Are you becoming irrelevant in the digital banking era? (4)

Quickening the Pace of Digital Banking


As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the government of Ghana has imposed some restrictions on some activities – which include closing down schools, travel restrictions into the country as well as social distancing among the public. Many service providers who provide services through physical contact are now practicing enforcement of handwashing and sanitisation of hands before entry into their premises.                                                                                      As a result of the directive to practice social distancing, banks in Ghana are now intensifying the education of customers on the need to divert or concentrate their transactions on digital banking. More people are now using the various bank apps to transact business and restrict physical contact with bank staff to the barest minimum.


Last week, we examined some critical training needs that financial institutions can use to help bridge the gap and ensure their staff fit well into the digital banking era.  In the advisory role that the few branch staff left would have to master, product knowledge is key. Customers who walk into a branch, whether traditional or digital, have become very assertive and know what pertains in other banks as well as the promises made online. Not being experienced enough in financial advisory and business operations would cause modern customers to resort to doing strictly online banking. Concentration on new skills reflects the importance of being tech-savvy and having a good understanding about the business.

For a bank to succeed in the technology-driven world, technical talent is important. However, there is also a need to value enduring human skills for a bank to succeed in the long run. Upskilling and retraining are key for current and future bankers to work more effectively in a digital environment.


With the digital transformation well underway, banking professionals are expected to combine their technical skills with tech savvy-ness. Banks are redefining job roles and restructuring their organisations to facilitate various digital banking initiatives. This has become so important that failure to do so will cause banks to risk losing their training investments as newly-skilled employees leave for other opportunities. Coupled with the need for a dramatic cultural change for the digital transformation, having digital skill sets will set you apart from the rest. Let us examine IBM’s six pillars of skills needed in digital banking.

According to IBF’s future-enabled skills pillars, the following six skills reflect the importance of being tech-savvy and having a good understanding about the business. These will assist banks and their staff to remain relevant in digital banking.


  1. Communicating with customers

With the decline of branch locations and increasing adoption of mobile banking, being able to engage effectively with customers is key. Mobile banking is now a focal point in the banking experience. Consumers of mobile banking demand improvements in basic functions such as opening accounts and seeking support. Bank staff therefore need to be skilled in engaging consumers through digital channels, which will allow banks to better map the customers’ journeys and offer personalised offers and products.  With the incorporation of advanced Know Your Customer (KYC) and other authentication approaches into their digital apps, customers will continue to benefit from the continued engagement.

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  1. Digital Awareness

How digitally aware are you? Having a basic understanding of the major aspects of digital banking and how they can be applied to the business is important. In the increasingly connected world, digital platforms are becoming the preferred channel to reach customers. Bank staff must learn digital marketing and sales, which are key points that deliver digital banking services.                                                                                                                                                         With artificial intelligence, banks are now giving advice through the use of chatbots. Such channels, when adopted in the customers’ best interests, will likely promote brand loyalty. Although retail banking will remain personal to a large extent, there is still a need to integrate digital know-how. With the application of new technologies in banking, it will be important to get familiar with the tools in terms of where they are going in the short-term and their long-term potentials.


  1. Agile/Entrepreneurial Thinking

As mentioned in the previous articles in this series, having an open and adaptable mindset is key. This is especially important in agile organisations wherein change is the only constant. The adoption of digital technologies such as mobile applications, social media and data analytics allows banks to build an agile mind-set to remain competitive in the future.


  1. Risk & Governance in the Digital World

Enhanced training on the risks in digital banking is a must-have. In the digitised world of financial services, new kinds of risks are abundant. Various risks associated with identity fraud, cybersecurity and regulatory compliance could potentially threaten banks’ control over customer experience. Increasingly, banks will need to improve on differentiating real from fake customers with the use of digital platforms. The potential for cyber-risk has also been increasing with the greater interconnectedness and utilisation of new technologies in the banking ecosystem.

  1. Data-Driven Decision-making 

Data analytics is heavily used in banks for decisionmaking and problem-solving. Training in a data-driven approach to customer segmentation allows banks to deliver targetted messages to the right audience. At a time like this, bank staff need to learn more about customer segmentation by using the real data collected through artificial intelligence. Without this real-time knowledge, response time and decision-making will be affected – leaving a huge gap in the customer-satisfaction chain. With this arsenal of data, bank staff can gain insights into customer profiles, behavioural and psychographic characteristics, and attend to them accordingly in delivering a better customer experience.


  1. Human-Centred Design

Digital banking focuses on customer-centricity and delivering seamless customer experience through different channels. Such an approach requires that banks design products and services from a customer perspective. When banks incorporate a customer in the design process to fit the needs of that customer, the products and services hold more value to the customer. Given that new technologies are influential in banks, preserving the human element will become important when designing useful products for customers.

For a bank to succeed in a technology-driven world, technical talent is important. However, there is also a need to value enduring human skills for a bank to succeed in the long run. Upskilling and retraining are key for current and future bankers to work more effectively in a digital environment.

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The Last Lap

Dear bank staff, do you still want to remain in the financial service sector? Is yes, then there is a need to continue refreshing your knowledge about the changes that might affect you and the institutions you are in. Key areas such as regulatory changes, economic changes and different developments in the tools (technologies) used will impact the way we make decisions. In order to make strategic decisions, you need to stay relevant and informed about ongoing industry changes. Please remember to be abreast with latest news and industry happenings, such as:

  • Subscribe to industry-related newsletters

The easiest way to find out about ongoing changes in the industry is simply to read about them. There are many free resources out there, such as online publications which you can easily subscribe to. You can receive regular weekly, bi-weekly or monthly newsletters about the latest news, commentary or opinion pieces. Such articles provide informative and insightful knowledge about the different topics in banking. For example, ‘The Financial Brand’ and ‘Banking Tech’.

  • Listen to podcasts

Podcasts are a convenient way to take in knowledge during your commute to and from work, from gaining an understanding of the changing global economy to the latest FinTech trends.


  • Read reports/white papers

White papers are great resources for the latest regulatory changes or governmental issues faced by the industry as a whole. Apart from white papers, reports about the latest trends in digital banking, artificial intelligence or big data can be found online. Reading such reports will give you a better understanding of what they mean and how they impact the industry, as well as your career.


  • Attend conferences

Conferences are a great way to network and check out the latest innovations in the industry. Discover what thought-leaders have to say about the changes, and the kinds of predictions they make about the industry’s future.


Final Thoughts

The banking and finance industry is constantly changing. Ongoing education is a necessity if you and your team want to stay current on the latest skills, technology and information required to be successful. However, banking leaders realise that, even in a perfect world, they will not be able to retrain all of the employees which could be displaced by technology. As a result, there should be alternative options for helping those employees. The cultural implications of wholesale reductions can be massive, and career-counselling services are needed to help people with the transition.




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 for training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.



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