Banks look at a younger generation to fit growing workforce gap

Ioannis Pashakis, BridgeTower Media//September 3, 2019

Banks look at a younger generation to fit growing workforce gap

Ioannis Pashakis, BridgeTower Media//September 3, 2019

The desire to pursue a career in financial services drove Admir Jadaic, a student at Franklin and Marshall College, to work as a janitor for Goldman Sachs and an elevator operator at the Bank of America.

Jadaic most recently joined a group of 19 students in a week-long banking boot camp as part of a Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities initiative to bring more young people into a financial industry in need of new faces.

The business, organizations and society major and his peers are a rarity in the current banking landscape. Rather than finding students driven to join the industry like Jadaic, banks are realizing that the incoming workforce is unaware that the industry has more to offer than accounting and bank teller positions.

“If you ask a younger person about jobs at a bank they will name a mortgage officer or a teller, that’s what they think we offer,” said Troy Peters, president and CEO of Jonestown Bank and Trust. “But in reality we have IT, marketing, security and human resources.”

With more technology being utilized in banking, organizations such as Harrisburg-based PSECU have added positions in data analytics and digital marketing but find that the number of qualified candidates applying are decreasing.

Initiatives like the state Department of Banking and Securities’ boot camp, known as the Next Generation Bankers Academy, are trying to educate students on how they can apply their majors into the financial industry and take advantage of those openings.

The Pennsylvania Bankers Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, both based in Harrisburg, worked alongside the department to create the second annual bankers academy, held in August.

The push to drive interest is coming at a time where many banking staff and executives are reaching retirement age and a lack of new recruitments could cause problems for a company’s succession plan.

“We will be losing bankers to retirement and with this program and other programs, the intent is to introduce young, aspiring professionals to our industry and for them to work their way into those senior positions,” said Duncan Campbell, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Banker’s Association.

Jonestown Bank and Trust has attended the academy during both years and Peters said that today’s students who were coming of age at the time of the Great Recession and saw their neighbors and family foreclose on their homes could also be seeing the industry in a negative light.

“While we weren’t part of that, I think we are lumped in with Wall Street and the financial industry. Life experience can influence that,” he said.

At the academy, students met with representatives from local community banks such as C&N, Orrstown and Fulton. Senior management from local banks led classes with the students that covered the various careers available to them within the industry.

“The learning never stopped no matter who you spoke to, no two days were the same,” Jadaic said. “Everyone was motivated and everyone wanted to help one another.”

This year’s academy was held in various locations throughout Lancaster city and admitted 19 students out of 30 possible seats. Secretary Robin Wiessman of the state Department of Banking and Securities, said that she sees there being an incremental growth to the program over the coming years but that the goal of such a program is to give students the opportunity to work one on one with the area’s banking leaders.

Kevin Shivers, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers, said that the participation is a great starting point for a program focused on getting into the details of a career in finances.

“As the students have a chance to move into the private sector and have an opportunity to explore a career in banking, word of mouth is certainly going to grow the program,” Shivers said.

The department has also spearheaded the state’s participation in the national Community Bank Case Study Competition, another attempt to grow student interest in banking and finance. In the competition, students create original case studies on topics relevant to community banks and this year, students from Juniata College in Huntingdon County won.

Wiessman said the competition is an example of a program in which the state initially had a small participation, with only two schools and grew to having the largest amount of entrants in the competition at 13.

Any potential increase in the banking workforce would impact rural banks the most, according to Peters. Community banks like Jonestown have a smaller talent pool to find applicants from and the hope is to bring more of those students to the cities between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Looking at future opportunities in the financial industry, Shivers noted that emerging industries like cannabis banking could be a big draw for the incoming workforce.

“You have this emerging industry in Pennsylvania yet at the federal level it is illegal, how do you navigate those issues?” he asked. “There are a lot of challenges out there but there is also a lot of opportunity.”