All eyes are on Australia’s biggest employers, who are rationalising their recruitment needs amid the uncertainty created by COVID-19. In particular, Australia’s banks, who’ve played a key role in minimising the economic damage for Australia over the past few months, are now facing crucial hiring decisions of their own to ensure a quick and effective recovery. The banks currently employ about 450,000 people in Australia, and have traditionally been a major contributor to full-time administration and support services employment across the country. However, the emergence of current employment trends, accelerated by COVID-19, is forcing banks to reassess their employment mix and evolve their recruitment strategy to accommodate various stakeholders and drive organisational success. This article identifies the top five current employment trends of 2020 within the banking sector, as the industry begins to emerge from the shadow of COVID-19.
1. High Demand for digital specialists
COVID-19 has accelerated technological investment and innovation by forcing banks to quickly transition towards digital offerings to continue serving customers. Banks are increasingly moving away from physical branches in favour of digital products and services to conserve costs and meet changing consumer expectations. In the last three months alone, the big four banks have closed approximately 400 branches. This online push has resulted in strong demand for digital specialists across IT areas such as security, cloud and infrastructure. NAB has demonstrated this push by growth in its cloud engineers’ team, which has grown from 7 to 1,300 in just three years. Moving forward, banks will continue to invest in technology systems that optimise customer experience and boost their internal capabilities, creating numerous job opportunities for CX and UX designers. With digital specialists already in short supply across Australia, banks are likely to use their superior financial positions to attract top digital talent and gain competitive advantage in the digital banking space.
2. Data is increasingly driving decision-making
Data is increasingly the mechanism underlying most decisions for financial institutions. Banks rely on data for executive strategic decision-making, operational decisions, product and service decisions and even recruitment. Data collection, data analysis and data usage have become core competencies all banks require to be successful in the marketplace. Consequently, this has triggered huge investment in data management systems across most banking functions, creating huge demand for data specialists. Data specialists in demand include business analysts, data analysts, credit analysts, data translators and data scientists, which you’ll now find across most banking departments at all levels of seniority. ANZ recently demonstrated this by promoting its head of data and automation to its executive leadership team. Actions like this highlight the value banks are placing on data, which is set to drive demand for data specialists over the next several years.
3. Compliance and security concerns intensifying
Over a year ago, the Royal Hayne Commissions revealed systemic issues across the big banks that initiated a spike in demand for compliance and security talent. Even now, banks remain firmly in the spotlight of financial regulators, as Australia’s financial regulatory environment continues to tighten. To ensure that banks avoid further reputational damage with their customers, demand for talent with experience in risk management, compliance, legal, fraud and money laundering has never been greater. Furthermore, as banks adopt more complex IT systems, which carry huge amounts of sensitive financial data, cyber-security is a growing concern for institutions driving demand for IT security talent. These concerns around regulation and security are set to increase post-COVID, creating new opportunities for relevant professionals.
4. Increased use of contingent talent
Employment within the banking sector has traditionally been dominated by permanent workers. However, as banks move into a more fast-paced online environment, and deal with the economic consequences of COVID-19, the need for improved internal efficiencies and flexibility in their employment mix has never been more important. This has already resulted in a stronger appetite for contingent talent. Banks are increasingly outsourcing non-core functions, particularly in areas such as technology and data. Contingent staff enable banks to access highly qualified and flexible specialised professionals capable of filling short-term employment gaps and resolving business problems as they arise. In the current economic environment, these capabilities are essential to combat the unpredictable challenges of COVID-19 and uncertainty around hiring needs of an organisation. As banks are increasingly exposed to the additional value contractors can provide, this transition away from permanent workers is expected to increase.
5. The traditional banking role is changing
The nature of banking roles as a whole is changing across retail, commercial and institutional banking. Banks are moving away from low-skilled permanent roles that can be automated by technology in favour of highly skilled talent who possess a unique combination of hard and soft skills. More emphasis is being placed on providing customers with proactive financial advice supported by high-level data analysis. Branches that remain open are pivoting services towards more complex financial advice rendering traditional admin and teller roles obsolete. Banks are looking for talent with unique combinations of strong technical expertise (e.g. compliance, data, digital, etc.) and soft skills (e.g. interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving etc.) necessary to optimise stakeholder engagement. This has resulted in the emergence of new roles within the industry like customer journey experts. ING Bank currently employs almost 30 customer journey experts, a position that didn’t exist two years ago. In alignment with broader employment trends, banking roles are expected to become more hybridised, digital-based, data-driven and customer-focused to accommodate various stakeholders and drive company success.
These five banking employment trends will shape recruitment activity across the finance sector over the next few years. As the industry emerges from COVID-19, banks will be looking for exceptional talent with strong capabilities in digital, data and security/compliance to support their transition into highly competitive and dynamic digital environments. They will seek out a more diverse employment mix by reducing reliance on permanent workers in favour of flexible contingent talent. Finally, they will change the nature of traditional banking roles by seeking out more hybridised, data driven and customer-focused talent to deliver organisational success. These employment trends will influence the hiring decisions of banks moving forward, which will ultimately determine the rate and effectiveness of their recovery from COVID-19.
Author: Mark Southwood
Executive Business Analyst