Educating banks’ talent, a perspective


Bank Negara Malaysia’s Financial Sector Master Blueprint clearly identifies talent acquisition and development to be of the main challenges, and to ensure there is an adequate supply of skilled and educated talent to meet the projected growth rate of 6 times of GDP by 2020, educating the existing and future knowledge workforce is a must.

Banks in Malaysia are expected to devote a minimum of 2.5% of their gross payroll budgets to talent development, ensuring their workforce will have the knowledge and skills that will make them competitive and contributing to the high performance of banks.

The importance of having a well educated workforce is not only indispensable to the banks, the workforce themselves is aware of the need to obtain the level of proficiency to be above the threshold targets. Professional education has been one of the routes taken by bank professionals to ensure they have the relevant industry education.

The challenges of increased regulation and protecting public interest have recently become more necessary for the development of human capital development.  Education is not spared from the consequences of these trends.

One of the consequences is that knowledge including know-how and education and the application or interpretation skills have become critical factors to sustain competitiveness.  A well qualified workforce has now become the key towards a high value added knowledge based industry. The trend is unlikely to slow down given the increasing trend among central bankers to continue the convergence of regulatory requirements – BASEL III is one example. Banks are already putting in place a dynamic structure where they have people to disseminate process and report on key information. Predictably, good people with skills in risk management, compliance and corporate finance are now in demand.

Resulting from this is the need to relook the way banking education have been developed, and delivered. Attention is now focused on reforms to professional education curriculum. While there are programs being made mandatory, taking into account is the way roles in banks are being designed and managed. There are now specialisation in each of the banking streams, for instance wholesale banking, retail banking and investment banking have their own uniqueness, and differences. Within each stream there are the specialisations in sectors, customer segments and so on.

Aligning to this development means the curriculum to support talent development will shift from today’s focus on skills and certification to a more holistic talent development, where there is continuity in both professional developments and recognition to professional standard and qualifications. The curriculum design has to be robust enough to support the career pathways of banks as part of retention strategy, but also to be aligned to industry standards.

Enhanced curriculum will require support of infrastructures. It is unthinkable that a bank is not operating in an E environment. The e-learning technologies will use web based technologies for both teaching and learning. The ability to maximise the use of these technologies for learning will allow more opportunities for learners to connect with content, learn in a community with other learners.  The E platform will empower the younger workforce to construct their own meaning and digital identity. There is already a general shift from instructor-centred approaches to learning, to student-centred methods, which facilitate collaboration, participation and interactivity.

The vital role that quality-related research plays in sustaining the learning base, providing the knowledge to respond to emerging banking challenges, and supporting the next generation of banking professionals who will go on to deploy their banking skills in a multi-disciplined environment.

In each of the components there is also a need to embed ethical values in all education and training curriculum in all financial institutions. Embedding ethical component and values would raise consciousness and capacities of bank professionals, perhaps even shaping behaviours at all levels including the senior management.

In grappling with the issues of managing fresh challenges in managing talent, banks will find it necessary to ensure a more robust framework of ensuring their learning strategy is aligned to expectations of their knowledge based employees. Educating and recognising professionals in banks nonetheless necessary as responsible banks are accountable to the community they serve.

 In this context, it is necessary for banks to ensure public interests are protected through professional education and learning reflecting the values the banks espoused. In the final analysis, the value propositions are clear – changes in educating banks on education and ethics standards to protect the public interest are inevitable.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Photo credit: Flickr user GilmourKnotts



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