Banking and bank examining combine two key inputs: technology and people. Ensuring that an organization keeps up to date on technology is clearly important and only grows in significance over time. But recruiting and retaining skilled individuals is even more critical to the future success of community banks and bank supervisors.
Two recent observations suggest some promise in attracting a future generation of examiners and bankers.
- CNNMoney recently listed the 100 best jobs in America. Bank examiners came in at number 18. The list noted the critical role that examiners play on behalf of the public.
- I had the privilege of spending time with faculty, students and bankers associated with Northern State University’s Banking and Financial Services department in mid-November. I heard faculty and bankers talk compellingly about challenging and engaging careers at community banks. Both commercial loan officer and banking relationship manager made the CCNMoney list as well.
I readily accept the good news!
I also know that managers at banks and bank supervisors face real challenges in finding the new staff they need. Bankers routinely tell me of hurdles in recruitment. Sometimes they cite location, particularly for banks situated in rural parts of the Ninth District. Other bankers note their need for specialized, hard-to-find skills. Finally, many bankers argue that new regulations and more intense supervision make their jobs less enjoyable; a few even report some difficulty in recommending the job to newcomers.
Supervisors have a series of recruitment and retention challenges as well. Travel is a perennial difficulty for examiners. Private sector demand for examiners is currently high. Public criticism of bank supervision increased during the financial crisis and after as well.
Certainly banks and bank supervisors face some distinct staffing challenges. Some of the challenges and potential solutions, however, strike me as having common ground, and I conclude with a discussion of three.
First, both supervisors and banks in the Ninth District need a steady flow of qualified staff. Bankers and supervisors have common cause in ensuring that adequate training, both school-based and on-the-job, exists. We also have an interest in ensuring that training programs turn out candidates who want to remain in all parts of the Ninth District. Where such education does not exist at the level needed, we should work together to help appropriately support it.
Second, we both need to explain what our professions have to offer. Community bank examiners often highlight the variety of tasks they face and the opportunity to have a positive influence when explaining what they like about their jobs. Certainly both community bankers and supervisors make major contributions to society. We should feature these aspects of the job prominently.
Finally, both supervisors and bankers have a shared interest in having an appropriate regulatory and supervisory regime. Such a framework protects the interests of the public while ensuring that the benefits associated with protecting the public do not outweigh the costs. Maintaining an appropriate balance in this regard will continue to attract staff to both community banks and supervisory agencies. Comments by bankers on regulatory proposals, for example, are critical to achieving that balance; the revisions made to Basel III in response to banker feedback demonstrate the value of banker feedback.