Every industry needs new faces and fresh ideas to stay relevant. For showy new industries like the startups of Silicon Valley, it’s easy to seduce brilliantly talented young people who want to make a change in their field. For well-established industries, it’s just as important to bring in that talent, but how does a long-standing industry like banking make the same appeal to new graduates? A group of Raleigh bankers is actually reaching out to young adults in North Carolina to give them an inside look at the banking industry, and showcase the many professional opportunities it offers for innovation and advancement.
The Young Banker Initiative
The Raleigh bankers founded the Young Bankers Initiative to partner younger bankers with local schools to teach financial literacy classes to their students. The goal is to focus on necessary skills that often fall by the wayside in today’s curricula, such as balancing checkbooks, understanding compound interest, and how to create and manage a realistic budget. It also connects students with the banking industry on a personal level that they might not have considered before.
They’ll gain a deeper understanding of how banking helps individuals keep their finances on track, while learning the financial skills they need to succeed in their own lives and strengthen the fabric of their community. Hopefully, this initiative will also be a draw for the industry, and eventually bring in the local talent that keeps the banking industry here in North Carolina fresh, innovative, and in touch with our communities.
While the initiative will certainly benefit the industry in the future, it will also accomplish a short-term goal. Local and regional banks are dedicated to their neighborhoods, which means they need servant-leaders who will work hard to help customers improve their lives. The Young Banker Initiative will help current leaders identify their successors: people who are willing to volunteer their time in order to build a better future for North Carolina.
Changing the Community, Changing Companies
The Young Bankers Initiative may lead to big changes for Raleigh banking firms. In the wake of the financial crisis, local banks have suffered because people conflated them with the big investment banks like AIG and Bank of America. They can fall prey to public misconceptions of the culture within the banking industry, even though local and regional banks work hard to serve the needs of local people. These banks see their mission as one of advocacy, outreach, education, and support. The Young Bankers Initiative is a concrete way to make their mission clear to the public.
The changing perception of bankers has also hampered recruiting efforts. Banks need to attract people who have the potential to be servant-leaders. If young adults believe these organizations are exclusively profit-driven and out of touch with the needs of the public, the best potential leaders will avoid careers in banking. North Carolina banks need potential employees to realize that bankers seek to help the communities in which they live.
That’s why the Young Bankers Initiative is such a brilliant, elegant solution to the problems that plague the industry. These banks are using service and outreach to form future leaders for their firms. This helps them pass on their vision of servant-leadership. Through their service, they’re also showing tomorrow’s college students that banking is a career that’s well-suited to compassionate, outgoing people who want to make a difference in their communities. They’re planting seeds that will one day bear fruit in the form of committed, service-oriented applicants for open jobs.
Increase Your Own Community Involvement
You may not be in an industry with public relations problems, but as a leader, you likely still face some of the same problems that the Raleigh bankers want to address with their new outreach program. Every leader struggles to pass on corporate values to the next generation of leaders. Every company must decide how to recruit employees who will grow into future leaders for the firm.
The Raleigh bankers have created an excellent plan for changing a corporate image and culture to embrace service and outreach. You can implement something similar in your own organization if you start by asking yourself the right questions:
Different businesses would answer these questions in different ways. For instance, a small community bank might answer, “We’re good at explaining financial matters to general audiences and helping people plan for their futures. We can offer this education to the larger community, especially students and the unemployed. We can serve them by giving them the financial skills they need to reach their goals. Teaching and working with the public will help bring our employees into contact with members of their community and teach them about the people they serve.”
Meanwhile, a regional restaurant chain might answer, “We’re great at feeding people delicious, nutritious meals. We can offer our services to local soup kitchens. Once or twice a month, we can donate materials, prepare a meal, and serve it. This will help our employees remember that everyone we serve, in and out of our restaurants, is a unique individual deserving of our attention. They can learn that serving food is about serving people.”
Develop Future Leaders in Your Organization
Through the Young Bankers Initiative, North Carolina bankers provide real value to students in the communities they serve, improving their odds of financial stability later in life. At the same time, they’re building relationships with the young leaders that may one day take the reigns of North Carolina’s banking industry. You and your employees have your own unique talents that can improve the public face of your company while nurturing great leaders within your organization. It’s time to create change by reaching out and serving your community.