‘Service is the mantra’, ‘Customer is God’. We come across these slogans very often in service industries. And banking is one of the most crucial services for any nation. For decades, bankers have enjoyed a great legacy and immense respect in society by virtue of working for a bank. For most of them, banking is the dream job.
Today’s banking marketplace is no less than a fish market, with multiple bank branches on the same street or even side by side. It is certainly difficult to keep up the momentum while staying ahead of competition. Though a bank’s brand drives its market share most of the time, it is the front-end bankers who drive both the bank and its brand to the extremes of either popularity or the lack of it.
In any product offering, customers will run towards the rewards or add-on benefits apart from the default product. However, this may be a different situation in the service industry. Most of the times, the service industry will drive through relationship rather than rewards or add-on benefits. This fits for the banking industry also. So a banker should be able to drive the key relationship factor with the customer.
Gone are those days, where one person had a specified role with a specific set of skillsets or knowledge to perform certain tasks. Even after computers replaced physical ledgers, those skillsets or knowledge continued to be cutting edge and banks used to spend higher amounts on retaining such talents. But with cut-throat competition, availability of larger number of resources, lack of other opportunities and global economic conditions, most of the unemployed are attracted towards banking. Even banks have started spending larger amounts on internal training.
‘Banker’ may be a very generic term, however, to be more specific we have teller, authorizer, assistant manager, branch manager, sales manager etc. Irrespective of a person or roles performed by him/her, the ultimate target expected out of any employee or banker is ‘profitability’ and ‘accountability’.
Profitability is the main target for any financial organization, perhaps it is a monthly salary for an employee but for an organization or a bank, it is an amount of investment they are making on a resource to earn a profit. So ROI (Return on Investment) is the obvious expectation from all the resources. Like before, doing a clerical job or posting a few transactions on core banking will not be counted as ROI. Banks are expecting their bankers to cross-sell some product or service on a daily basis to keep up the momentum and increase profitability.
Accountability is the other default expectation from any banker in various aspects. For a bank, it is a must and should have skillset. A banker should be able to take the right decisions at the right time for all transactions by keeping regulatory aspects in mind. He/she should be responsible towards adhering to the internal and external guidelines, especially by keeping the interests of the organization in mind, as much as possible. From a customer’s point of view, when a banker is acting on his instructions, one should also be accountable for secrecy and security of both the customer’s personal data as well as his wealth.
Today’s banking is driven by three different factors and in fact all of them are three different dimensions with respect to each other. Those factors are ‘sales’, ‘service’ and ‘compliance’. A banker requires a skill set to handle all three different dimensions accurately without losing the interest of any one of the key stakeholders with respect to each dimension. For example, when you are service oriented and trying to help your customers in the best possible way, one should not forego the internal compliance or regulatory guidelines. Similarly, when one is cross selling, it should not dampen one’s service or compliance requirement.
Apart from all of this, a banker should be up to date about all the latest happenings, especially competitor insights and digital channel preferences. Especially in the longer run, when a mobile app is able to service all the key requirements, a banker should be able to handle this change and be able to guide customers to switch to a digital mode.
Also behavioral skills are very important for bankers, since they service at the front-end and are subject to various pressures related to service or sales or compliance. Another important skill which a banker should possess is to learn new things or new work. As competition increases, a banker needs to have multiple skillsets and knowledge in order to perform all of the above given tasks. Multiskilling and scaling up to the next level at any time is required. This will also help in keeping yourself away from the redundant jobs which in turn might be taken over by a robot sooner or later as part of automation. So in a single line, a banker is expected to do any job or any role at any point of time and be able to perform seamlessly across verticals. Ideally banks require a character and attitude similar to ‘Hanuman’ in ‘Ramayana’ to perform any task required for a bank to scale it up further.
So any future ready banker must possess the above skills apart from regular academics, most of these skillsets will be learned by him/her as part of the day to day work. So future bankers should be ready to ‘strain’ and then ‘gain’.