Industry Trends: Banking Sees Compensation Increases to Get Talent in the Door

While the banking industry may not be applicable to your area of recruiting, it’s always nice to see what other industries are doing to attract and retain talent. And according to a new survey, many banks are increasing salaries to attract and retain lower-level employees to keep them stick around, rather than losing them to different industries like retail and hospitality. 


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According to the Crowe 2018 Bank Compensation and Benefits Survey, in the past year median salaries for chief human resources officers increased more than 7%, while top retail banking officers’ median pay decreased more than 7%.
Crowe, a public accounting, consulting, and technology firm in the U.S. with offices around the world, conducted the 37th annual survey, which compiled data from 420 banks and shows salary and bonus benchmarks for 263 job positions as well as information on benefits, incentives, director compensation, and human resource practices.
“As banks rethink the way they operate branch networks, top retail banking positions seem to be decreasing in value,” said Timothy Reimink, a managing director in the Crowe financial services performance consulting group. “On the other hand, the upward shift in top human resource functions indicates that banks are putting a high priority on finding and retaining the right talent in this competitive labor market.”

Recruiting Millennials Becomes New Focus

In fact, recruiting and retaining Millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. population, is top of mind for many banks. More than half (51%) of the banks surveyed said retaining younger talent was either very challenging or somewhat challenging, but only 19% had developed a specific strategy for attracting and retaining them.
The most common issues respondents reported in attracting Millennials were compensation, job flexibility, and promotion opportunities. Reimink noted that banks with strategies in place that give Millennial candidates clear expectations of their roles and future growth opportunities are better suited for long-term success.

Pay Disparity Issues Are Being Addressed

This year’s survey asked institutions about their response to pay disparity between men and women. Forty-nine percent of institutions took action to address the rising issue of gender pay differences, with the most common action being an analysis of those differences. Other responses include maintaining a structured compensation guide, monitoring through an affirmative action plan and attending various training sessions and conferences.
Additionally, this year’s survey asked about the impact of the recent federal tax overhaul on bank pay practices. Nine percent reported that they adjusted base salaries, and 9% gave bonuses or one-time payments, in response to the new tax bill.

Employee Turnover Is Increasing

Employee turnover has increased significantly over the past 8 years. According to this year’s survey, officer turnover increased by 0.5% and nonofficer turnover increased more than 3% in 2018 alone.
“With the U.S. unemployment rate at a record low, employees have access to more variety and options for jobs,” said Patrick Cole, a specialist in Human Resources consulting for Crowe. “Officers likely have a lower turnover rate because they are more invested in the company and are incentivized to remain with their organization.”
“Additionally, larger institutions have seen higher turnover rates over the past year, which might be a result of greater difficulty with communication and employee engagement due to the size of their operations,” Cole adds.

Other Findings

Other key survey findings include:

  • CEO median salaries increased 0.7% since last year, for a compound 4.2% increase over the past 2 years. Reimink noted that changes to CEO compensation often align to bank profitability, so the limited increases reflect a stable environment for bank profits.
  • Chief information officer median salaries had an above-average 1-year increase of 6.2%, for a compound 11.9% increase over the past 2 years. As many banks evolve their focus from branches toward online banking, IT-related positions should continue to grow in importance.
  • Several lower-level positions saw higher-than-average annual increases in their median salaries, including entry-level tellers (5%), data entry/item processing clerks (5%), and new accounts representatives (4.5%). Reimink noted these percentage increases are likely the result of competition for talent within the banking industry and competition with other industries looking for entry-level talent, such as retail and technology.
  • Seventy-seven percent of respondents have a documented succession plan in place for CEO and executives, up from 63% last year. This increase suggests the growing importance of being prepared for the exit of executives as the Baby-Boomer generation nears retirement age, including having a smooth transition with transparent expectations.
  • Similarly, institutions with organized board member recruitment efforts rose from 39% reported in 2017 to 48% in 2018.