How Banks Are Managing Risks During the Pandemic

July 14th, 2023

This has been a challenging year for the finance industry. Financial establishments, such as banks, were forced to alter business procedures and operations with urgent immediacy when the crisis gained momentum. To do this meant a rise in uncertainty, as banks were forced to accept more risks.

Operational risk is associated with a failure in the operations of a financial institution, and can be traced back to failed or inadequate processes, management, or employees, or losses due to fraud or system failures. When wellness became a priority, banks had a sudden shift to a remote workforce, and operational resilience relied heavily on technology. Digital transformations which were originally planned to take several years happened in several weeks. This includes the launch of online banking capabilities so customers can manage account activities remotely. The adaptation of an omni-channel presence required banks to train staff in new capabilities, be they at the branch office, call center or operate online. Online work proficiency includes cybersecurity and cyber-hygiene. Banks have always been aware of security risks, and with the sudden shift to digital channels, hackers, identity fraud, and phishing emails will remain a concern.

Operational risk also includes transparency between banks and employees, and employees and customers. As remote work continues, bank leaders worry about the erosion of company culture. Things have panned out well so far due to the relationships banks had prior to the crisis; but moving forward, banks will need to find ways to form and reinforce new relationships, not only in the workforce but also with customers. Regularly surveying employees for feedback and recognizing trends in customer care will help banks reconsider management styles to prevent feelings of isolation and streamline daily processes.

Compliance risk is related to those legal penalties a bank faces should it fail to follow the regulatory standards put down by the industry. New operating procedures and customized banking services can put banks under scrutiny. During and after the crisis, banks must check with proper legal counsel to ensure company changes are in compliance with industry terms but also satisfy client needs in a fair, ethical manner.

Credit risk is the potential for borrowers to default on their obligation to a bank. This is the most significant risk banks face, and if the economy enters a recession, there will be a surge of debt defaults. Many companies and customers will be unable to pay back their loans, and banks will suffer huge losses. This, of course, is a financial risk. Bank support for customers during the crisis has taken many forms, including easing the policies for collections on negative balances, deferred payments, and overdraft fees. Concerns rise though as more customers ask for credit, and banks are forced to be more lenient in how they define financial hardship. Some of the world’s largest banks have prepared for worst-case losses by setting aside substantial reserves in loan loss provisions. Smaller banks, however, are unable to take such preventive measures and may not fare well if conditions worsen.

While mechanisms are in place to manage risk, and thus minimize the negative effects risks can have on the productivity, financial health and overall reputation of an institution, it has taken a great deal of effort by global financial leaders to navigate the ups and downs of the crisis and still serve customers. Risks can cripple a business, and while institutions have done well so far to monitor risks under pressure, it is necessary that risk models plan for a long-term duration of the crisis, since its end is nowhere in sight..

Managing Banking Employees Remotely

July 12th, 2023

2020 has spurred a series of changes, most notably the decision by thousands of businesses to manage employees and coordinate operations remotely. The banking industry is no exception. New priorities have forced banks to very quickly adjust to a remote world, where much of their workforce stays home. This was a shift a lot of financial institutions were ill-prepared for, but most have adopted new procedures and best practices to counteract issues with logistics and security.

Employees no longer operate within sight of the bank offices, so banks keep operations insight through technology. Company-issued devices with special protections, such as multifactor authentication, are mandatory. These devices, secured with corporate malware protections and local firewalls, stave off most security incidents. Many banks also use a virtual private network (VPN), which keeps data on a server back at the organization; employees can log in and out of the VPN, but nothing remains on their device.

To further protect bank security and client lists, it is necessary for institutions to educate and train their employees on the use of bank-owned and managed hardware and heightened threats, such as phishing emails and fraud scams. Password security and cyber-hygiene are also important. Some banks employ monitoring tech, which allows them to track and visually monitor employee activity on bank-issued devices. With this comes the need for a remote work policy that outlines for employees the processes and tools needed to do their jobs, as well as the objectives, communication frequency, and transparency of their work.

Traditional banking was for the longest time a physical, in-person platform. In recent years, banks and other lending institutions automated complex tasks, like account openings, loan applications, and money transfers. This year, however, has seen customers flock to digital channels to perform their banking activities, and any bank that did not offer online means before must now hurry to automate capabilities. As a result, employees must be trained and familiarized with the newly automated systems and workflows, so they can handle complex interactions virtually instead of in the office. This, in turn, can create new, trackable actions that help measure productivity.

Managing a remote workforce has other challenges. Supervisors must navigate team responsibilities, identify roadblocks, and keep an open line of communication in a virtual environment. To keep members accountable, banks will likely use more project-oriented performance management approaches. Performance will be managed based on how well a team (or individual) meets project deadlines and expectations, not on their attendance in the office.

It does not appear that remote work is going away anytime soon, but recent studies show remote workers have higher job satisfaction. They have fewer distractions and a greater ability to focus than if they were back at the office. They achieve a work-life balance that was not realized before, and companies see a boost in productivity. For this reason, many banks are reconsidering operations. JPMorgan Chase, for instance, has employees on a rotational schedule. Depending on the type of business, they may work from home two days a week, or one to two weeks a month. Some portions of their workforce may stay remote permanently.

