With financial giants gobbling up competitors and a wave of technological advances continuing to transform the industry, financial professionals hitting the job market should be prepared for a challenging environment. Jobs in the financial industry grew just 2.9 percent from 2000 to 2003, and the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show little significant improvement.
Calixto J. Garcia-Velez President, Citibank Florida Business Manager, Citibank North America, South Division
Today's financial executives are multi-tasking marketing gurus who can motivate employees as well as sell the myriad services of 21st century financial centers. Case in point: Calixto Garcia-Velez. Mr. Garcia-Velez handles Citigroup's community banking business. But you won't find him at a computer all day. "The majority of my time is spent on the people side, interviewing, coaching, and mentoring," says Mr. Garcia-Velez. "What drives me, what keeps me excited is seeing people achieve success." The challenge, he says, is incorporating Citigroup products and services into one business. It's a challenge he views as critical for future financial leaders. "I think management and executives will have to evolve," says Mr. Garcia-Velez. "The key to that is ... to stay current and up to date with all the changes in our industry."
Ana Duarte McCarthy Director, Global Workforce Diversity and College Relations, Citigroup
When it comes to diversity recruitment and retention, Citigroup has it by the numbers: The multinational financial institution employs 275,000 representatives in more than 100 countries, with 98 percent of its workers hired locally. At the helm of diversity initiatives is Ana Duarte McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy also manages a system of employee networks to help new recruits access senior management positions and navigate corporate culture. "We look for top talent from diverse pools," says Ms. McCarthy. "For people who can execute [and] that can also show us some results and innovation." Citigroup's multinational presence complements talented Hispanic employees. "We have products and services targeted at the Hispanic marketplace. Hispanic employees reflect this focus."
Industry experts say the current economic and job climate in the sector is due largely to the consolidation of behemoths including Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America, as well as corporate moves to streamline staffing in favor of online banking services. Still, financial institutions are expanding by looking to tap new and emerging markets, so there are pockets of strong growth.
"Banks are in an era of expansion right now," says Heather McElrath, spokeswoman for the American Banking Association. "[But] technology has improved the way the industry communicates and reduced the number of people needed to do it."
While consolidation and a growing shift to online services may be dampening job growth, they're also creating some high-paying opportunities in upper-management positions for candidates with graduate educations and technical expertise. A recent ABA survey of CEOs revealed the most difficult jobs currently to fill in the industry are those requiring professional credentials and a strong technology background, including compliance, trust, and information-technology officers. These positions, according to the Association of Financial Professionals, saw an average salary increase of 3.6 percent in 2004, compared with an average of 3.5 percent for all professional workers.
New employment opportunities are also benefiting Hispanic job candidates – about 8 percent of the financial workforce in 2003 – as multinational financial corporations such as Citigroup extend operations into Latin America and other countries and seek to recruit candidates who can deliver products to diverse markets.
"There are more people in the industry today than 15 years ago because there are so many more products and services being offered in the banking industry," says Calixto Garcia-Velez, president of Citibank Florida. "Having a culturally diverse workforce is critical to the success of our business."