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Have You Mastered Recruiting In Banking?

Adrian Dixon

May 14, 2019

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Is recruiting in banking something that you’ve thought about at your organization?

Like almost every industry these days, banking is changing a great deal and becoming more technologically-focused. The disruptive arm of the financial services industry is called — logically — “fintech,” and it’s already making a pretty big dent. Millennials and Gen Z, broadly-speaking, are either quick to change banks or abandoning banks altogether, which will consistently adjust the broader industry in the next 10-15 years.

As the industry evolves, though, what about recruiting within the industry? What do you need to know there?

Some broader ideas about recruiting for the banking industry

The good thing for recruiters focusing on banking is that finding people — the sourcing part of the equation — is usually easier than in other industries. Most banking roles are truly white-collar, and thus potential candidates are easy to locate on LinkedIn or, honestly, on the website of their current branch, often with contact information sitting right there. The locating part isn’t as hard as in other industries.

Where it becomes harder is convincing them to switch from their bank/branch to you. Obviously this conversation is driven largely by salary, but having other readily-available perks including flexible work, unlimited PTO, bonus potential, dogs at the bank (yay!) and more can be helpful.

One of the other challenging aspects of recruiting for banking is that the industry is heavily-regulated, which means you need some way to identify ethical soft skills. Regardless of your exact position in a banking company, you’ll be connected to the idea of dealing with people’s hard-earned money. As a recruiter, you need to figure out if this potential candidate has a degree of honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, and — especially if the role is consumer-facing — knows how to build relationships through trust. Predominantly these ideas come out through conversation and recommenders. There are soft skill assessments you can try as well.

In the United States, banking turnover is around a 10-year high, and banking is also struggling — like a lot of financial services — with the impending Baby Boomer retirement issue. Banking is a space where turnover really can impact you, because again, people’s hard-earned money means they want a degree of trust and the same faces where they bank. When they can move away from technology, i.e. bigger financial advice or loans, they want familiarity with the people who are giving them the advice. Turnover cuts directly into that. The costs of hiring and retention are often massive, especially in more-regulated industries where you need to scan for different elements of a candidate.

The added challenge for recruiters, then, is trying to find people who might stay 5-10 years in this role. Problem is: as millennials increasingly become the staff of banks and branches, turnover isn’t getting any better.

With these challenges, how can technology help?

We actually analyzed the hiring process at 35 North American banks recently, and found most banks are falling behind on “ease of application.” Ease of application, a qualitative factor, refers to the length of application, repetition and additional requirements. It was so bad that five of the banks had a resume parsing element – but asked for the resume upload after the rest of the application. So, after the candidate copied and pasted each line of their resume into the boxes, the system asked them to upload their entire resume. This is quite frustrating for the candidate and drastically extends the length of the application. Applications with this workflow experience a very high percentage of drop-offs.

The first way technology can help, then: it can simplify the process of applying. Ask for what you need and get the application started that way. Do not over-complicate it, even though it’s a regulated industry. To commence the process, you need X-amount of information. Get the rest further down the hiring funnel.

Banking time to hire in our research was about 24.7 days on average, which is too long. Top-tier candidates are often off the market in 10 days. 30% of the applications we saw sat open for over 100 days.

Other helpful tech applications:

The 35,000-foot view

Recruiting for banking is not easy. There’s a lot of turnover, and there’s a lot of regulation. It can be done, though, with a combination of understanding needs and improved technology. What you’re looking to achieve is a simplified but compliant process aimed at getting the best talent possible.

What other questions do you have about recruiting for banking roles?