ABA Banking Journal - January/February 2016 - (Page 26)

FEATURE > HUMAN RESOURCES Train to Your Advantage Solid internal training programs can strengthen your bank and give it a competitive edge. BY JULIE KNUDSON s in other highly competitive industries, banks often find attracting good employees to be a challenge. This is particularly true for community banks in rural areas, where bringing talent into the organization from outside can be even more difficult. To ensure a reliable supply of strong team members, some banks are boosting their internal training efforts. The result is better retention, along with a competitive advantage over other nearby employers. Successful strategies start with commitment The comprehensive training program at FirstBank in Lakewood, Colo., provides the institution with most of its talent pool. Of the roughly 360 officers, John Ikard-a former ABA chairman and FirstBank Holding Company's president and CEO-says that all but perhaps a half dozen started with the bank as manager trainees. "We only hire at the entry level and promote from within," he explains. Exceptions are few, typically made for individuals in areas that require specific skill sets or expertise, such as IT or compliance. Even at the leadership level, the bank rarely fills positions by luring employees away from other competitors-the majority start their banking careers at FirstBank and train their way up. Each year, the institution hires somewhere between 50 and 60 manager trainees and immediately funnels them into the training process. It's definitely a different approach from other large financial institutions that may have good training programs but don't always make it a priority. "Many of the big banks don't spend a lot of time training," Ikard explains. "They spend their time going out there and trying to poach people from other banks." It's the reason he believes some bankers may have gotten a reputation for jumping from one 26 ABA BANKING JOURNAL | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 institution to another, something he says turns many small community bank customers off. Developing talent in-house also provides Ikard's team with a workforce more likely to choose bank locations that might otherwise be difficult to staff. With a branch in Aspen, for example, FirstBank has had to work through the issues associated with hiring in an area with a very high cost of living. "We have to pay quite a premium [for employees] to live in Aspen," Ikard explains. Similar challenges arose with the bank's branch in Palm Springs, Calif. "It wasn't perceived as a young person's community, so we had a bit of a time getting people to go to Palm Desert." By aggressively cultivating employees with a strong skill set and knowledge of the organization, Ikard says both situations have been resolved. "We have very strong groups in those branches now." Though Zions Bancorporation is in 11 states and has $54 billion in assets, LeeAnn Linderman, EVP of enterprise retail banking at the Salt Lake City-based institution, says that "we operate like community banks in each of our states." Existing

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - January/February 2016

President's View
Picture This
Economic Outlook
Community Engagement
Cover Story: Train To Your Advantage
Filling The Trust Gap
Banking In The Sweet Spot
Safe Banking, Savvy Seniors
Human Resources
Agricultural Banking
Board Matters
ABA Compliance Center Inbox
Legal Briefs
From The States
Corporate Social Responsibility
Index of Advertisers

ABA Banking Journal - January/February 2016