A Question for the 21st century Banker: … am I in the right profession? (2)

Dear readers, thanks for the great feedback from last week’s article. Indeed, many bankers seem to have asked themselves this same question in recent years. Although the corporate workplace is filled with stress, anxiety, deadlines, pressure, success and failure, the highest individual and organisational performers are able to cope with the fast-changing environment to succeed and achieve high-performing results.

Bankers and Family Life

Let me quote an abstract from a research publication by Charles Gyan and Michael Baffoe in ‘Stress and Coping Strategies among Bankers in Tema Metropolis’, dated November 2014.

“The nature of bankers’ work and family life may most often expose them to high levels of stress, which has the potential of affecting their productive capacity. This study therefore sought to find out the stress and coping strategies of bankers in Tema. This study adopted a mixed method to investigate the nature of stress and the coping strategies adopted by bankers in the Tema metropolis.

“Data for the study were collected from the field using interview schedules and questionnaires. Findings from the study show the existence of a high level of stress among the bankers. The sources of stress among the bankers range from upbringing of their children, their families, to the nature of their work. In terms of coping strategies for stress, it was revealed that the respondents indulge in religious activities, exercise, share with friends, use medicinal therapies, counselling and social gathering.

“The need for appropriate mechanisms to be put in place by management of the banks to address the counselling needs of employees is indicated by the findings. Also, organising seminars for employees to help broaden their minds on stress-coping strategies – as well as to keep them abreast with the changing trend of issues, is very essential to help reduce their stress levels.”

clusion

Occupational stress has increasingly occupied the attention of both practitioners and researchers alike, especially

in developed countries. The indications of stress  among  bankers  are  apparent  in  Ghana but not well-defined by

evidence.  Bankers  are  not  super-humans  with  little  or  no  problems.  They  may  be  financially  sound  but  are

confronted with stressful and  social  issues  which  demand  the intervention of human service practitioners. They

face  marital,  family,  work,  financial,  psychological  and  emotional  problems  which  they  often  try  to  keep  to

themselves. This attitude of no sharing their problems with others at times affect them to a large extend.

In  sum,  findings  of  this  study  revealed  that  most  of  the  bankers  have  family,  work  and  personal

concerns  which  need  to be  address  to  ensure their  social,  psychological,  physical and  emotional  needs.  Most

bankers find it difficult spending ample  time  with  their  families  due to their busy schedules thereby increasing

the  moral  decadence rate  of  their children.  Due  to work  overload  and  time pressure  the  bankers are  unable  to

manage work life with  family life which cause some serious social problems. Therefore, there is the need to put

in place adequate and proper strategies regarding  working  hours,  interpersonal  relationships and supervision of

bankers to  reduce  stress  and to  better  manage  the performance  of  employees in banking  sector. The foregoing

clearly reveals that bankers really have a lot of concerns ranging from their family life to their work

The Surprise Question

Quite recently, I was taken aback when a participant of a training programme asked me bluntly: “I can see there are so many training programmes being organised regularly for bankers on good customer service, fraud prevention, risk management, professionalism and ethics. Yet still, banks failed. Why? While these qualities are being drummed into our ears to imbibe them, how come the leadership did not lead by example? Do they even attend training programmes, or do they think they know it all?”

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The answer I could give was that going forward, sanitisation of banks includes Corporate Governance Directive (CGD) 2018 – which has finally been stamped for all regulated financial institutions to work with. This will make the Bank of Ghana fully in charge and ensure that good corporate governance is upheld by “fit and proper” persons who manage these institutions. We hope to see 2019 as a year of action with respect to following the CGD 2018.

The 2010 Nigerian Crisis

Looking back at the Nigerian banking crisis in 2010, the central bank of Nigeria was compelled to crack down on some failed banks. In a lecture, as a prelude to effecting the changes in the situation in Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi – then-Governor of CBN – identified governance malpractice within banks as the cause of a huge surge in capital availability.

According to him, failure in corporate governance at banks was a principal factor contributing to the financial crisis. Sanusi further indicated that poor corporate governance became the norm because boards ignored these practices – for reasons which included being misled by executive management, besides the boards themselves participating in obtaining unsecured loans at the expense of depositors.

