That being said, the digital age has been given its name for a reason, yet it seems that banks have been slow adopters in their quest to digital transformation. Financial institutions which have invested heavily on tech to generate more user-centric strategies for completing financial tasks are leading in the financial market, and with Cryptocurrency on its way to Maltese shores, along with the introduction of Blockchain technology being infused into Fintech, banks also face a challenge in their pursuit for talent within the sphere of Tech.

'As technology integrates itself further into our daily lives, there is no option but to adapt to these digital changes, yet to succeed, an organisation must raise the bar and embrace digital innovation and lead by example.'

It is no doubt that professionals in Tech are shaping the way banking and finance firms are operating in their industry, from internal processes to user experience. To get ahead, banks must focus their efforts on recruiting top talent in Tech in order to streamline digital processes, from the collection and recording of user data, to the design and development of mobile banking apps which provide an excellent user experience. Banking must become more straightforward and do away with lengthy processes as much as possible in order to appeal to younger generations leading a faster-paced lifestyle. As technology integrates itself further into our daily lives, there is no option but to adapt to these digital changes, yet to succeed, an organisation must raise the bar and embrace digital innovation and lead by example.

Recruitment Challenges for Banks

The demand for talent in Tech is being seen to outweigh the supply, and with companies from other industries such as iGaming, Fintech, Crypto and creative industries also seeking to attract top talent in Tech, banks face another obstacle. Individuals with ambitions for careers in Technology, with roles such as Software and Fintech Development and Engineering, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and UX Design might be more attracted to the appealing company cultures and employee benefits of those other mentioned industries, rather than that of banking. What is more is that these industries are already leading in their digital approaches, with huge sets of data at their fingertips to be interpreted and utilised to create meaningful and valuable digital services for users. It can be assumed therefore, that recent and up-and-coming graduates in Tech related fields would be more inclined to fill roles in companies who are already well-established digitally. As mentioned by Castille’s CEO, Matthew Camilleri during the 2018 Malta DELTA Summit, it is a must for organisations to remain on the cutting edge of Tech in order to attract and retain top talent in Tech, this factor at times being considered more important than financial benefits, by many candidates.

'Following in the footsteps of Fintech organisations, banks must work to attract talent in Tech by communicating a vision which foresees excellent results through digital innovation.'

Further to this, the career path for a given candidate would be more clear, tasks perceived to be more interesting, salary more rewarding, and with the addition of great company culture and employee perks, it would be no surprise at all that Millennials favour to work in industries other than banking. The bitter reality for banks is that they are not renowned for being innovators in technology, and this causes more harm, now internally. With other industries embracing and succeeding through technological advancements, professionals in Tech already working in the banking sector might feel that they are missing out from greater success for a career in their field, and therefore feel enticed to seek employment for a company in one of these industries, thus leaving the banking sector.

The Importance of a Strong Employer Brand

In order to gain respect and trust from candidates as well as current employees in  the fields of Tech, banks must start from the ground up. Endorsing a great employer brand is one way of doing so, yet it must be said that it is more about the career offering rather than the employee benefits which attracts candidates.

'Having a strong employer brand also benefits the company internally, as such goals and ambitions should make current employees feel that their presence at the bank is highly valued, as they are needed to guide the bank to digital success.'

Following in the footsteps of Fintech organisations, banks must work to attract talent in Tech by communicating a vision which foresees excellent results through digital innovation. Thus, the necessity to recruit top talent in Tech becomes vital for such success, therefore providing a win-win type situation through which the employee’s career success is a reflection of the bank’s success, and vice versa. Candidates want to be aware of the career opportunities in Tech within Banking, and want to feel that they are a part of the bigger picture at the organisation that they will be joining. The bank’s vision must therefore be well conveyed and communicated to candidates - projects, plans and goals should be laid out to display the motivation for growth - from designing and developing a great mobile banking app, coming up with useful and valuable features for financial tasks, integrating Blockchain technology, or through internal processes relevant to Cloud Computing and Big Data, banks must do their part to show that they are serious about embracing technology for digital relevance and success.

Having a strong employer brand also benefits the company internally, as such goals and ambitions should make current employees feel that their presence at the bank is highly valued, as they are needed to guide the bank to digital success. This practice is much more related to stagey than it is related to HR, as both candidates and current employees would want to see solid plans and projected results, see how they will be giving and receiving value through the bank and how their role will benefit the bank’s users for the long term.

Farming instead of Hunting

Another solution for banks when it comes to securing talent in Tech would be that of cultivating their talent internally. As already mentioned, competing with top companies such as those in iGaming and Fintech in the war for talent is already a challenge in itself. Alternatively, banks can also nurture the growth of their current employees by providing them with the right training programs to possess the required skills and sharpen their approach. It may be true that in order to truly excel, banks would need to recruit professionals with expertise in certain areas of Tech. However, by providing employees with the chance for them to gain skills in business intelligence, data analytics and other relevant areas, a bank will be diversifying their workforce. Continuous learning for professionals is highly encouraged in order for them to keep up to date with trending topics and points of interest in their industry and beyond.

'Another solution for banks when it comes to securing talent in Tech would be that of cultivating their talent internally.'

Additionally, individuals with little experience in technology, yet with plenty of experience in other areas such as business development and strategy can be trained too, thus further diversifying the recruitment process. Although not a direct alternative to recruiting top professionals in Tech, this initiative to increase industry knowledge at the workplace contributes to achieving a workforce which is well-informed and proactive in their approach to success.

To Conclude

As banks face various challenges in the digital age, it is essential for them to strategise a strong employer brand, take initiative in nurturing their employees and display a desire to embrace technology as their main tool to create a more valuable user experience for their customers.