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Older Workers Are the Solution to Banking's Talent Shortage

July 11th, 2019

older worker at computer

Employers' "obsession," as a MarketWatch article termed it, with hiring millennials and even younger digital natives is especially hurting the financial services industry, as the interest is unrequited.

A Deloitte Insights article says the financial institutions worldwide are facing two critical employment trends: "a pervasive talent gap and a boom in the number of baby boomers still employed or seeking employment in their workplaces."

Deloitte says the talent gap is "very big and growing." Citing a Korn Ferry study, Deloitte says the talent shortage could reach 3 million globally next year.

"That’s a huge gap, one already vexing many financial services firms as they search for the right talent to fill key roles," say the authors of the report.

Meanwhile, the industry's workforce is aging. For example, almost a third of insurance agents are over 65. Of the 8 banking and financial services occupations Deloitte looked at, all but bank tellers had at least a quarter of their workforce over the traditional retirement age. There are multiple reasons they stay employed, including inadequate retirement savings, a need to financially help their children and because they enjoy working.

Meanwhile, the Deloitte report says that rather than nurture and support their older workers, and recruit more, financial institutions are "focused on strategies to recruit and retain 'digital natives': millennial and Gen Z workers who grew up with the internet, mobile devices, and all things digital."

The problem is, these younger workers aren't eager for a career in finance. A 2017 survey suggests these workers may be marking time until they can find a job in their preferred sector, the tech industry. "With many millennial and Gen Z employees leaving almost as soon as they came, FI leaders should take a closer look at the growing population of baby boomers, who have been largely overlooked in the quest to fill key roles," the authors of the article say.

Declaring that boomers and their somewhat younger Gen X colleagues "possess skills, values, and tacit knowledge that elevate their importance for many FI roles," the article details the advantages these older workers have. "Boomers are largely good listeners and are often known to be more pragmatic and empathetic than some of their younger colleagues. Many have strong problem-solving, decision-making, and crisis management skills and are also good negotiators, thanks to their years of experience managing relationships with both clients and internal stakeholders."

The authors go on to puncture some of the "misconceptions" about older workers, suggesting ways to overcome them. They offer a number of specific steps financial institutions can take to hire and retain these workers, including addressing what they say is "an undercurrent of ageism [that] exists in many talent management practices."

"The task of revamping talent processes to prioritize baby boomers may seem daunting to FI talent leaders. But when faced with the converging trends of a formidable talent gap and a spike in the number of older employees, coupled with difficulty recruiting and retaining younger employees, it seems a logical and smart choice."

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