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Michael Page research in the banking community: Bankers seeking trust amid job insecurity

Amsterdam, 15 June 2015 - 87% of bankers think that regaining society’s trust will be the greatest challenge to the banking sector in the years ahead. At the same time, a quarter of all bank employees fear for their jobs, with over half regarding their employment as insecure.

Mischa Voogt, Managing Director of Michael Page Netherlands, comments: “Transparency, clarity and attention to customers are crucial to the sector’s recovery – a difficult task for bankers who are under constant pressure.”

The prevailing fear among employees in the banking sector of losing their jobs is a logical response, according to Voogt: “Nearly all banks have gone through substantial reorganisation in the past few years, cost-savings and automation being the most important drivers. So it’s not unreasonable for employees to feel insecure. Moreover, a lot of demands are placed on bank employees by their customers, the organisation and society as a whole. They’re under a lot of pressure.”

As a consequence, many bankers are evaluating the employment market: an overwhelming majority – 85% of respondents in Michael Page’s research – indicate that they are willing to consider new job opportunities.

Other sectors not welcoming bankers
However, it is noteworthy that only a small percentage of bank employees (17%) are looking outside the sector. Voogt say: “Of course, there are bankers who prefer to stay in the sector, but most are happy to move to a different field. However, experience has shown that transferring to another sector is difficult: many corporates outside the banking sector are not keen to hire bankers right now, so it is proving hard for bankers to make the switch. And culturally, the two environments are poles apart as well.”

More demand for risk & compliance specialists
To strengthen the sector’s image, government supervision has increased. Bankers say this negatively affects their work: 71% feel the sector is weighed down by too much regulation, supervision and surveillance. “Of course bankers understand that the outside world requires their activities to be more closely regulated,” Voogt explains. “They’re happy to comply, but it’s also another hoop to jump through and the sheer number of rules impedes effective corporate management.”

However, the new legislation and regulations also offer opportunities: “While the number of jobs for bankers declines, there is a growing demand for employees in risk & compliance, professionals who can enforce compliance with the legislation and advise the organisation on how to work effectively within the new framework of standards.”

Maximum bonus limit
One topic that nearly always resurfaces in discussions about the banking sector is the bonus culture. 37% of respondents indicate that they received a bonus in 2014.

“That looks like a lot,” says Voogt, “but in reality it’s not that high. In reality, the Netherlands does not have a bonus culture; we care more about job security and fixed salaries. 63% did not receive a bonus at all, and the overwhelming majority of bonuses involve a relatively small sum. Furthermore, it is apparent that most banking employees are remaining loyal to their employer despite cutbacks on bonuses.”

A recent remuneration law was approved, which will see the implementation of a maximum bonus limit of 20% of fixed salary for the entire financial sector by 1 January 2016 at the latest. In practice, only a small proportion of employees will be eligible for such a bonus.