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On the back of the the digital revolution and the new age of banking, Alice Fok, head of customer franchise, Citibank Singapore, emphasises that a future-ready mindset is as essential as forward-compatible skillsets.
In recent years, every aspect of the banking industry has been reshaped by the digital revolution. Mobile apps are today an indispensable part of a bank’s services. Partnerships with e-commerce players are forged to provide customers with the most relevant deals, while digital payment will only grow in importance as digital economies strive towards a cashless society.
As such, aspiring banking professionals are increasingly aware of the need for digital skills to bolster their chances of entering and succeeding in the industry. Some may pick up coding so they can take part in app development as mobile banking has become central to the digital consumer lifestyle. Others may choose to learn about data analytics as data becomes a more accessible resource to gain greater insight that can shape business strategy. Or perhaps some may believe that machine learning is the way to go when artificial intelligence is applied to the world of finance in the near future.
But while the skills of the future have been much discussed, there has been less focus on the mindset and culture needed to thrive in this new environment. A digital bank of the future needs employees with not only forward compatible skillsets but also a future-ready mindset. While different roles may require different skills to carry out, there are certain character traits that Citi looks for in potential employees.
The first attribute that is key to success is adaptability. Individuals new to banking or without any banking background are now joining an industry that has been transformed and is likely to continue evolving for the foreseeable future. Career pathways within financial institutions are more varied now and one may rotate across different functions within a relatively short span of time. As change continues apace, reskilling will become a periodic and constant challenge instead of a one-off task to surmount.
In other words, banking professionals need to embrace the concept of continuous learning, which will enable them to remain calm and optimistic in the face of uncertainty. This is especially important considering the speed at which disruption is occurring. Even those who are in digital roles today must be prepared to update their skills and knowledge regularly, as it is hard to predict what new technology might arise in the future to disrupt the industry once again.
The second characteristic that makes a difference is curiosity. Curiosity is what makes learning a joy. This year, Citi launched two training initiatives as part of ongoing efforts to raise the overall expertise of its staff: the core consumer banking skills training, accredited by the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF), and the Professional Conversion Programme, developed together with IBF and Workforce Singapore. Without a curious outlook, these opportunities to broaden one’s horizons may end up being seen as just another course to complete.
While curiosity is often seen as an innate trait, one’s sense of curiosity can actually be nurtured. Simply spending a short amount of time, say 15 minutes a day, exploring an unfamiliar topic can spark interest and ignite a natural momentum for learning. That is why the IBF-accredited core consumer banking training is structured in bite-sized modules designed to remove barriers in the pursuit of knowledge and new skills. Such incremental learning can lead to fresh perspectives that prompt banking professionals to challenge norms and boldly question if the way things have always been done is truly the best way.
Last but not least, empathy is a crucial quality that will enable an organisation to put the client in the centre of everything it does. Eliminating customers’ pain points requires empathy to see things from their points of view so as to design a customer journey that is as seamless as possible. Many future compatible skills such as user experience design and design thinking are grounded in genuine interest in understanding a customer’s needs.
Today’s banking employees understand that the new age of banking is not solely built on transformation by technology and innovation, but also defined by the need to possess boldness in their career journey, enabling them to thrive and grow in a changing landscape.
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