Chase Escalates The War For Talent in Retail Banking

More than ever, it is becoming difficult for organizations to attract and retain the highest level talent who understand the dynamics of digital banking transformation. Similar to what is seen in investment banking and technology, retail banks and fintech firms are increasingly starting to poach talent from their competition.

In an interview on the podcast, Banking Transformed, Daniel Schreiber, CEO of Lemonade Insurance stated, “The biggest threat to digital transformation is legacy leadership.” Research by the Digital Banking Report reinforces this statement, where financial institutions of all sizes ranked the lack of digital talent and “old-school” leadership as major barriers to digital banking transformation success.

In response to the need for digitally astute leadership that is in very short supply, there have been flurry of talent poaching that is relatively uncommon in retail banking. In March, Omer Ismail and David Stark, two key executives at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, joined Walmart’s fintech startup. The departure of Ismail was surprising because he was considered the chief architect of the consumer business at Marcus, and because he had just been named to head Goldman’s consumer bank only three months prior. It is believed that the experience of both of these executives in starting a fintech from scratch, and their history of building credit card partnerships with Apple and General Motors, was also coveted by Walmart.

One of the overarching reasons for escalating poaching of talent could be that organizations no longer need to limit recruiting to areas where they have physical locations. With more and more firms embracing a future of remote work, banks, credit unions and non-traditional financial firms can recruit talent from anywhere in the world. On the flip side, organizations also need to be wary of losing their best executives who no longer need to move to a new location to accept a new opportunity.

The quality of work/life balance has also become increasingly important as the most prized executives are in high demand and can set the terms for accepting a job. Some believe the loss of key executives at Marcus by Goldman Sachs was partially due to excessive pressures at the firm.

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Chase Bank Grabs Three Top Digital Executives

The poaching of Marcus by Goldman Sachs didn’t end there, however. Sonali Divilek, a managing director at Goldman, who had just been promoted to be the head of product at Marcus will be joining Chase’s consumer and community banking team this summer as the head of digital channels and products.

Sonali was recently interviewed by the Banking Transformed podcast, where she discussed the product development strategy at Marcus, the importance of innovation and customer experience improvement, and how a partnership mentality had helped Marcus become a force in the retail banking ecosystem. She also emphasized the importance of financial education as a tool to create trust and loyalty in a highly competitive banking ecosystem.

Divilek also guided the launch of Marcus Invest, a robo-advisory service that was introduced in February. Before joining Goldman, Divilek headed global charge products for American Express. According to Chase, as the head of digital channels and products, Sonali will ensure the quality, consistency and integrity of the end-to-end digital experience across customer channels including and the Chase mobile app.

In addition to Sonali Divilek, Chase also announced the addition of Kaaren Hanson as their chief design officer. Prior to joining Chase, Kaaren was an executive vice president of experience design and research at Wells Fargo. Kaaren also was a product design director at Facebook and spent over a decade at Intuit, where she led the company’s transformation to being a design-driven organization through an improved customer experience and innovation culture.

Finally, Sumit Gupta was named as the new head of customer experience and personalization for Chase, where he will oversee the end-to-end customer experience in all platforms, particularly for multi-product customers.. Gupta most recently was at Google, where he was the global director of digital marketing and e-commerce. Prior to Google, Sumit worked at IBM, where he led strategy and execution for AI-based solutions.

Why Should Banks Care About Poaching Talent?

With digital talent at the executive level limited, finding – and keeping – skilled executives provides a significant competitive advantage.

“We are thrilled to have Kaaren, Sumit and Sonali join our team,” stated Allison Beer, Chief Product Officer, Head of Customer Experience (CX) and Digital at Chase. “We believe our strong team is a result of our ability to recruit, develop and retain the best in the industry.”

The War for Talent Will Determine Winners (and Losers)

As consumers become more digital, the importance of digital transformation in financial services increases. This seismic shift in the business model for banking requires skilled employees and executives who can implement these digital changes. With speed to market being of the essence, projects can’t be put on hold because of the lack of internal (or external) skills. Unfortunately, the demand for qualified talent is creating shortages at all levels.

The future of work is dramatically changing the distribution of jobs based on skill levels. While lower skilled positions are increasingly being threatened by automation and technological advances, the demand for knowledge-based workers is expanding rapidly. It has been said that as many as 80% of the jobs that will be needed in 2030 don’t exist today. This is similar to the increase in positions that didn’t exist a decade ago, such as data analysts, digital marketers, business analysts, etc.

With many financial institutions not keeping up with digital transformation trends, the ability to cultivate the needed skills internally has become increasingly difficult. When banks and credit unions have acquired or trained digital talent, it has become more difficult to retain it.

Financial institutions must understand the changing employment marketplace and meet the needs of employees at all levels in a changing work environment. This includes training and other forms of knowledge enhancement as well as responding to new working models such as home office, flexible working hours and a higher attention to work-life balance.

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