Until conditions improve and the wellness of staff and clients is no longer a guessing game, banks will continue to navigate the challenges of a remote world. Many seem to be doing well at this, investing in software vendors, testing AI, and reconstructing work policies and ethics. It may be, when conditions improve, some banks will be ahead of the industry game and more progressive than ever before.

How To Begin Preparing Your Professional Resume

July 10th, 2023

When you begin the resume process, you want to make sure it is professional looking.  Sloppy or disjointed resumes will usually get immediately passed on by the reader.

Before you start writing your resume, you should make sure that you have a professional email address like, rather than After you update your email address, you will want to make sure that you correctly update your personal information like your phone number and address.  You will also want to make sure that you do not put in your marital status, date of birth or photograph.

One of the biggest mistakes often made is showing your address in an area far from your current listed employer.  In doing this you may give the impression that you are working remotely.  So, if you have recently moved please be sure your last employer information shows you have left.

Next month we discuss the proper formatting of your resume to get the attention of the reader.


March 11th, 2018

Question 1: What is CECL?

The Current Expected Credit Loss model (CECL) is the new accounting model FASB has issued for the recognition and measurement of credit losses for loans and debt securities. The new standard will generally be effective for SEC registrants’ 2020 financial statements and in 2021 for banks that are not SEC registrants. For banks that are not considered Public Business Entities (PBEs), the effective date will be at December 31, 2021, alleviating them of the requirement to file CECL-based call reports until then (please note that “public” is according to the FASB’s definition, which is not the same as other commonly-used definitions – see question 11 for more information).
Early adoption is permitted beginning in 2019. Accounting for loan losses is at the heart of bank accounting, as it affects what banks do – lend money and collect principal and interest. Amounts that banks do not expect to collect will be recorded in the allowance for loan and lease losses (ALLL) and in an allowance for credit losses on Held-To-Maturity (HTM) debt securities. Any additions to the ALLL are recorded as expenses, which reduces bank capital.

Question 2: What’s at stake with the accounting change?

FASB is replacing the current “incurred loss” accounting model with an “expected loss” model – CECL. Banking regulators have referred to CECL as “the biggest change ever to bank accounting.” This standard is expected to have a huge impact on the costs to prepare and audit the ALLL, how investors analyze the ALLL, and how banks manage their capital. While initial estimates in 2011 indicated 30-50% increases in the ALLL would result from CECL implementation, independent estimates since then have been significantly lower, as the CECL estimate is largely dependent on a company’s forecast of future economic conditions. For that matter, certain aspects of CECL may actually lower allowances in some portfolios. Therefore, while it assumed that ALLL balances will generally increase, the extent of the change is unknown at this point and due to a changing economy, estimates could change often between now and the 2020 implementation date. CECL requires significant changes to the data a bank maintains and analyzes. Bankers, regulators, and auditors are in agreement that more granular data and analysis will be required and new performance metrics will be needed.

How to Win the Job Search Competition

November 21st, 2016

When you talk about hiring an employee, sometimes it seems that a job applicant prevails because of a favorable convergence of the sun, moon, and stars.

Or, maybe hiring an employee is just like a crap shoot. Or, hiring an employee is like throwing a bunch of darts and hoping that one of them sticks in the target. I have heard all of these references to the process of hiring an employee.

But the fundamental question remains.

What makes one applicant the winner in the job search competition? Employees who were hired did a lot of things right. Better, they did almost nothing wrong. How did Mary get the job?

When comparing candidates, an employer has to differentiate between well-qualified applicants. Applicants who appear to have the qualities, skills, education, experience, and knowledge the employer seeks are invited to interview. One is selected. How do you get to be the one?

Your Personal Presentation Must Make You Stand Out

An effective, targeted, customized resume and cover letter got you in the door. Perhaps a telephone screen allowed you to highlight experience and interest that matched the employer’s needs. You’re on track, and an interview is scheduled.

From this moment forward, the potential employer is assessing your fit for the job, the culture, and the needs and strengths of the team. At this point, the employer is giving you every opportunity to blow your chance.

Your physical appearance matters. It’s the first thing the employer sees. Your clothing, hair, makeup, jewelry, and accouterments make an immediate impression. Make the best possible first impression. Your presentation of yourself as a candidate must be flawless. Unpolished shoes do sink job searches.

Your Interaction During Interviews Either Nails Your Job – or Fails

Your preparation for the interview needs to include formulating specific, professional answers to potential questions. You want to sound knowledgeable, competent, and experienced. You need to be prepared to cite examples of what you have accomplished, contributed, and believe is important. This is not something most people do well off the cuff. Prepare responses.

Pay particular attention to the physical parts of you that will be in evidence throughout an interview across a desk or conference table. Dirty fingernails matter as does that faint stain on your shirt. They send loud messages about your attention to detail and personal care habits.

Relaxed communication is critical. Talk about workplace issues and goals that are important to you. Ask questions to assess whether the culture is a good fit for you. You don’t want to join every organization you encounter in a job search. Trust me; sometimes it’s better to keep looking.

