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Attracting Millennials to Banking

Banks Need New Talent, Is Your Bank Getting It's Share?


Did you know that Millennials are anyone between the ages of 18 and 34? They have been in the workforce for the past 15 years, and make up over 54% of today’s workforce as they move into key leadership roles. Despite this, a large number of employers are still trying to figure out how to reinvent culture models and workplace environments to appeal to this generation of employees.

This young workforce will continue to grow in numbers and influence as the baby boomer population retires. In the near future and at an accelerating pace, more workplaces will undergo an even greater shift in culture.  Banking is no exception to this transition.  But, the question is whether the banking industry is ahead or behind of the shift.

Unfortunately, talented earlier career professionals in banking have expressed that the banking environment is not what they were expecting or promised. This lack of enthusiasm in banking is not just due to the lack of work-life balance, but the culture represented as well.

What Happened?

To prior generations, banking was an attractive field. Training programs were put on high priority for incoming bankers and career paths were fairly clear. Many entry level bankers were taught valuable skills. They were exposed to many different businesses, and were able to interact with clients. Because of the strong training, skill building, and overall business education, compensation was not a major focus for youthful bankers to enter the industry.

Challenges For Banks

Well, so much has changed for many reasons and today, millennials enter the workforce with a different mindset than their predecessors. This introduces significant obstacles for banks to work with. Some challenges include:

  • When interviewed, many junior and entry level bankers expressed frustrations with their employers - stating that there was a small chance of advancement into positions they were interested in and a lack of opportunity to take on more meaningful work.
  • Significantly fewer MBA graduates from top schools sought positions with Wall Street banks – fewer than 4% of Harvard Business School graduates took an interest in investment banking.
  • Out of the 46 who graduated in the five percent “top in class at Harvard’s Business School,” only one took an interest in investment banking.
  • When asked, 70% of millennials believe that comfortability and culture matter most in the workplace and 60% stated they want a clear path for advancement in banks.

Okay, Some Ideas to Make Banks Attractive

A more flexible dress code: the traditional suit and tie attire is too restrictive. Allowing enough flexibility for employees to be fashionable, stylish and attractive, yet still professional in their own way is just one approach that will appeal to younger generations. 

Consider Chase Bank, who recently revamped their dress code for current bankers. Chase no longer requires their employees to wear formal attire. A new business casual dress code gives employees the freedom to “dress for that client.”

A more flexible schedule: millennials appreciate downtime even more so than getting paid a higher salary. Many prefer a flexible schedule that contributes to a work-life balance than a “rise and grind” mindset.

This flexibility may not be attainable for all positions but offering remote work options or flexible hours allows employees to work when it’s best for them and their clients. The ability to work on their or their clients’ times, brings autonomy to the employee.   

Feedback: millennials gravitate towards transparency and frequent performance feedback. Receiving feedback enables a plan of growth which will guide them down a career path that will influence future businesses.

General Electric, for example, broke away from annual reviews and is progressing towards exchanging feedback through mobile apps that give feedback instantly and more frequently.

This strategy is in response to a recent survey where 71% of workers expressed that they want feedback on performance as soon as possible instead of annually.

Better technology: many banks that stick with an outdated business model refuse to update the businesses’ technology. Contrary to this mindset, Fintech has offered some of the most innovative updates by making banking easier for those who know how to use the technology. To recruit a tech-savvy and tech-dependent generation, updating banking culture with current technology is a must.

Future of Banking Talent Can Be Bright

Millennials possess the talent that pushes businesses in directions that break away from tradition. They propel the culture that banks seek through technology and creativity.

For banks to capitalize on the benefits millennials bring to the table, they need to attract talent to meet the ever changing demands of new customers. The discussion needs to be changed from “banking is boring,” to “banking is attractive.”

It is more important than ever to ask the question, “Is your bank attractive to incoming talent?”

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