Banking and Finance Employment: Commercial Banking Jobs Continue to Decline in November

Financial activities added 20,000 jobs in November, with half of the gain in insurance carriers and related activities.  Over the past year, insurance has contributed 70,000 jobs to the overall employment gain of 114,000 in financial activities.

- BLS Employment Situation Summary, November 2014

Jobs continue to decline in commercial banking.

Jobs continue to decline in commercial banking.

In addition to the increase in insurance employment, securities and real estate added jobs in November.  Jobs in commercial banking continued to decline.

Credit intermediation employment declined (-3,400) in November and 27,300 jobs have been lost over the past year. Within the industry, commercial banking employment was unchanged and 27,500 jobs have been lost over the past year.  Average monthly job loss in credit intermediation, including commercial banking, is 2,300.

Employment in securities showed little change in November and has increased by 23,900 jobs over the past year.  Average monthly job gain in securities since November 2013 is 2,000.

In November, insurance carriers and related activities employment gained 10,000 jobs. This compares to an average monthly job gain of 5,800 over the prior twelve months.  Insurance and related activities employment is up by 70,000 jobs over the past year.

Real estate and rental and leasing added 5,500 jobs over the month and is up by 47,500 jobs over the year. Average monthly job gain in real estate and rental and leasing is 4,000 over the prior twelve months.BLS_logo

Over the past twelve months, the average weekly earnings of Financial Activities employees have risen by 3.0 percent.

Source:  BLS Employment Situation Summary, November 2014

Woo Banking Recruits with a Culture They Can’t Refuse

Three business people walking together.Recruiting and retaining talented employees has become an urgent responsibility for bankers, as Joel Berg writes in a recent article for American Banker Magazine. Not only are bankers’ skills easily transferable to other industries, many top candidates worry about reports that the banking industry is shrinking through ongoing job cuts and news coverage highlighting the bad behavior of a minority of bankers. It’s easy for candidates to conclude that banking is a field that is becoming irrelevant and should be avoided or abandoned as a career choice.

Moreover, it’s difficult to find candidates who possess the skills needed for universal bankers. Strong candidates need to have interpersonal, problem-solving and sales skills, and a knowledge gap is opening up as Baby Boomers leave the workforce. Concurrently, banks are experiencing increasing demand for employees with knowledge of cutting-edge technology and for staffers with compliance expertise. Filling these gaps is a high hurdle for banks at both the recruiting and training and development level.

Finding people with the right skills to be bankers of the future is only half the battle. Banks will succeed in hiring good candidates only if they can make a competitive offer and display strong company culture.

The challenge of creating prudent and effective compensation plans in a new banking era cannot be underestimated.

Cash is Still King!

Cash is King!

For as long as there have been incentive compensation plans, there have been individuals who seek to exploit those plans to enrich themselves. Anticipating the actions of those individuals comes with the territory. Leaders must create compensation plans that reward people who achieve their goals without unintentionally encouraging risky, wrong-headed or unethical behavior. Banks have long navigated this issue; now additional regulatory scrutiny has put them under even more pressure to strike the right balance.

Bankers must also create a culture that both employees and customers will want to be associated with. The banking industry desperately needs an image makeover. Individual companies should be working to transform themselves with lean, modern business models that receive public recognition for contributing to the benefit of consumers, businesses and communities. Repairing the industry’s tarnished reputation will take time.

It is certainly a challenge to create a corporate banking culture that is defined by its ability to deliver valuable products and services to customers, and to build a workforce that displays the highest standards of job excellence and ethics. But these efforts will always be well rewarded.

Note:  This post was originally published in American Banker BankThink on December 10, 2014.

Pelicans Aid Ryan Anderson’s Recovery After Girlfriend’s Suicide

Basketball TeamThe response of the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team to the suicide of player Ryan Anderson’s girlfriend is a good example for companies facing similar tragedies within their employee family.

In the November Sports Illustrated article detailing Anderson’s journey through the aftermath of girlfriend Gia Allemand’s suicide, are examples of the ways in which the Pelicans provided support to their teammate.

Immediately after the suicide, the Pelicans’ coach, Monty Williams, was on the scene and available for Anderson. Both Williams and his wife had personal experience with suicide and were able to use that to prepare Anderson for what was to come in the months to follow. A Pelican teammate drove Anderson to the hospital the day after the suicide and ran errands for him over the next few days. These small, but meaningful, gestures helped Anderson feel that he wasn’t abandoned by the team in his critical time of grief.

Devastated by his girlfriend’s suicide, Anderson did not believe he could return to basketball and he considered retiring. But, after a time, Coach Williams encouraged Anderson to return to the game. Williams believed the sport and the locker room camaraderie would be therapeutic for Anderson.

It isn’t clear from the SI article whether training in suicide awareness was provided to the team before Anderson’s return, but the way the team greeted him in the players’ locker room was clearly helpful.

I just want to thank you guys for just treating me like normal.

- Ryan to his teammates in a speech on the day of his return to basketball.

Ryan Anderson was ultimately able to successfully return to basketball and has since become an advocate for suicide prevention.AFSP_Logo_Blue

Corporate managers and small business owners often don’t know how to respond when a death by suicide impacts their workplace. The Pelicans’ example is a good case study.

According to the SI article,

“Over the weeks that followed, the gym became, in Ryan’s words, ‘a sanctuary’ for two or three hours a day. Sure, when he returned home at night the darkness closed in again, but at least he had a place to find peace. To escape.”

Source: Ballard, Chris. “Ryan Anderson tries to move forward after girlfriend Gia Allemand’s suicide.” Sports Illustrated. Nov. 14, 2014. Online.

Evolution of the Bank Teller

TellerThe Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) was invented in the 1960s. We’ve been reading about the death of the bank teller job ever since. But teller jobs didn’t immediately disappear. Customers didn’t instantly abandon the real person at the bank.   HR professionals devoted careers to recruiting, training and retaining bank tellers.

Today mobile banking and new payment systems are finally changing the way customers interact with bankers. The end of the traditional teller job may be in sight. Readers commenting on a recent WJS article, “Bank Tellers Battle Obsolescence”, compared tellers to jobs that no longer exist: gas station attendants and elevator operators.

While no new jobs emerged to replace the honorable gas station attendant or the helpful elevator operator, teller jobs are evolving into higher-skilled positions.  A “universal” banker role is being tested in many bank branches. It’s too soon to tell whether the new job will take hold, how many will be created, how much the job will be paid or what career paths might open from it.

A major challenge for HR in 2015 and beyond is finding people for an entry-level, universal banker job that requires strong interpersonal, customer service, math and sales skills.

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