Reward to retain: How to keep banking & finance go-getters from jumping ship

By Cynthia Stuckey

On average, an associate investment banker in Singapore earns SG$86,811 per year, almost double the median gross yearly income of a typical worker who earns around SG$44,500. Yet salaries well above the norm don't seem to be enough to keep banking and finance employees in one place.

Employee turnover is an endemic problem that is probably more pronounced in banking and finance than any other industry, whether in Singapore or other financial hubs in Asia.

So how do managers in a cut-throat sector, already offering large salaries, effectively engage their staff to ensure they don't lose motivation, switch off, and reinvest their expertise with a competitor?

Engagement equals retention

Banking and finance managers need to make sure their staff are highly engaged. This means having a deep sense of ownership for the organisation and strong feelings of involvement, commitment, and absorption in one's work. It is this motivation and discretionary energy – the willingness to go above and beyond, which is vital in maintaining interest and commitment to an organisation.

A survey by Towers Perrin Global Workforce Study illustrates a strong correlation between employee engagement and retention. Fifty-one percent of engaged employees have no plans to leave and only 4% are actively seeking new employment.

In contrast, 28% of disengaged employees are on the hunt for another job, while only 15% are planning to stay put.

To attract and retain talent, employers are providing salary increments of 10% to 15%; but they also know that a fat paycheque is not enough. Hence, companies are investing in personal development programmes and trainings to ensure employees are getting what they want out of their job.

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to employee engagement. Increasingly, companies are taking a more strategic approach that aims to profile employees and offer the best match engagement plans for them.

Individualistic industries

Staff in individualistic industries, such as investment banking, tend to have an 'advancement' engagement profile as opposed to those working in the non-profit/charitable industry. Someone with a strong 'advancement profile' is typically more engaged in a job where they are 'getting ahead'.

For example, a job which gives scope to build a professional portfolio of skills and contacts as well as enabling progress in position and salary would be considered desirable to most people working in banking and finance. That said, don't dismiss the four other core engagement needs of Accomplishment, Recognition, Belonging, and Enjoyment in planning a balanced engagement needs approach.

Recognising this desire and building rewards that feed this need will raise engagement for these types of employees. For this reason, employers need to proactively communicate with staff so that they are aware of their expectations in terms of skill development, progression, and remuneration to create an engaging work environment.

To identify and support employees' expectations, organisations should define an overarching employee value proposition (EVP) that applies to all operations.

Employee value propositions

An EVP is a collective array of programs that an organisation offers in exchange for committed employment and defines the 'give and the get' between a company and its employees. When an EVP is clearly communicated, employees better appreciate the value of remaining with an organisation.

There have been a number of industry studies that identify 'higher salaries' as a motivator for people working in banking and finance. Organisations in the industry therefore cannot dismiss this and should look at creating attractive bonus schemes and financial incentives as part of their EVP.

But monetary incentives should not be the sole sweetener to motivate employees, nurture top performers, and retain staff; up-skilling, career progression, and challenging work are also important elements of the EVP mix.

In the end, being fully aware of staff expectations, wants and needs, and providing a range of developmental and monetary rewards, is imperative in preventing staff from becoming disengaged and contributing to the financial industry's rising turnover rates.

Get Asian Banking & Finance in your inbox
Since you're here...

...there are many ways you can work with us to advertise your company and connect to your customers. Our team can help you dight and create an advertising campaign, in print and digital, on this website and in print magazine.

We can also organize a real life or digital event for you and find thought leader speakers as well as industry leaders, who could be your potential partners, to join the event. We also run some awards programmes which give you an opportunity to be recognized for your achievements during the year and you can join this as a participant or a sponsor.

Let us help you drive your business forward with a good partnership!

Banking leaders admit that they are at risk of ceasing to exist in 5-10 years.
It creates a one-stop ecosystem that connects its users to EV car dealers.
It enables end-to-end visibility for both the user and their clients.
FIs role as the middleman is under threat as tech firms mull offering financial services.
The final order book saw that most demands come from the UK and EMEA.
Fund transfers from India to Singapore will only need mobile phone numbers.
The alliance, made up of 35 NGOs, noted the bank’s alleged lack of a public policy to reduce coal investments.
Banks’ credit costs are expected to undershoot their guidance.
BEA highlights hiring plans, whilst Citi says it will offer 100 types of wealth products under WM Connect.
Stress test shows NPL ratio likely to rise, but not to levels PBOC expects, the ratings agency said.
Lenders will have to reduce cross-border fees once CBDCs become more mainstream.
Users will be able to set spending limits and block cards, amongst other features.
And Mastercard bets on crypto with acquisition of CipherTrace.
He Xingxiang is suspected for “severe discipline and law violations.
Two local digital currency exchanges said that none of the top four banks would do business with them.