Technological innovation will drive a radical transformation of the banking workforce. It will eliminate, evolve and create roles across the business. Employee’s capabilities must evolve as rapidly as technology itself. One banking job out of two will disappear over the next 10 years. Yes, some new jobs will be created, but those will be very different jobs with very different skill-sets than those required from bankers today. These will be jobs for creative designers and programmers, not for traders and compliance officers. We need broader community in shaping this new ecosystem and address the new reality.
Millennials [those reaching adulthood around the year 2000] want to buy in a different way; they have a degree of skepticism about financial services and a much more self-directed lifestyle. What we don’t see more is financial service companies trying to understand the ‘customer journey’ much more deeply. In order to serve the new generation consumers, we need new generation bankers, who will be different from bankers of today, in terms of personalities, backgrounds, and skill-sets. We need fundamental change in mind-set. The most important change is probably the way we train the next generation of talent. It is unacceptable that we let students graduate out of finance programs with no courses on FinTech. We need to continue teaching core courses like economics, corporate finance, or strategy; but we need to embed in the curriculum of every finance or business school program courses on design thinking, coding and user experience modeling. Because the banker of the future and those who will shape the future of this industry are not going to be the traditional bankers but rather designers, programmers and creative thinkers.
The financial services industry employs professionals with university degrees. This industry is country’s one of the largest employers. It’s also believed to be one of the highest paying. Yet we see banks not getting employees they need. Business schools, of course, do more than award degrees. They create networks of professionals and incubate the norms that bind them. They supply a culture.
Business education, therefore, serves as a pivotal support for finance. It supports and balances the future of financial services. But that does not mean its role is purely passive or reactive. Business education can – and should – help guide the qualitative changes that will occur in the financial services industry in the future. Business schools should frequently have thoughtful, independent discussion of the future of financial services industry. Such a discussion may include any number of questions. Here are a few examples. What values drive individuals – business school students and others – to migrate toward careers in the financial services sector? What norms should bind financial professionals to one another? What role do we want finance to play in society? The same questions should occupy my colleagues in the financial sector. Financial services institutions, specially the larger ones, must express a commitment to change their culture. As that happens, reform agendas at these institutions should soon reach back to recruiting. What are the qualities and skills that are needed in new recruits? What additional training do experienced employees need? How can business schools better supply what the changing industry demands?
I do not mean to suggest that business schools should teach students right from wrong. Your students are not blank slates. Still, the purpose of business school is to prepare students for the business world. How will your programs change to keep pace with changes in business? There are few learned skills that have particular relevance for financial services. These skills can be developed through experiential or situational learning. Students need to practice these skills. Perhaps first-year business students need their own laboratories to experiment in resolving difficult situations: conflicts in values, transitions in leadership, or interactions with regulators. Of course, experimental learning is not the only answer. Classroom training remains a central part of business education. But that training should be also dynamic. It must change in response to the needs of industry.
I cannot ask business schools to consider changing the way you prepare students for finance without proposing how the industry can help. So, what might we do together to contribute constructively to the future of the financial services sector? I believe there are three ways: First, by convening discussions. Second, by brokering opportunities for continuing education. Third, by promoting research. Employers and universities will have to work together on both short-term and long-term interventions to accommodate employers’ different hiring strategies and talent needs as well as universities’ challenges and gaps. This will also enable both parties to work together to produce industry-ready graduates. The professionals could create a forum for the ongoing discussion of the future of financial innovation. I see a need for bankers, regulators and educators to participate in the discussion – in the same room at the same time. How do we expect the industry to change? And, how can we best prepare students for those changes? After all, it’s in everyone’s interest to have the best-prepared business graduates available to staff our nation’s financial infrastructure.
Business schools are ideally situated to conduct excellent research, in tandem with the industry in the areas of behavior and decision-making in finance. Business schools may also take advantage of a natural strength that comes from their setting in a university. They may consider partnering with departments that study culture, or other cultures, for input on different considerations of ethics.
Banks, on the other hand, must build a culture that nurtures diversity of thought and ensure bankers have the new skills they need to succeed. If banks are to rebuild a viable industry, transforming their people is as important as transforming their products and processes. Regulatory changes may also create a need for new learning, especially in the areas of compliance, capital and liquidity management, and risk culture. If financial supervisors identify a need for new training, can business schools supply continuing education programs? That would be a valuable and well-compensated service. Business schools can develop programs responsive to an evolving need for training. Those programs would be tailored to new circumstances and evolving social responsibilities.
We need to explore more deeply basic questions about what we want from financial service providers, not just in terms of commodities or services, but also more deeply in terms of values and quality. These questions drive the debate over the “culture” of finance. Suffice it to say, too often financial services institutions ceased to function as a service, i.e., work for others. The industry largely lacked service norms and behavior. A stronger, better banking world won’t be made up of the best individuals but the best combination of diverse individuals. Banks can maximize performance and productivity by transforming the ways they recruit, progress employees through their careers, and foster collaboration between employees with different skill sets. In the future, HR functions will not support resource management but mobilize intelligence. In delivering this change, bank leaders must recognize that although success may not be achieved swiftly, re-engineering the workforce is potentially more important than next quarter’s revenue and an important aspect of his or her legacy.
Author: Firoz Khan
A Banker-turned-Entrepreneur, Firoz is the Co-Founder of Financial Forum Bangladesh and CEO of Finova Technologies, a FinTech firm.