Industry must upskill to keep up with developments in tech: Bankers

State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Dinesh Khara said that the country’s largest lender is always in the process of augmenting its capabilities across its verticals, especially in terms of reacting to customer requirements.

bankers at Modern BFSI Summit
Zarin Daruwala, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, India said that the rising demand for tech talent has resulted in higher attrition in the technology vertical.

The banking sector must keep pace with the level of technological developments that have turned integral to the sector and upskilling bankers is an integral part of that process, top bankers said during a panel discussion at financialexpress.com’s Modern BFSI Summit.

State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Dinesh Khara said that the country’s largest lender is always in the process of augmenting its capabilities across its verticals, especially in terms of reacting to customer requirements. At the same time, the level of technological and analytics experience across the industry is certainly short, and this poses a challenge, Khara observed. 

“For a bank of our size, we have to have our core strength available to enable us to run the show. That is something we started working on and we have created a cadre formed of people from within the bank and we are also upskilling them,” Khara said, adding that SBI is making the best of the training infrastructure available within the industry.

Zarin Daruwala, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, India said that the rising demand for tech talent has resulted in higher attrition in the technology vertical. Attrition has risen in some other niche areas as well. ”Training and reskilling is an ongoing process. That must be embedded in the whole work culture,” she said. The bank does a good deal of in-house training for its employees to upgrade their skill sets, now that the ecosystem is changing very rapidly for the bank. “We also have training programmes for freshers who come in to get them ready on the job,” she added.

Bandhan Bank managing director & CEO Chandra Shekhar Ghosh observed that spending on training must be seen not as a cost, but as an investment. Capacity building for future development is an exercise for which banks must set aside a share of their balance sheets as also for future development, he said. 

Ghosh pointed to the growing importance of digitisation in the backdrop of the pandemic and the links established thereof between the banking and information technology (IT) industries. The two large players in the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) ecosystem, for instance, are now taking place through two non-bank organisations who have tapped into talent from the banking industry. Demand for such trained personnel will only increase, he said.

“Earlier the banking industry was working on the physical mode, now it is both physical and digital. So skill upgradation must also keep pace with that. The banking industry will have to continuously work on that; this is not a one-time job,” Ghosh said.

“South Indian Bank has been working to be at the forefront of technological enhancements to live up to its brand positioning of ‘trust and technology”, said MD & CEO Murali Ramakrishnan. “One advantage we have as a bank is a very young workforce; the average age of our employees is 32 years. It’s very natural for them to look at everything with fresh eyes from a technology perspectives,” he said. The bank has received a large set of suggestions from its workforce across verticals about doing things more efficiently and in a systematised manner, Ramakrishnan added.

Even as they are faced with rapid changes in technology, banks also stand to benefit from a growing talent pool, said Sonali Kulkarni, managing director – financial services, Accenture India. “The change that got accelerated over the last couple of years in terms of various initiatives across industries has placed the focus on getting the right digitally skilled employees or people. Also, given the fact that we’ve moved to a hybrid work scenario, the traditional pockets of talent have also changed,” she said.

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