15-Minute Guide to Greater Effectiveness – Managers in Banking and Financial Services Firms

Banking and financial services sectors are on the upswing in many countries after months of making redundancies following the 2008 global financial crisis. Recruitment firms and head hunters are reporting more requests to fill mid-level and senior management roles and advertisement abound for many posts. After reducing the number of potential candidates for mid-and senior level roles in the past 18 months, firms are finding increasingly they are appointing many first time managers who are required to take up roles even before they have had adequate time to prepare to become their most effective. Such new managers include those managing large teams for the first time -more than 100 staff often in several locations and others having their very first role as a Team Leader.

For newly appointed managers -both at the mid and senior levels in banking and financial service firms, the challenge is how to be effective when faced with low morale among team members and fast moving changes in the regulatory landscape for financial services.

To be more effective in leading your team and make fewer mistakes in the first 100 days, here are six key questions you should ask of yourself. Allow yourself 1 – 2 minutes to reflect on each question, identify additional considerations and make a note of two possible options for which you will take action.

  1. What are my priority/most urgent tasks this week and what specifically will I be working on today? Better still plan for today for tomorrow, do not wait.
  2. What skills do I need for this role? This means you should consider skills you need to improve OR new ones I should learn so I can do a better job and be more effective?
  3. How do I overcome personal biases to work with people with various personalities? This may require you to adjust your communication style and apply your persuasive skills in a sensitive way.
  4. How will I deal with managing my friends who are now part of my team and those with whom I worked at the same level previously?
  5. Where are the greatest risks to attaining a high level of performance by everyone in my team? In the process, you may identify existing conflict in your team or those who are resisting change, either directly or in subversive manner.
  6. What can I do the make my team more prepared to deliver a higher level of performance for the business, especially in light of changes over the next year?

While you may not have all the answers before you start managing your team, through thinking about these issues you can begin find answers and exploring various options in the first 30 days of assuming your managerial role. The answers you provide to those questions would go a considerable way to helping you get greater depth of clarity in understanding the demands of your role as a team manager. This will enable you to better able to manage the talent in your team, improve your own personal effectiveness and raise your creditability as a manager.

Why The Financial Service Industry’s ‘Arbitration Boom’ Is Here To Stay

Arbitration has been gaining ground as the preferred method of dispute resolution in the financial services sector for years now and there is very little reason to think this trend will change. With the ongoing turmoil with government-funded programs such as Social Security, the continuing abandonment of old-style pensions and the resulting sharper focus on retirement and wealth-building, the financial services industry is itself experiencing a boom. The higher volume of clients and the larger volume of monies being managed inevitably brings a higher number of complaints and conflicts. The Financial Service Industry has found arbitration to be a superior choice to litigation for the same reasons as small business and individuals, and as a result arbitration is set to become even more common in the future.

The Benefits of Arbitration

The Financial Service Industry has found arbitration to be a better choice for three basic reasons:

Arbitration is Faster.

A recent international study has found that the average length of a civil trial is two and half years, while the average length of cases decided via arbitration is just 8.6 months. While there will always be exceptions to the rule, in general arbitration will always be a faster and more efficient solution.

Arbitration is More Affordable.

In part due to the speed of the process and in part due to the streamlined nature of the process – excluding much of the legal sparring that is involved in a lawsuit) – arbitration has less costs associated with the process than litigation. No matter what the actual costs of the arbitration process (the arbitrator’s fee, lawyers’ fees, room rental, etc.) the speed of resolution always results in real savings.

Arbitration is Friendlier.

The key word in ‘Financial Service’ is service. The industry has customers and clients, and as such has a stake in maintaining an amicable environment. Arbitration gives a sense of control to both parties and focuses on mutually satisfactory solutions to conflicts.

These three reasons point to a growing use of arbitration in the financial service industry. A final consideration is the cluttered state of court calendars; the delays between filing a lawsuit and actually getting a court date continue to widen, and even when a proceeding is begun continuances can sometimes interrupt court dates for weeks or months. This can only exacerbate what is already a painfully slow process and drive even reluctant parties to consider the speed and efficiency of the arbitration process.

Financial Services Sector Increasingly Relies On Bulk SMS

Banks and financial institution were one of the first industries to recognise the benefits of bulk SMS as a fast, efficient, low-cost and highly secure communication channel. Amongst banks, credit card companies, brokerage firms and insurance companies there has been a slow, but steady uptake of mobile solutions to meet the consumer requirements of this industry. Global players such as Citibank, HSBC, Visa and Crédit Agricole have all introduced mobile banking to the range of service they offer. And the trend by the financial service industry to expand its use of mobile technology look set to continue — by 2015 it is thought that there could as many as 1.6 trillion transactions.

Banks and financial institutions are using bulk SMS to create mobile campaigns to market new products, confirm transactions or as a reminder for renewals. For example, a bank may launch a mobile campaign to encourage savers to act before the end of tax year to make the most of their tax-free allowance — a great way to reach customers at a time-critical point. Better still would be a 2-way message mobile campaign which allows the recipient to reply to the message. Likewise an insurance company could use bulk SMS to create a mobile campaign to remind customers about their renewal dates or to update customers about a claim…they could even use it to confirm a visits by a claims assessor.

While some of us may be familiar with SMS alerts to let us know about our weekly bank balance, the potential for m-banking goes way beyond this these weekly updates. Financial institutions can introduce mobile solutions that give their customers the ability to manage to their finances whenever and wherever, by offering a complete range of m-banking services. This give them the flexibility to transfer money, check their balance or recent transactions, pay bills or make small value purchases – all through their mobile phone. Mobile technology also enables investors to get alerts on stock prices or do some trading while they are on the go. With security high on their agenda, credit card companies can use SMS technology to help fight fraud by sending a text message to confirm high purchases on cardholder’s accounts. As consumers become ever more reliant on their mobile phones, financial institutions that can capitalise upon mobile technology by offering a wide range of m-banking and mobile solutions should find themselves ahead of the game.

Financial service companies must take on board the fact that there has been a change in the way that consumers want to interact with their bank, as well as pay for goods and services. Increasingly, there has been a shift towards fast, convenient access to banking – doing away with the need to visit the bank. While in the developed world this has led to a rise in online banking, in the developing world there is a steady increase in the use of mobile solutions for banking. Here, financial institutions are enabling consumers to make transactions such as bill payments, person-to-person money transfers and to purchase small value goods with their mobile phone. Certainly in areas where banking is just for a wealthy few, more and more people are turning to their mobile phone to help manage their finances.

So, what we find is that due to consumer demand, many players within the financial service sector are now turning to SMS technology to provide flexible financial transactions for their clients. For this industry m-banking and mobile-based solutions are becoming mandatory, as an increasing number of customers now expect a mobile solution to help manage their finances. It will be up to financial institutions to meet these expectations if they want to retain a loyal customer base.