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Banks compete against a slew of entities to retain top employees

Banks nationwide face multiple challenges in a booming market.

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  • | 7:27 a.m. June 26, 2021
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Banks nationwide have seen a flurry of business activity during the pandemic. That goes from seven-day workweeks in the April-May 2020 PPP loan surge to more recently working with the rush of homebuyers in the booming residential market.

All that work has rapidly changed how banks find and retain employees, according to a new report from Bank Director magazine. More than 40% of banks, the survey found, have increased payrolls so far in 2021, with respondents identifying commercial and mortgage lending as key growth areas, followed by technology. One core challenge in employment: staving off the growth in non-bank financial services entities and fintech companies also seeking new employees.

“Talent forms the foundation of any organization’s success, and banks proved to be stable employers during uncertain times,” Bank Director Vice President of Research Emily McCormick says in a statement. "But given the industry's low unemployment rate, coupled with specific needs for highly-skilled employees, some financial institutions could find themselves challenged to attract and retain the employees they need." 

The survey, conducted in conjunction with Newcleus Compensation Advisors, includes responses from some 250 independent directors, chief executives, human resources officers and other senior executives of U.S. banks below $50 billion in assets. Results include:

• More than eight of 10 banks, 82%, expanded or introduced remote work options in response to the pandemic;

• Nearly two-thirds, 62%, awarded bonuses tied to PPP loans, primarily to lenders and loan production staff;

• Tying compensation to performance (43%) and managing compensation and benefit costs (37%) remain the top two compensation challenges;

• More than one-third, 38%, believe remote work has had a positive effect on the bank’s culture, while 39% believe it’s had no impact;

• More than one-quarter of respondents say their bank has adjusted incentive plan goals for commercial lenders, anticipating more demand.






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