Sharpening Your Competitive Edge

Comp-WP-21.pngBanks have long understood the important contribution that people and culture make when it comes to the financial success of their organizations. But a pandemic that forced the U.S. economy from business-as-usual to work from home threatens that foundation. Now, companies across the country — including banks — may be facing a talent crisis.

MVB Financial Corp. — a $2.7 billion financial holding company in Fairmont, West Virginia — already had employees working outside its physical footprint in West Virginia and Virginia when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. “We really stress on the communication side, making sure we’re staying connected to the team,” says Don Robinson, MVB’s chief financial officer. The communication strategy includes brief daily huddles with direct reports, monthly bank-wide meetings featuring key executives — all virtual, of course — and a quarterly “Ask Mazza” session with CEO Larry Mazza. “He spends as much time as necessary to make sure all the questions are exhausted,” says Robinson.

More than 80% of the executives and directors responding to Bank Director’s 2021 Compensation Survey say their bank introduced or expanded remote work in 2020. Newcleus Compensation Advisors sponsored the survey.

Some bank leaders welcome a return to normal, in-person operations. Employees at JPMorgan Chase & Co. were expected to report back starting July 6, though that varied by location. “We want people back to work,” Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon told The Wall Street Journal in May, citing remote work’s negative impact on idea generation and talent development. He sounded practically euphoric about interacting in-person with employees and clients on a recent trip to California. “I’m about to cancel all my Zoom meetings … I’m done with it.”

But do workers want to come back to the office? “Employees have discovered that there’s more to life than work,” says Flynt Gallagher, president of Newcleus Compensation Advisors. He expects competition for talent to remain a key challenge for financial institutions and the broader economy heading into 2022 and beyond. Banks will wrestle with demands for flexibility, as well as a greater focus on social issues. And boards will need to ensure they’re appropriately compensating the CEO and top executives as they grapple with these competitive pressures.

To read more about competing for talent and measuring CEO performance, read the white paper.

To view the full survey results, click here.