Time for an image change

Tony Ward

December 14, 2015

Tony Ward is chief executive of Clayton Euro Risk

Scanning the papers this week, one article really leapt off the page at me: a survey from Deloitte suggested that banks are at risk of losing the best university graduates to technology companies because of a perception that they are old fashioned and lack innovation.

This doesn’t bode well for the financial sector. Margaret Doyle, head of financial services at Deloitte, suggests that the sector is caught in a ‘vicious circle’ in which they desperately need technology recruits to compete with fierce competition from new challengers yet are failing to tempt the best talent because of their somewhat antiquated image. According to Deloitte the overall popularity of a career in banking has fallen by four percentage points between 2008 and 2015; the popularity of a career software and computer services rose by roughly the same figure.

This pattern is being replicated across the Atlantic, where bankers have been deserting Wall Street for Silicon Valley and the West Coast.

Is this the start of a systemic shift? Image-wise the credit crisis did not helped financial services organisations and there is a suspicion that business students have been put off banks by the intensity of the public backlash against the industry.

According to Deloitte, the banking sector has been more interested in rebuilding its institutions than focusing on new technology and innovation. This must change otherwise the sector will be adversely affected.

More needs to be done to attract top young talent into the sector. This is increasingly important if the forecast of former Barclays chief Anthony Jenkins comes true. His prediction is that banks across the world may cut half of their staff and branches in the next ten years as they struggle to protect profits and retain customers in the face of rising competition from technology companies.

Time to expend some effort on ditching that fusty image.

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