Shortage of skilled staff worry GCC bankers
Without enough skilled staff, banks are just about falling short of catering to increasingly demanding customers. Will the local market make up for the shortage or will banks look abroad?
November 29, 2011 4:08 by Precious de Leon
The GCC’s banking sector has been nothing if not abuzz. In the UAE alone, banks have been all sorts of busy. Back in March, the use of telemarketing to lure new clients has been banned (unfortunately, if you’re already an existing client then they can still pester you on the phone).
Then over the summer, there were those regulations from the UAE central bank, giving more stringent requirements for financing and loans.
Then of course there’s Qatar’s involvement with the banking sector in Greece this October when the Qatar Investment Authority got involved in the merger between two of the largest banks in Greece.
And across the GCC, there have been whispers of reviving the unified currency discussion, not to mention financial transactions would have been thrown for a loop considering the current political climates in Bahrain and Kuwait.
As reality of a new banking order sets in and banks prepare for new opportunities and services to fulfill, most of them are challenged to find the right kind of staff to get them through this time of transition.
And this is just what the latest Accenture survey has found. In a letter accompanying the release, Managing Director Amr Elsaadani said:
In a region with traditionally low customer penetration, banks will compete to acquire and retain customers, underscoring the need to stay differentiated. While with continuing global systemic risk and a tightening regional regulatory environment, it is even more important to ensure a strong competitive position.
The global management consulting firm spoke to 47 executives at major banks in the GCC between June and August 2011 for the report, which found the majority (58 percent) stating “skills shortage is the biggest challenge facing the GCC banking industry, aside from new regulation– especially as more global banks enter the market.”
Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents agreed that the biggest impact of more global banks operating in the region will be the increased competition for skills and talent over the next few years. A majority (89 percent) of respondents said that attracting and retaining talent will be the most important strategy their banks will use to increase shareholder value.
This shortage may be an opportune time for those who’ve lost banking jobs in the West, where the workforce has drastically shrunk. These same experienced hopefuls would, assumedly come head to head with locally-based bankers who have been redundant and are still on the job hunt as well as with new university graduates desperate to get a foot in the door.
So what’s being done? Banks are apparently implementing a range of initiatives to address skill shortage and retain talent. Among these are:
- Coaching and mentoring (53 percent)
- Revamping compensation through higher salaries and bonuses (51 percent)
- Increasing transparency in career paths (47 percent)
RISING EXPECTATIONS, DIMINISHING LOYALTY
According to the survey, customers in the Gulf region are becoming more demanding and less loyal to their institutions.
Improving customer service was cited by executives as the single most critical challenge to attract and retain customers through 2015. In fact, 46 percent of executives cited it as “critical” and 30 percent cited it as important.
Meeting increasing demand from customers for online and mobile services was cited as a top challenge by 79 percent of respondents. And, 71 percent of executives said declining customer loyalty would be a major challenge through 2015.
And here are other findings:
- 93 percent of executives see “robust customer management” as the top driver of profits and growth through 2015. This was ranked higher than better risk management, pricing, and cost reduction.
- 87 percent believe “improving customer centricity” will be the most important strategy their banks can use to address market challenges and outperform the industry. This was ranked ahead of product innovation, productivity improvement, risk management, product distribution, diversification of businesses, new operating models and cost reduction.
TARGETING WOMEN, YOUTH, SMEs
Meanwhile, the region’s banks are in a race to adapt to more demanding customers and are increasingly targeting the largely untapped youth, women and small- and medium-sized business markets.
The survey revealed that an overwhelming majority of respondents (91 percent) are investing in…(CONTINUED TO NEXT PAGE)
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