Is the global banking industry up to the millennial challenge?

21 Jan 2019

Is the global banking industry up to the millennial challenge?

One strong theme that emerged from the Odgers Berndtson survey of the state of global banking was the major impact of millennials in the workplace. Just how are banks coping and getting to grips with this influential new generation of talent?

The millennial generation has brought a whole new mindset to the wholesale banking industry. In fact, our recent Odgers Berndtson Global Banking report reveals that for many of the 50 senior bankers we interviewed, they are the biggest force changing the wholesale banking industry.

Bankers told us that millennials can be impatient, restless and entitled, but overall it seems they are having a positive impact on the working culture of their banks.

“We are seeing a change in mindset for the better: they learn from their failures, value honesty, seek out work with a purpose, and do the best they can for their clients and society.”

At the same time, the competition for young talent among banks, private equity firms and tech companies is stiff. So while their bosses may not always understand them, wholesale banks are working hard to retain millennial talent, as our report illustrates.

Moving targets

Big banks are also noticing high turnover at the junior level as some millennials drift on to entrepreneurial FinTech start-ups or to boutique private equity firms.

As one banker put it, “the war for talent is real at a junior level.” Others added, “they are a scarce resource in a very competitive, global talent market” and “they interview the bank and not the other way around.”

Successful strategies

So how can wholesale banks keep high-value, high-potential millennials engaged and loyal? Many banks are taking a multi-pronged approach, in the hope of improving retention:

  • creating forums where junior employees can speak directly to senior management
  • investing in graduate training and mentoring programmes
  • offering both practice group, and geographical rotations

The most innovative approach we heard was from a senior banker in South Africa:

“We are looking at ways to use technology to cut down on menial tasks and provide younger staff with more puzzles, more agility and less bureaucracy. In that way, we’re creating more of a gaming culture, as far as that’s possible in a highly-regulated environment."

Get the full picture in our free report

Wholesale banking is a traditional business, but the cultural change being driven by younger staff is, according to our survey, at least as influential as technological change and other disruptive forces.

To download the Odgers Berndtson Report ‘Technology, talent and trust. The state of global wholesale banking’, click below.

Download report now

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