Banking on diversity in Southeast Asia’s most watched industry

BANKING AND FINANCE: In the modern world, HR is under increasing pressure to create workplaces that are warm, comfortable, welcoming, and free of conflict. That goal becomes even more important in a highly complex and regulated industry, such as banking and financial services. This can be a challenging exercise. 


Increasingly, employees gravitate toward workplaces where cultural awareness programmes, remote work opportunities, and cross-functional teams outweigh at least some levels of financial remuneration. The benefits of workplace diversity, team-building activities, and groups with multiple skill sets are numerous and several employers have ramped up their enthusiasm for change in his regard.

According to a recent workplace culture report by LinkedIn, four-fifths of Generation Y employees would consider a pay cut to work with a company that employed values commensurate with their own. This is in stark comparison with the Baby Boom generation, where only one in 10 would do the same. This statistic shows how the financial services industry must realign internal policies to comport with the changing focus of how future generations want to work.

Work-life balance is also a common refrain, where employees are looking for benefits like paid time off, parental leave, and health insurance as opposed to salary alone. 

Banking and financial HR professionals are also starting to realise the benefit of implementing cultural awareness programmes that endear both current and prospective employees.

Because of all this, facilitating agile ways of working with cross-functional teams has never been more critical for enhanced productivity. Banks are already realising the power of implementing multi-skilled product-development teams, culturally diverse hires, and teams who understand that digitalisation of the industry is imperative.

Banking and financial service HR managers who responded to  PwC’s 2020 Health and Wellbeing Touchstone Survey noted that diversity and inclusion had risen on their list of priorities, but attracting and retaining diverse talent was still a challenge.

Remote work is a diversity challenge too

Hybrid working models – which are now becoming increasingly mainstream in Southeast Asia – are another challenge. One recent survey discovered that just 7% of Asia’s workforce was willing to commit to a completely on-site work arrangement, a significant decrease in just a few short years of pandemic-inspired lockdowns. To ensure banking customers adapt to this new normal, these institutions need to step up efforts to develop and introduce new solutions to keep high-quality talent and attract new hires.

As not all jobs within the financial services industry are created equally in terms of their ability to work in-house or from home, HR leaders will need to support these new ways of working with the right tools and allow for all team members, regardless of their role, to access benefits that are equitable and fair.

The balance between working from home flexibility and the overall need of the company must be an ongoing conversation in HR teams across financial institutions in Southeast Asia. Depending on the role, remote working may not affect performance or present a genuine struggle.

This is an excerpt from the Future Proof: Overcoming HR Challenges in Banking and Finance

Access the full report here.

Related articles:

Rethinking retention and recruitment in Southeast Asia’s banks

Incentives are HR’s new currency in the finance industry

Training and development of banking professionals set to surge


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Chief of Staff Asia