In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about how bank branches will adjust because of digital banking’s disruption to the traditional banking network. To meet unfulfilled needs from online and mobile banking, these future branches may be more experiential, advice-based, or technology-focused. Therefore, they will require staff with different skill sets than today. These future employees will ensure customers have positive in-branch experiences and are vital to the success of a branch design transformation. Not only do they directly interact with customers, they shape the culture and atmosphere of a branch. The following skills are valuable for employees today, but are likely to become even more so in the future as the role of the branch shifts.
1) People Skills
In the future, the branch may become the channel to visit for a more human interaction and face-to-face communication, and digital channels will be used for more transactional tasks. In this scenario, strong people skills will be very important. Friendliness, approachability, and sensitivity will be key. Employees that can read people well and understand their needs can offer a better experience. Well-developed listening and communication skills will also be beneficial.
2) Customer Centricity
Employees that are able to focus on each customer’s unique needs will be better suited to meet the increasing demand for personalized and custom experiences. Customers today expect to be treated like an individual, which is a trend that is likely to continue into the future. Each person’s preferences and needs are often very different. For example, some bank clients like digital over in-person interaction or vice versa. Each customer also varies in their financial knowledge, ideal level of engagement with their financial institution, and financial goals. Client recognition and relationship building are important as well. Design choices within the branch (such as flexible spaces to accommodate different privacy needs) and custom messaging can help make each customer feel valued as an individual, but it is ultimately up to the staff to ensure that these tools are used effectively.
3) Advisory Ability
Advice-driven bank branch strategies are very likely to emerge to provide added value within the branch and meet the demand for financial advice. In these branches, there will be a need for more private one-on-one consultations. Therefore, advisory skills and expert financial knowledge will help employees succeed in a branch that is more focused on providing advice. Addressing each customer’s needs while gaining their trust will be important in this role.
4) Specialist Knowledge
In an advice-based bank branch, specialist financial knowledge will be required to provide accurate and helpful advice for specific banking needs, such as mortgages and wealth management. Those with specialist knowledge can provide private consultations.
5) Generalist Ability
In a more front-of-the-line role, staff that have a wide breadth of knowledge are also valuable so that they can identify and resolve issues without too much handover to specialists.
6) Adaptability & Teamwork
Adaptability is a key trait as the role of the branch transforms and goes through a period of transition and innovation. Roles may become less defined as staff adjust to new service models. Teamwork is always important, but it is especially vital in times of change to ensure that employees work together to deliver positive experiences. Employee engagement programs can also help align employee efforts.
7) Digital Educator
If banks continue to focus on digital channels, there will be a growing need to learn how to use them. Digital support and workshops in branches will help customers improve their skills and answer their questions.
8) Technology Management
With more technology in branches, staff will also need to be fluent in its use and know how to resolve issues.
9) Innovation Management
An employee that is able to bring new ideas to their workplace, build partnerships with start-ups and fintech, and handle quickly changing environments would be valuable assets to future branches that are focused on innovation.
10) Engagement in Social Causes
Another scenario for a branch of the future is one that prioritizes social responsibility and community. This model brings added value to the branch channel. Branches may evolve into local community hubs, catalysts for social change, and champions of environmental responsibility. An employee that appreciates social responsibility and is often actively engaged in making change and creating a sense of community would be a good fit to work for a bank that places value on these initiatives.
These ten traits and skills are likely to be important attributes for future bank branch employees. Digital technology has eliminated some teller jobs, but it may be creating new roles as well as branches strive to provide added value. This added value may come in the form of engaging experiences, financial advice, a community focus, social responsibility, education, or customization and will require talented professionals to deliver it. Attracting this type of employee talent is another challenge. According to Ernst & Young, by 2025 Millennials (a demographic with a unique set of values) will make up 72% of the global workforce. Thinking now about strategies to train or hire people with these skills will better prepare for the future.