It is undeniable that the retail banking landscape is evolving at a rapid pace. Not only are technological advancements such as automated services and remote banking disrupting the sector, but customers’ expectations of their online experiences are growing, as they eagerly seek a tailored, personalised experience. Behind the scenes, this is having a huge impact on the kind of talent organisations are looking to attract; the desired candidate skillset has developed profoundly over the years. So what are retail banks doing to attract, retain, and engage the top digital professionals so intrinsic to their success?

In a drive to increase efficiencies – while simultaneously meeting consumers’ ever-expanding expectations – the digital transformation of retail banking means that there is now unprecedented demand for digital talent with strong experience in customer service. This is a huge shift from years gone by, whereby the majority of new hires’ work would be predominantly customer-focused. Now, the emphasis lies in developing a coherent and visible online experience – albeit with the consumer in mind. And it is increasingly becoming the responsibility of the top digital talent to ensure that the bank is not falling behind its competitors and losing business. For example, according to Telco 2.0 research, 65% of customers start a transaction or research on a smartphone, with 61% continuing on a laptop, and 4% using a tablet to finish the process. As this multi-device approach to browsing is so popular, it is important that everything appearing online from the company website to its social media sites, online attraction and careers pages be clear, simple to navigate, and keep the visitor engaged. Failure to do so would not only lose the bank its customer, but also future employees who interpret the impractical interfaces of the sites to be a reflection of the bank’s processes.

For this reason, many big players in the financial sector are currently investing in predictive analytics tools to refine the candidate experience even further. These programmes predominantly function by analysing thousands of social feeds in order to pre-empt which members of staff might be thinking of leaving so that recruiters can plan for potential vacancies. Not only this, but the information also helps with staff retention strategies, workforce planning and talent pooling of competitors’ employees – hugely beneficial in such a competitive arena. But in order for these to be effective, not only must the programmes themselves be set up by the top digital talent, but the banks are finding an acute skills gap – they now have the need for analysts who can interpret digital information.

So what are the challenges retail banks are facing? Hiring from a new, digital market does mean that they now need to compete with sector heavyweights such as eBay and Amazon to secure the talent required to thrive. In order to do this, there are two main priorities to keep in mind: it is becoming increasingly important that the candidate experience is positive and immersive, and it is essential that the organisation creates a compelling Employer Value Proposition (EVP) to attract and retain its top players. And let’s not forget that the success or failure of an EVP can have a wider impact on the organisation’s overall brand. Research from my own firm Alexander Mann Solutions, global talent acquisition and management provider, has revealed that a mammoth 80% of candidates who experience bad interviews are less likely to buy a product or service from the hiring organisation. And, in the age of social media, if they choose to shout about it, there’s almost no limit to the number of potential applicants that could be influenced by this account – which could potentially be devastating to future hiring outcomes. Not only does a good candidate experience eliminate the danger of this happening, but it also accommodates for pipelining future talent as individuals who may not have succeeded in the interview process will still be keen to work there when applicable future vacancies arise.


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However, in order to position themselves above other attractive areas for digital professionals – such as the trendy and often lucrative start-up scene – a truly compelling EVP is needed. This is partly down to the fact that there is a vast gulf between the highly regulated banking setting and the contemporary, forward-thinking culture of a digital firm – and retail banks are confronted with the challenge of overcoming this. Importantly, the EVP should be as adaptive as hiring strategies to reflect the changing needs of individuals working for the organisation, but should aim to communicate what a candidate should expect from the business they are applying to work with. Usually, these include details of employee benefits, development and training, and career progression. Having a strong EVP could be the difference between losing out on potential hires to competitors, and bringing key players on board. And with competition so fierce, why risk losing out?

Lynne Gardner, Global Client Partner, Retail Banking & Insurance at talent acquisition and management specialist, Alexander Mann Solutions