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Are You Giving Employees What They Want? (And Other Conference Takeaways)

3 min read
Feb 16, 2023

Conference season is upon us once again! As always, I’ll be sharing insights from my travels, giving you a peek at the hottest topics, most noteworthy speakers, and what your peers are talking about. 

First up, the American Bankers Association Conference for Community Banks in Orlando Feb 11-13.

You may know what employees want, but you may not be giving it to them 

We all know what employees want. The problem is that the banking industry doesn’t seem to be giving it to them. 

That was the takeaway in a standing-room only session, Employee Retention: Addressing the “Great Resignation” and the War for Talent. The packed room at the Sunday afternoon session made it clear attracting and retaining talent remains a major challenge for community banks. 

Among the eye-opening statistics shared during the presentation: 

  • Nearly one in four Americans dreads going to work, according to Society of Human Resource Management Q3 2019 report The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture.  
  • Employee engagement is also down—its first decline in 10 years, according to Gallup. 

Optimizing talent and build a brag-worthy employee culture 

Leaders don’t just set strategy. They are also responsible for defining the culture. This is best accomplished with leaders who embrace empathy, integrity, and consciousness.  

Why? If you want employees who promote a workplace built on empathy, integrity, and consciousness, you need a leader who can recognize those qualities in employees and candidates. You can’t see in someone else what you can’t see in yourself.  

Asking someone who lacks empathy or integrity to identify empathetic or high integrity employees will not lead to success. They either won’t see those skillsets, or they won’t value them. Either way, it’s a loss to the bank’s culture. 

As a bank’s culture grows stronger, it becomes easier to find the right attract and retain employees that promote the desired culture. Until then banks may need to reimagine their entire approach to talent by looking at the big picture. 

It’s not about checking boxes. It’s about optimizing talent by: 

  • Identifying the competencies to sustain organizational culture (and any that are unique to the role). 
  • Proactively recruit and nurture diverse talent to match those competencies. It exists, but it’s not always easy to find.  
  • Rectifying compensation, development opportunity, mentorship gaps, and additional imbalances for people of color (POC) and other diverse groups. 
  • Bringing grace, empathy, and humanity to leadership behaviors and rewarding those who consistently practice them. 

Want to learn more about talent management challenges, and what to do about it? You might be interested in our whitepaper Employee Retention, Engagement and Productivity in the Era of Quiet Quitting: The Value of Engagement and Productivity Platforms at Financial Services Companies 

What Does the N in Ncontracts Stand for Anyway?

High dissatisfaction with core providers, but few banks are making a switch 

Another major talking point: the ABA’s survey on core providers. 

Satisfaction with core providers dropped 20 percent from 2020, according to a survey released at the conference. Only 47% of banks say they are extremely or very satisfied with their core providers compared to 59% in 2020. Another 42% said they were dissatisfied – a figure that rose to 62% among banks using one of the three main core providers.

Despite their unhappiness, just 21% of banks said they were thinking about switching providers. Those that are sticking with their current providers may want to negotiate more effectively the next time they renew their contracts. Service level agreements were a complaint at almost half of banks. They also were frustrated with implementation fees for working with third parties, upgrade charges and challenges accessing data.

Deciding whether to keep a core or undergo a time-consuming core conversion is a major strategic decision – one that needs to align with a financial institution’s strategic goals. It’s a topic that our CEO Michael Berman addresses in his book, The Upside of Risk, and a major issue for financial institutions going forward. 

Want best practices for negotiating a vendor contract? Check out our whitepaper How to Negotiate Bulletproof Vendor Contracts.



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