As banks confront a host of challenges and disruptive forces heading into 2024 and beyond, there’s one foundational area that will remain pivotal to success: the ability to attract, retain, manage and grow talent. While emerging technologies like generative artificial intelligence (AI) and process automation are poised to transform certain aspects of the industry, that doesn’t mean the role of humans in banking is diminished.

In today’s environment, customers expect – and rely on —banks to look out for their needs and identify opportunities. If anything, there are critical areas where talented, committed team members will play an even more important role as key differentiators for a bank, driving greater loyalty and wallet share and helping win new customers.

Shifting Mindsets to Deliver Greater Value
An institution’s value proposition always comes down to the people — people who can communicate and collaborate effectively and deliver meaningful value from the customer’s perspective. Both in business and retail banking, products and loans are commodities. It’s the bankers who are the differentiators. They’re the ones who have the power to create a brand customers trust and believe in.

Bankers must have a genuine desire to build trusted customer partnerships and deliver value in support of their customers’ short- and longer-term needs. That requires a shift from a product-focused mindset to one that is customer-focused.

Product knowledge is important, but providing information and answering simple questions doesn’t create differentiating value. While skills are important, acquiring new customers often requires a prospecting discipline and mindset outside of many bankers’ comfort zones. If they lack confidence or balk at being in a sales role, or if they aren’t committed to the activities needed to generate greater value for customers, it won’t matter that they know what they’re supposed to do; they still won’t do it.

You’ve probably seen scenarios like this before. Maybe the banker isn’t knocking on enough new doors, or a customer isn’t doing as much business with the bank as you think they should.  Often, it comes down to having the courage to ask, and for many bankers, this is a big hurdle – a shift from what they’re used to doing and what they’ve been measured against in the past.

The word mindset is critical here. Unless the banker believes that they have what it takes to create value for their customers, all the skills and knowledge in the world aren’t enough. The good news is, mindsets aren’t fixed. But most people need added awareness, development and support to make the change.

Great Coaches Inspire Great Bankers
To continually adapt, innovate and compete, banks must keep good people. To keep good people, they need to invest in coaching and development. Coaching can help bankers build both the skills and the will — the mindset — to be truly customer-focused and value-driven.

This mindset shift starts at the top. Too many managers have the wrong view of coaching. They see it as a corrective action, an opportunity to tell people what they’re doing wrong. This shuts people down and stymies their growth. They become less willing to step outside their comfort zones or make changes because they’re worried about being punished.

Effective coaching builds confidence through positive reinforcement and recognition. By seeing more potential in a person than that individual might see in themselves, coaches can unlock greater achievement drive and motivation. A good coach can help people identify clear goals, discover what’s holding them back, tap into their purpose and shift their view of what’s possible for them to achieve. In other words, strong coaches build trust, which in turn encourages bankers to do more, for themselves and their customers.

While there are situations where customers prefer a transactional, non-human buying experience, there are also huge opportunities for banks and bankers who can create the human connection and interaction that customers desire. People want to buy from people, especially when they believe that the banker is trustworthy and has their best interests at heart.

In its most recent banking and capital markets outlook, Deloitte emphasized the need to empower bankers so that they’re equipped to advise customers effectively. That’s especially true in an environment of uncertainty and volatility. Knowledge and information are important, but the personal connections and relationships a banker brings to the table are the real differentiators. Make sure managers are helping their employees develop both the skill and the will to take on these responsibilities.


Donna Horrigan

VP, Client Development

Donna Horrigan has a passion for helping banks to drive customer acquisition and loyalty through performance improvement learning solutions. For over 25 years as a sales professional, leader, collaborator and trusted advisor specializing in organizational change and long-term improvement she has been a steadfast client advocate. Donna brings passion and infectious enthusiasm to all her client engagements.


Brian Snader

VP, Client Development

For over 15 years Brian Snader has brought his passion for engaging banking clients to achieve their desired performance and business outcomes by differentiating on human interactions – going beyond traditional, reactive customer service and anticipating customer needs and solving problems by viewing selling as a higher level of customer service.