The Changing Banking Landscape

 

While asking the question of whether you are in the right place or not, please remember that the banking landscape is also changing fast. To stay competitive, banks are investing millions of dollars into technology to digitise nearly every aspect of their businesses. But can they keep up with constant change coming from all directions?

Customer demand for more high-tech services, and for connectivity between popular financial management apps and their primary bank accounts are making CEOs stretch their funds to satisfy the ever innovative-hungry customers. After all, if they don’t catch up, the customers may easily switch. There is a new wave of conversational banking and how financial service providers are changing the customer experience, moving from ‘transactions’ to ‘interactions’.

 

The customer profile is changing, too. There are some lessons ahead on how the youngest customers — Generation Z — differ even from the millennials. Bank workers in university campus branches can attest to the fact that the large student customer base does not necessarily mean that your banking hall will be choked. After all, few students will bother to find time for visiting the bank. They only need e-banking services and products. The human interaction means nothing to them.

 

They want to use the apps to manage their accounts. They prefer to visit the e-channel suites, even if they have to enter the banking hall for their self-service. On the other hand, it is the senior members like lecturers and workers in the university who go into the bank. They prefer the people-touch and rely on people for their financial advisory services. They insist on using chequebooks, and hard copies of correspondence on all transactions (in black and white). But let me ask: how many customers want to do that? The numbers are falling.

 

Can you handle the new trends in banking?

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Automation is fast replacing humans, as can be seen from this latest example I read from Bloomberg news in respect of using artificial intelligence:

 

Conclusion

Occupational stress has increasingly occupied the attention of both practitioners and researchers alike, especially

in developed countries. The indications of stress  among  bankers  are  apparent  in  Ghana but not well-defined by

evidence.  Bankers  are  not  super-humans  with  little  or  no  problems.  They  may  be  financially  sound  but  are

confronted with stressful and  social  issues  which  demand  the intervention of human service practitioners. They

face  marital,  family,  work,  financial,  psychological  and  emotional  problems  which  they  often  try  to  keep  to

themselves. This attitude of no sharing their problems with others at times affect them to a large extend.

In  sum,  findings  of  this  study  revealed  that  most  of  the  bankers  have  family,  work  and  personal

concerns  which  need  to be  address  to  ensure their  social,  psychological,  physical and  emotional  needs.  Most

bankers find it difficult spending ample  time  with  their  families  due to their busy schedules thereby increasing

the  moral  decadence rate  of  their children.  Due  to work  overload  and  time pressure  the  bankers are  unable  to

manage work life with  family life which cause some serious social problems. Therefore, there is the need to put

in place adequate and proper strategies regarding  working  hours,  interpersonal  relationships and supervision of

bankers to  reduce  stress  and to  better  manage  the performance  of  employees in banking  sector. The foregoing

clearly reveals that bankers really have a lot of concerns ranging from their family life to their work

“U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, BBVA Compass and Banco Popular are among the banks that have centres of excellence deploying robotics and artificial intelligence to streamline work processes and establish more uniform procedures. The largest banks are automating work anywhere they can, especially routine work like cutting and pasting data from one app to another. This will dramatically change banking jobs and the skills required to do them. People will be needed to design and train bots and AI engines, to test and oversee them, and to manage the employees who do those jobs.”

 

How tech-savvy are you? We all know that younger-generation staff are very adept with technology and can therefore market and handle such transactions far better than their superiors. Ask yourself: Are you prepared to go into new areas of products that rely purely on new technology and appreciation of their use before advising customers? Can you learn their risk elements and be on top of the issues? The Internet allows many customers to take their financial advice through virtual banking and e-advisors. Can you move with the times?

 

I will pause here. As promised, I will conclude next week by dealing with Professionalism and Ethics in the workplace, as well as the various mechanisms one can use to cope with them.

 

TO BE CONTINUED….

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.

CONTACT

Website www.alkanbiz.com

Email: alberta@alkanbiz.com  or albique@yahoo.com

Tel: +233-0244333051/+233-0244611343

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