Risk Watch with Alberta Quarcoopome Bankers at the crossroad (Part II)

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banking
Alberta Quarcoopome

Last week, I created an awareness of the need for banks as corporate bodies as well as individual bankers to pay closer attention to the paradigm shift in banking and have a serious change of mindset, as a pre-requisite to moving on.

This period of self-reflection is to identify best fit purposes of each banker or each bank and put in innovative systems to avoid being abandoned by the roadside. Although there are always generic internal factors that recur in the business of banking which always necessitates restructuring, this particular period of the fintech revolution has destabilized plans that traditional banks had a decade ago.

Internal factors

Let us examine some internal factors which are generating the changes in the banking industry in recent years. Apart from the digital revolution, the new crop of talents being hired, made up of the Generation Z and Millenials have new talents to drive digital banking but do not have requisite people skills, resulting in teamwork issues. Older and more experienced staff have people skills, but very much risk averse and slower in decision-making. The changing role of bank managers due to flatter organizational structures and additional indirect reporting lines by their subordinates to head office is also changing the setup.

There is faster decision-making due to digitization and therefore, a reduction of errors. However, the reduction in physical interaction with customers has been accompanied by pros and cons. For example, the lack of interaction sometimes results in less customer-centrism, reduced empathy, and over-dependency on machines. Some customers feel who depend on the human interaction, or rather, the “human touch” feel neglected.

Sources of Bankers’ Crossroads

Why are banks also finding themselves at a crossroad recently? Boards of Directors and Management of banks have also reached a turning point. Some strategy sessions identify some of the following myriad of issues such as: competition from FinTechs, saddled with the legacy software infrastructure, competition from Telcos in offering bank products, intensive monitoring by the Regulators, competition from Insurance companies, anticipated competition from cyptocurrency, loss of deposits from the financial crises in Ghana (2017-2019), the Covid 19 Pandemic which has become a catalyst for change, problems encountered during restructuring & organizational change arising from mergers, acquisitions and consolidation of banks.

The Turning Point for Bank Staff

Here is a list of requirements that is keeping many bankers awake at night:

  • Change of mindset
  • Time for self-reflection
  • Identification of strengths and areas for improvement
  • Focus on enhancing soft skills for value creation
  • Acceptance of change or endure until retirement?
  • Preparing to self-upgrade to become more relevant to the new paradigm.
  • Taking steps to acquire new skills/trade to be more useful outside banking.
  • Enhancement of business networking skills
  • Personal branding

Do not leave the future of your careers wholly in the hands of your management. Be bold enough to make an impact.

The Turning Point for Bank Management

One year on after Covid 19, many issues expected to be closed by now, are still nagging the management of banks. Working from home for some bank staff is still going on, costs on sanitization and maintaining covid protocols are still ongoing. Staff costs and expenditure are still high. At the crossroad, the following issues are still keeping the bank management awake at night:

  • Practicalizing a fundamental change in mindset of all stakeholders towards the transformation in banking
  • Taking decisions on alignment of staff to new organizational structure and job descriptions
  • Res-shaping workforce and talent strategy
  • Employment of a new breed of bankers with skills in creative design and programming.
  • Re-tooling staff for optimum performance in the transformation journey
  • Increasing collaboration between banks, telcos and Fintechs, insurance companies, for shared solutions in financial services delivery.
  • Realistic job cuts to fit the needs of the banks.
  • Planned compensation for exiting staff

The future of financial services is here. Are you ready?

Financial services organizations are at a transformational tipping point. Faced with fierce market pressures throughout the industry — nimble disruptors, complex regulations, digital native customers, and the aftermath of a global pandemic — technology transformation is no longer merely a competitive advantage, but an absolute necessity. In the digital world, there’s no room for manual processes and systems.

Banks are re-thinking of technology-based resolutions to banking industry challenges. Therefore, it’s important that financial institutions promote a culture of innovation, in which technology is leveraged to optimize existing processes and procedures for maximum efficiency. This cultural shift toward a technology-first attitude is reflective of the larger industry-wide acceptance of digital transformation.

Pressure from the Regulator and Unchanged expectations of Shareholders

The central bank has been kept busy with sanitizing financial institutions and issuing regular Directives for compliance, and instituting sanctions to those who flout them.  The cost associated with compliance management is just one of many banking industry challenges forcing financial institutions to change the way they do business. The increasing cost of capital combined with sustained low-interest rates, decreasing return on equity, putting pressure on traditional sources of banking profitability. In spite of this, shareholder expectations remain unchanged.

Security Breaches

While banks work tirelessly to meet the ever-rising demands of today’s astute customers, cyber-security is also increasing risk of banking operations. With a series of high-profile breaches over the past few years, security is one of the leading banking industry challenges, as well as a major concern for bank customers. Financial institutions are investing in the latest technology-driven security measures to keep sensitive customers safe. Examples are: Address-verifications systems, bio-metric authentication, KYC and anti-money laundering systems, etc.

Continuous Innovation

Sustainable success in banking business requires insight, agility, rich client relationships, and continuous innovation. Benchmarking effective practices throughout the industry can provide valuable insight, helping banks stay competitive, while adapting innovation to thrive. Innovation is a key differentiator that separates the wheat from the chaff.

Decision at the Crossroads

A crossroad marks a major decision-making and turning point in the journey of banking. Both management and staff of banks have serious concerns about the future of banking. This is the time for leaders to engage staff to be aligned to the digital transformation to get their support at all levels. Dear bankers, this is a gentle reminder of the paradigm shift in banking. What can you do about it? Are you ready to embrace change? To upgrade yourself to be more relevant on the job, and not be square pegs in round holes? To collaborate with the millennials who are coming on board the fast-moving banking train? They will still need guidance and mentoring because the machine does not teach those human qualities. Are you ready to assist the technocrats to infuse more risk management concepts in the big data analytics, so that the world is not over-ridden with machines?

Gentle Reminder:

Extracts from Chapter One of “THE MODERN BRANCH MANAGER’S COMPANION”

In the first chapter of the book, (Reflections: Am I in the right profession?) it shows the need for managers to periodically review their personal and corporate goals, conduct a self-audit and pause for reflection:

Quote: “Are you aware that some managers get so used to the routine and simplicity that they hardly find time to learn new things?    Many people are on autopilot, with little use of initiatives and eventually become counter-productive in the long run. Long experience, without new learning opportunities affects one’s productivity.  An even bigger loss is that they may go through their entire working lives without discovering, let alone unlocking their true potential.

Winston Churchill once said that, “we should never waste a good crisis”. Perhaps this is the biggest gift of the current pandemic, that it provides us with the opportunity to rethink our potential and ensure that we are positioning ourselves toward the future. To be sure, it is too soon for most people to realize this, yet in the long-term, a significant number of people will likely end up in better careers and look back on their less meaningful and less engaging past careers.”

I will pause here. I wish you good experiences on your banking journey, as you take some of my apprehensions in good faith. The changing pace in banking is real.

For more insights please book a copy of my new book, “THE MODERN BRANCH MANAGER’S COMPANION” which involves the adoption of a multi-disciplinary approach in the practice of today’s branch management. It also shares invaluable insights on the mindset needed to navigate and make a difference in the changing dynamics of the banking industry. Call 0244333051 for your copy.

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 Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. 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:[email protected]alkanbiz.com  or [email protected]

Tel: +233-0244333051/+233-0244611343

 

 

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