What APac's banker of the future needs

Of all the industries facing disruption brought on by the technology and social media revolution, banking is one of the most affected. Across the world fintech is changing the game, customers and non-bank attackers are shifting the battlefield and traditional corporate cultures are being forced to evolve.

As banks adapt so too must staff. The banker of the future will have different skills and background to the banker of today.

"Fast forward 20 years in banking and undoubtedly the industry will look and feel different to customers, employees, shareholders and regulators."
Stuart Hall, Senior Relationship Manager, ANZ

For six years, ANZ has run a special Generalist Banker program, giving young executives from around the region a thorough understanding of this rapidly evolving world.

BlueNotes spoke with six bankers, one from each year of the program, to gain a perspective on their experience of change and what this means for the banker of the future.

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I'm often asked if I'll encourage my two sons to follow me into the world of banking and what qualifications, experiences and languages they will need. That's difficult to predict but will almost certainly be a different combination to my own.

Fast forward 20 years in banking and undoubtedly the industry will look and feel different to customers, employees, shareholders and regulators.

Digital disruption is emerging as a genuine gamechanger, requiring banks to hire increasingly more data scientists, coders, social media experts and fintech gurus.

Remaining agile, adaptable and insightful will be critical in leveraging the technical skills to understand and predict customer needs and behaviours.

Stuart HallSenior Relationship Manager, Melbourne (2010 cohort)

Over the past five years the global banking industry has seemingly moved from one market shock or economic crisis to the next.

From the slowing of China and return of the United States to a combusting Europe, the world of banking has clearly evolved. Banks have needed to adapt to a lower growth, lower margin environment, with regulation and competition fiercer than ever.

For the last six years ANZ has run a Generalist Bankers Program giving people from more than 15 countries the opportunity to develop a career as an international banker.

As well as providing talent, the program has offered a vertical tasting of the evolution of financial services through the eyes of diverse participants around the region.

Each of the bankers in this story is a product of the program.

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Jevan Goodhew, Associate Director, Singapore (2011 cohort)

Technology has changed the competitive landscape – we only need to look at the emergence and growth of online players like Simple and peer-to-peer lenders such as SocietyOne to see the impact on the industry.

These new entrants are attracting customers who are looking for easy and convenient solutions. This will extend to the corporate sector in time, as evidenced by PayPal's move into business lending.

As the use of technology in banking grows so too does the risk of data breaches. Earlier this year, software security group Kaspersky Lab found that multinational cybercriminals infiltrated more than 100 banks, e-payment systems and other financial institutions across 30 countries, stealing around $US1 billion since 2013.

The rapid rise of cybercrime means the protection of customer data is more important than ever, as banks seek to retain the trust and confidence of customers and regulators.

This changing landscape means that the banker of the future will need to understand how to leverage technology in order to solve customer problems more cheaply, faster and effectively than the competition.

Similarly, as the world becomes more global, bankers with skills in cross-cultural diplomacy, relationship building and who have the ability to deal with challenging situations will be vital as banks seek to invest in new and emerging markets.

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Vicky LonoManager, Jakarta (2012 cohort)

What I expected to be a steady, conservative and progressive career progression has turned out to be fast-paced, challenging and rewarding

As bankers our day to day activities have become more complex, managing multiple external stakeholders simultaneously – banking supervisors, government, environmental activists etc.

The ongoing social and technological disruption of the banking industry has brought fresh perspectives.

Business leaders are now using social media to encourage their staff to be more proactive and collaborative in identifying issues and sharing solutions.

Bankers need to embrace start-ups as innovators and partners who can help them identify room for improvement in their current practices and be the first to deliver new products and services.

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Natalia SusantoManager, Perth (2013 cohort)

Today's generation of bankers has witnessed some of the most prominent events and developments in our global economy – from the 2008 mortgage crisis in the US, which sent the global economy into recession, to the rise of major Asian economies and the digital revolution that has spurred growth in financial technology in more recent years.

Banks face the need to redefine their position in a landscape that is continuously evolving and increasingly challenging to operate in.

While the need for constant change may present discomfort for an industry that has thrived on stability and dominance, it also presents opportunities for banks to reinvent themselves.

The Asian Century has entered a new chapter, with the region accounting for 32 per cent (or $US5.9 trillion) of total global export flow, fuelling the global economy with around 6 per cent GDP growth per annum. Asia is expected to account for 59 per cent of middle class consumption by 2030 and 51 per cent of global GDP by 2050.

The operating and regulatory environment in Asia is much more complex. Banks need to be agile and build resilience to operate successfully across different parts of the region.

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Wei SunGeneralist Banker, Hong Kong (2014 cohort)

I used to work in a marketing-driven sector where a tight regulatory environment simply did not exist. Business borders were ruptured daily and so arguably there was more innovation free from process compliance requirements.

It's a challenge for the banking industry to balance the tightening compliance requirements with the need to be agile and innovative. Data management and technology are both the greatest opportunity and burden to banks – and to all industries undergoing transformation.

Understanding how regulatory and compliance issues impact businesses and the ability to handle them are increasingly important skills for generalists.

As the need to effectively analyse and manage data and operational risk evolves, the ability to blend data management skills and banking knowledge will be vital.

While the bar for customer experience and expectation have been reshaped by initiatives occurring outside the sphere of traditional banking services, the capability to understand and keep pace with this changing customer experiences and bringing this insight into products and solution delivery is also a necessity.

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Tina TranGeneralist Banker, Melbourne (2015 cohort)

I started my banking career with the idea that banking is all about trading in money and risk while a successful banker is one who can makes accurate calculated decisions to pick the right deal. I quickly realised it all starts with the customer.

A successful banker is one who is good at identifying customer needs and offering the right solutions. This way of thinking now shapes my priority for learning, which is to develop skills in building relationships with customers and understanding their needs.

The banker of the future needs to be technologically savvy. We need to be the first to educate customers about innovation in financial services and what their bank can offer in the way of technology. And we need to build close ties to the start-up community.

Leigh Cohen is a communications advisor at ANZ.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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