Financial Marketers Desperate for Talent to Fill Data, Digital, Tech Roles

The skills needed in financial marketing departments today have exploded. Attendees at The Financial Brand Forum say these range from web design and data analytics, to digital product design and content marketing. Here are how some institutions are adding to marketing's skills base.

What constitutes ‘bank marketing’ keeps getting broader and deeper as channels expand, expectations grow, and digital capabilities create never-ending challenges. Bank and credit union marketing officers find themselves hiring for skills that didn’t exist five years ago, at a time when full employment can make it harder to find the very best candidates.

“In the last two years we went from having no internal resources for video production to having three dedicated team members for this role,” says Cathy Graham, SVP/Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer for Desert Financial Credit Union in Phoenix, Ariz. In 2016, Desert Financial produced no videos in-house — in 2018 staff produced 120.

“We’ve been able to leverage video to engage with current and potential members, to communicate important initiatives internally, and to reallocate the cost for video and outside production to other opportunities,” says Graham.

This is just a small part of the change Graham’s department is going through. Desert Financial is recruiting for a Director of Marketing Ops and Insights, who in turn will hire a Senior Marketing Analyst once they come aboard. Graham has begun looking for a Content Strategist and a Demand Generation Manager and down the road will look for a Marketing eCommerce Manager. Existing staff members have been promoted to Marketing Strategy Manager and Inbound Program Manager.

All this reflects a three-year transformation management undertook in Desert Financial’s marketing arm, building out talent, tech, and integration into the institution’s efforts.

“We are in Year One,” Graham says.

TAB Bank, represented at The Financial Brand Forum by Curt Queyrouze, President, is unusual in that it has been a branchless bank for its entire 21-year history. Even at this bank, which was a direct bank before the term existed, there’s been evolution in jobs.

“We have added positions in areas such as our Innovation Lab, customer experience, and voice of the customer sectors,” says Queyrouze.

While some executives interviewed by The Financial Brand say the strong job market has made hiring more challenging, others say they have been able to attract necessary talent. The latter includes Queyrouze, though he admits that the bank has had to bid higher for some positions than plans originally called for.

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“You Are So Not An Expert”

Recruitment for the more and more specialized posts institutions are adding to marketing functions grows trickier for some institutions because of inflated claims by job seekers.

“We are reviewing the entire traditional banking staff structure,” says Dennis Rhee, Chief Marketing Officer at First Financial Bank N.A. “The data analytics and digital positions are the most challenging jobs to fill. That’s because you can find a lot of people who say they are a specialists, but most are just posers.”

Finding the right candidates in those disciplines has become critical for Rhee because First Financial is working to become a more data-driven organization. He can’t afford to settle for beginners.

In some markets certain talent can be hard to come by because of competition from major-league companies.Smallercompanies. Smaller institutions can’t match the professional and monetary opportunities of such companies.

For example, Shaun Carson, Vice-President and Marketing Manager at Heritage Bank, Olympia, Wash., says the proximity of Seattle makes tech hiring a challenge.

“We’ve embarked on digital initiatives that require developers,” he explains, “so we are competing with the Amazons, Microsofts, Googles, and Facebooks there.”

While not a tech job, another position that is challenging Heritage is the post of Universal Teller. This reflects a recent staffing revamp for the bank, according to Carson, and finding the right kind of people to be adept at so many kinds of tasks can be harder than it would seem.

Like many attendees, Carson has a wish list of jobs he’d like to create and fill someday.

“Creating more engaging content through the use of video is on the list,” says Carson, “but budgets are limited and we haven’t discovered the most cost-effective and best mix of content yet.”

Getting Ahead on the Tech Curve

The list of positions that banks and credit unions will be hiring for continues to grow, including both positions directly in the sphere of Marketing and positions without which marketing staff won’t be able to get their jobs done.

Artificial intelligence is one example. “As a smaller community bank we are not quite there yet,” says Laura Wiegert, SVP/Marketing at Investors Community Bank, Manitowoc, Wis., “but down the road AI will be an integral part of any bank marketing program, especially as we strive for more personalization and creating unique customer journeys.”

There’s recognition, too, that the solution to the future of marketing lies not just in recruiting talent, but in developing talent already on hand.

“The newest positions that we have filled within our space are centered on the digital leadership and payments,” says Stacy DeLong, Vice President, Digital Strategy, Deere Employees Credit Union. “While new employees have to demonstrate an enhanced set of digital skills, we also have to provide opportunities for our current employees to expand their skills.”

Where Lack of Skills Can Really Hurt

The drive to find more recruits with a sales mentality continues in banking, according to marketers interviewed. But something that troubles John Hanley, SVP and Senior Director of Marketing at Kansas City’s Equity Bank is a shortfall in some fundamentals among the people he interviews for positions.

Hanley is looking for a new Project Manager, a Customer Analytics Manager, an Internal Communications Strategist, and more. He wants to see something beyond just professional training.

“I am more interested in the qualities of the people interviewing for new roles with us,” he explains. “That includes intellectual curiosity, resilience, emotional intelligence, and writing capability. I find these are lacking, and the trend is not generation specific.”

The opposite problem to needing more help, of course, is the unwanted “volunteer.” Marketers have only so many hands, so many dollars, and so many hours. In the “old” days of sending print work to typesetters and layout specialists or hiring professional photographers for stills and videos, staff didn’t try to supplant the professionals.

With sophisticated desktops and laptops and amazing cameras in smartphones, turning everyone into a “publisher” or “photographer,” centralized control of marketing effort can be more difficult.

One credit union marketer laments how technology has opened a Pandora’s box of marketing nightmares.

“There was a time when marketing was left up to the professionals and people didn’t step outside their job function,” says Gregory Mosby, Marketing Manager at the appropriately named Self-Help Federal Credit Union. “Today’s technology tools place publishing capabilities in the hands of everyone with an idea.”

The result, says Mosby, is branch managers and even front-line staff independently devising flyers for their locations.

“They typically fall outside of brand guidelines, and don’t include proper disclosure notices or compliance details,” says Mosby. “So we have 27 locations with the potential to flood their communities with flyers when they don’t feel the marketing team is giving them the support that they haven’t yet asked for or need.”

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