Box ticking body shops and bank human resources staff who can’t see past checklists of so-called hard skills for technology are under fire from senior management at the ANZ bank, as the institution continues on its mass agile culture push to stay ahead of platforms like Google.
Charles Wachira, an associate director for ANZ’s Institutional arm, says the people that recruit into banks must face reality that many of the roles that have traditionally existed in institutions will be superseded by “radically new competition” that will fundamentally change what it means to be a bank employee.
“A lot of HR departments and hiring managers are still recruiting for skills they need today, rather than those that will drive their success in future,” Wachira said on ANZ’s corporate blog BlueNotes.
“Banking is going to change. The threat of disintermediation by non-bank competitors is real, the shift to digital is happening, artificial intelligence will reimagine customer interactions.”
Wachira’s comments encapsulate a growing frustration across increasingly tech-centric enterprises that although HR departments are proficient at inserting buzzwords like agile and digital into slide decks, they remain largely clueless about the real tech and development skills needed to deliver change and transformation projects.
“It is notable within the skills expected to have declining demand by 2022 there are many still included in job descriptions today,” Wachira says, citing a World Economic Forum report that identified “reluctance to take risks and to challenge vested interests and long-established structures”.
The highly cyclical nature of technology hiring in banks, combined with swings towards and away from offshoring, outsourcing and returning to insourcing literally tens of thousands of staff a year, means that the financial services industry is more exposed than others to labour pressures.
While most Australian banks are now headlong into digital transformation pushes ahead of the Open Banking regime, many have been caught flat footed in terms of hiring key tech staff because HR divisions simply missed shifts in technology – like AI – or failed to understand their implications.
Wachira says questions need to be asked of the HR department if things are to change.
“Are recruitment processes put in place in the pre-AI era still going to identify the most appropriate candidates to ensure the company has people with the skills it requires to navigate the coming challenges?” he asks.
“Ultimately there will be winners and losers from the coming changes,” Wachira cautions.
“The challenge for employees and companies (including banks) is to ensure they are highly adaptable, have the relevant skills and are willing and able to move faster than the competition in responding to the changing operating environment.”
Human Resources departments chasing fashionable memes instead of knuckling down on daggy tech? Who would have thought it…