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Changing face of the banking workforce

by Jonathon Kent
Financial services have undergone dramatic change over the past decade and the pace of change only looks set to accelerate. Consumers have become used to doing their banking online and in recent years the arrival of mobile banking apps for smart phones has made our financial lives even more convenient.

But the growing role of technology has not worked out so well for those working in banks, as some roles are becoming obsolete. In Bermuda, jobs have been shed in recent years at all the three major retail banks, Butterfield, HSBC Bermuda and Clarien.

Butterfield is the only one of the three to publicly declare the size of its Bermuda workforce on a regular basis. At the end of 2008, Butterfield had 803 staff based on the island, according to the bank’s annual report. This number had fallen to 572 by the end of last year, according to a regulatory filing with the SEC, representing a decline of 29 per cent in the space of a decade.

This is an ongoing global trend. Job losses or reassignments will impact 1.3 million bank workers in the US alone by 2030, according to a report from market research firm IHS Markit in April this year. Roles the report identifies as being most at risk include customer-service reps, financial managers, and compliance and loan officers.

Big banks are already using artificial intelligence to mimic bank employees, automate processes and preempt problems, according to a 2018 report from Business Insider Intelligence.

So what type of jobs will bank employees be doing in the years to come?

The technical skills to work with cutting-edge technology will be helpful. Some existing employees are likely to be offered retraining to take on more digitally-focused roles. Skills like coding and app development are already in demand. Cybersecurity is a critical issue, so those with the knowhow to stay one step ahead of the hackers will also be highly valued by banks.

Data from LinkedIn Talent shows that at Goldman Sachs, the ten fastest-growing skills listed by employees are computer science-related, while at Bank of America, the first five fastest-growing skills are programming languages.

However, the experience of Bermuda banks may be a little different, given how much smaller the market is and how human relationships can count for more in a close-knit community.

Indeed, fintech adoption has been slower in Bermuda than in many places in the world, according to Chris Maiato, EY partner and leader of the firm’s Bermuda, Bahamas, BVI and Cayman Islands advisory practice.

“Bermuda is aligned with global trends in payments and online transfers, but we don’t have financial planning or insurance services — however, some are looking at that,” Mr Maiato told The Royal Gazette.

Websites like Rocket mortgages and LendingTree allow consumers to borrow money online without even speaking to another human. Almost anything purely transactional is digital already or is going to be soon.

While the desire for ever-increasing digital convenience is prevalent among younger consumers, some, especially older generations, may still prefer doing their business on a more personal level.

This will especially apply to more complex areas where they may be multiple options, such as investment advice, and in dealing with customers when the technology malfunctions. So it’s a safe bet that banks will still need some real people too, for the time being at least.

This article was originally featured in the TOP TEN 2019 edition of the RG Business Magazine.

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