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Develop a workforce strategy for future success

To address industry changes, banks and credit unions need the right people. Insightful data on skills gaps, diversity and more will help them build that team.


The world is changing fast—and in order to stay ahead of the competition, financial institutions must have a bold and agile set of people strategies to guide decision-making within the context of many unknowns.

What should a robust set of strategies for the 2020s look like at banks and credit unions? Start by brainstorming a list of business questions around ongoing changes in the financial industry and in the larger economy. It may sound simplistic, but when you start by formulating the right questions, you reframe the way you think about your people data.

If you’re one of the 65% banks that have improved your technological capabilities as a direct response to the pandemic, your list of questions might include things like:

  • What skills will our new online and mobile banking technologies require, and where are the skills gaps within our workforce?
  • What legacy roles exist in which teams, and what is the headcount of these roles?
  • Which employees in legacy roles should be reskilled to fit the firm’s changing needs?

Or, like many U.S. organizations across all sectors, reaffirming your commitment to equity and inclusivity is at the top of your priority list for the 2020s. Some of the questions on your list, in this case, might be:

  • What is the demographic makeup of our internal succession pipeline? How many senior leaders are projected to be people of color and/or women within the next five years?
  • How can we mitigate the current and future risk of unintended discriminatory behavior?
  • Are we prepared to quickly and accurately answer complicated personnel data requests from both internal and external stakeholders?

The possible scenarios are endless—perhaps you see a potential merger or acquisition on the horizon, or maybe you have experienced bad press and want to restore the confidence of people both inside and outside of your organization. Whatever is going on, many of the answers for building a successful 2020s strategy can be found within your people data—but only if you start with the right cornerstone questions.

Moving from questions to actions

Once you have your cornerstone questions down, consider implementing a modern people analytics solution—one purpose-built to take all of your different workforce datasets and analyze them against your questions to generate reliable, actionable insights.

The right application should also be built for the iterative asking of questions. For instance, if you want to see what percentage of internal promotions to people manager roles are given to employees of color, you’ll want to re-run this query often over the course of many months, or even years, to track your company’s progress.

Perhaps you design a management training program to expand your internal succession pipeline and specifically focus on developing the skill sets of employees of color who are star performers. You’ll want to ask questions of your data to analyze the effects of this new program on management demographics over time. These new question sets will differ from your original questions around the representation of employees of color in management.

People data is complicated by nature, so financial firms may want to implement solutions that offer simple analytics and top-notch data security. They may also want guided insights, which makes the data analysis accessible to all business users, not just technical analysts. This way, analyst resources are spent on true analysis of the data. Your firm’s managers can self-serve insights at the level they’ve been granted access, without needing to call on analysts for support.

Financial services leaders should weigh continuing to invest in operational systems of records, or shift toward solutions that deliver insights for strategic excellence. While the former is important within any organization, the business world is evolving, and many firms are missing the opportunity to outperform by adopting the next generation of analytics solutions.

For firms that dedicate time and effort to developing a powerful people analytics strategy based on strong cornerstone questions, this decade will offer enormous opportunity. An effective people analytics solution should result in better questions, better answers and, ultimately, the tools for better decision-making.

Jan Schwarz is co-founder and vice president of financial services of Visier.

Get insights on how to leverage and analyze the treasure troves of data your financial institution collects in the BAI Executive Report “Harnessing big data to personalize banking”