72% of senior bank executives report skills shortages as competition for talent in non-traditional banking roles intensifies – new BPFI survey
Growing opportunities for graduates in emerging banking roles including AI, data analytics and sustainable finance
Monday 4th December 2023 – Some 72% of senior bank executives have reported that they are experiencing, or expect to experience, skill shortages in Ireland, as competition for talent in non-traditional banking roles intensifies, according to a new survey published today by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI). The BPFI Skills Survey 2023, which provides insights from senior retail and international bank executives in Ireland, indicates that banks are experiencing difficulties in accessing talent in key areas such as digital skills, regulatory and compliance and risk management.
The survey shows that 36% of respondents identified skill gaps in digital skills, including data analytics and artificial intelligence, as well as in the area of regulatory and compliance. This was most evident among international banks with 45% of respondents noting difficulties accessing talent in those areas. In contrast, only 14% of respondents noted challenges accessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) or sustainable finance skills, which demonstrates the substantial progress made by banks in gearing up to address these issues in recent years.
Other key findings from the survey show:
- One in four respondents highlighted difficulties accessing risk management skills, mainly in retail banking, where 28% noted skills shortages.
- Some 27% of international banking respondents noted challenges accessing corporate banking and treasury skills, a key aspect of international banking.
- More than half (58%) of respondents said they would usually address skills gaps by hiring new employees with those skills, while 22% would recruit graduates or apprentices and train them.
- A quarter of respondents cited upskilling or reskilling existing staff as their staff management priority.
- Staff training is also used to react to skills gaps, with about 44% of respondents saying they would usually respond to skill shortages by upskilling or retraining current employees.
Speaking on the publication of the survey Brian Hayes, Chief Executive, BPFI stated: “Today’s BPFI skills survey reveals that the majority of senior bank executives in Ireland are experiencing difficulties accessing talent, with our members identifying digital skills, regulatory and compliance and risk management as key areas where they have faced challenges filling roles. The findings also signal that competition for key talent is likely to intensify especially for non-traditional banking roles such as IT, with rising demand for technical skills such as data scientists, analysts, programmers, as well as specialised areas such as AI and ESG issues.”
“Having said that, although there are skill shortages for many roles in the industry, it is important to note that the overall talent pool in Ireland is seen as an advantage internationally. We can see from the findings that banks are committed to upskilling or re-skilling existing staff and have invested substantially in staff training, with training costs accounting for about 4% of average labour costs in financial services, according to the latest CSO data.”
“Banks in Ireland attract a high number of college graduates, with 15.4% of 2022 honours degree graduates working in financial, insurance and real estate activities a year later, according to the Higher Education Authority. Given that there was a vacancy rate of 2.5% in these areas in Q2 2023, almost double the rate of 1.1% for all private sectors according to the CSO, and with the skills composition within banks evolving rapidly, there will likely be growing opportunities for graduates in non-traditional banking roles including AI, data analytics and sustainable finance.”
Mr Hayes concluded: “The way people and businesses bank is changing, and with it, what it means to work in a bank will continue to change too. Attracting a broad range of talent will be central to the banks’ future growth and stability.”
The BPFI Skills Survey 2023 was conducted in September 2023 and includes responses from 36 senior retail and international bank executives in Ireland.
Note: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland. Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland, and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has over 125 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.