First Internet Bank, Key, Grasshopper: Banks are facing talent shortages

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Beyond technical debt, talent is the biggest obstacle to bank modernization, executives said at Bank Innovation Build.

On a panel about designing the bank of the future, participants discussed how banks can keep up with consumer-facing tech companies like Amazon and Shopify. Jamie Warder, head of digital at KeyBank, said the competencies needed at big banks are no different than the skills needed in every industry. In effect, banks aren’t competing with each other but with large tech firms and startups.

“If you’re making paint or if you’re making devices like Apple, you need design. You need great engineers. You need data scientists,” Warder said. “The competition for terrific talent and those progressive competencies is going up and not down. I think that’s going to be the challenge for us all.”

David Becker, CEO of Fishers, Ind.-based First Internet Bank, explained it’s important to take in new ideas from young employees and interns. As part of First Internet Bank’s internship program, interns are asked to frame proposals for senior management for changes at the bank. Often, those suggestions result in actionable changes at the bank, he said. In addition, the bank looks to the pool of interns as future recruits.

“It’s a way of infusing our organization with that constant thought of reinvention and not letting complacency get ahead of you,” Becker said. 

After the panel, Becker spoke with Bank Innovation about finding good talent in Fishers, Ind., the suburb outside Indianapolis where First Internet Bank is headquartered. According to Becker, local universities make or break the local talent. 

Meanwhile, Judith Erwin, CEO of Grasshopper Bank, stressed that, regardless of talent, the culture of a bank will affect customer experience. “Most banks are sales-driven,” she said. “That creates behaviors that we read in the press all the time that aren’t necessarily on behalf of the clients.”