Your Past Will Come Back to Haunt You

Before making an offer, smart employers send out a wide networking inquiry to find people who have known you in your past jobs, professional associations, and community involvement activities. Smart employers also do extensive background checking. What people say about you matters.

You may find it difficult to believe that how you live your life and comport yourself in the workplace matters. But, your values and their manifestation in your work life do matter. Living with integrity, playing well with coworkers, leaving friends – not enemies – in your prior jobs will support you in your job search.

And, when the employer who has the job you really want casts his net to solicit feedback, ensure what people say about you will win you your dream job.

Prepare your references and former supervisors to quickly and professionally return the call of your prospective employer. Smart employers call them and ask many questions. References who are unreachable can torpedo your job offer.

Employers customarily “google” their candidate’s names and do online searches to do a background check of the candidate. If you have odd Internet references to your work, your life, or your background, beware.

If you blog or write a website, your comments will impact hiring decisions. You may never know why you were not hired for the job. The interested employer will ask about their concern, however.

Behave as if Every Interaction Matters – Because They Do

From the initial phone screen or the phone call during which an employer sets up an interview, every interaction matters.

The receptionist has a vote. She or he makes statements like, “I really liked that candidate. He was so nice.” “Did you see how late he was and he never even apologized?” “I didn’t like him at all.”

Additionally, if you are a favored candidate for hiring, the HR staff or the hiring manager will stay closely in touch to give you feedback. They will let you know how the hiring process is progressing because they think you may be the one. When these calls start coming, you still have competition from other job searchers, but you are definitely on the short list.

These interactions and the relationship building are critical to the employer hiring an employee. When the eventual offer comes, you already have a relationship with the new employer. Building the relationship matters.

  • By:  Susan Heathfield 

Take the Plunge – Pay More

July 27th, 2016

One reward strategy you can employ that doesn’t involve following the popular drumbeat of negative messages and takeaways.   Other functional departments (i.e., Marketing, Engineering, Advertising) have already taken a different tract to deal with the new realities.   Innovative minds set themselves apart, pushing brand identification to carve out market niches away from the beaten path.

HR can lead the way!

A Different Mindset!

Companies fear wasting money on employees who don’t perform, so they often limit the administrative increases so often granted by their reward programs.  They feel they can’t afford a strategy that increases payroll without a corresponding increase in ROI.  However, they could increase the amounts paid to key employees while restricting the level of those who perform . . . less well.  That would place the high achievers at a fair or even generous pay level, but these winners would be only those who deliver an ROI back to the company.  You can afford to reward high performers, can’t you?

Employees who produce results are worth the money.  If you’re fearful of overpaying those who aren’t performing, you hold the solution in your hands / policy manual.  All it takes is the discipline to hold employees accountable and to take action against those who aren’t performing, who aren’t worth the money you’re paying them.

But that’s easier said than done!

Do you know what percentage of your workforce is rated at an average or lower level of performance?  50%? 60%?   If you still grant every employee an annual increase, you won’t be able to differentiate and properly recognize your key performers.  You won’t have enough money.  In that case the reward bar is inevitably lowered to cover the most common performance level.  Instead, why not raise the performance bar and make the tough decisions for those who can’t keep up?

If a manager has $10,000 for annual increases and tries to balance rewarding both high and average performers, the increases won’t be enough to recognize key players.   While the merit spend is calculated on average performance high performers need larger increases to feel recognized and appreciated.  A request to grant more than $10,000 will be denied, so what do most managers do?  They trim the increases of their best performers, in an effort to spread rewards as broadly as possible and keep everyone happy.

Is this effective?

Nope!   High performers will be discouraged and may rethink their future efforts as well as their commitment to your company, but your “Joe Average” will be pleased.  As behavior rewarded is behavior repeated, by using this make-everyone-happy tactic you’ll have encouraged more average performance and less high performance.  Does that sound like your reward strategy?

Okay you say, but if this concept is such common sense, why is the practice of holding employees accountable so seldom used?

The Management Fear Factor

Some managers fear what would happen if they took a tough line on performance = reward.

  • They fear that employees are somehow “owed” annual salary increases.  “We have to give them something.”
  • They fear their ignorance over how to conduct effective performance appraisals.  “Do these forms really measure performance?”
  • They fear alienating  the majority of  average employees (see bullet #1)
  • They fear what would happen if they exercised  the discipline necessary  to manage employees – because they want to be liked.

With a process designed to monitor and weed out the lower performers, and at the same time pay the higher performers well,  over time your new practice would retain more of those you want and rid yourself of those you don’t.  The employee performance bar would rise, fostering a more dynamic work environment that will in turn feed business performance.

You can (must) afford to do this.  Consider the impact of increased performance levels on your bottom line.  Isn’t it worth the initial outlay of money to make that happen?

Be Advised!

The bean counters (Finance) are perennially afraid of spending a dollar to save two — or in this case, spending a dollar to earn three.  They believe that, while the dollar cost is real the suggested gains are “soft”; promises that can’t be guaranteed.

There’s no easy way around this phobia short of direct intervention from the top.  Lacking senior management support compensation practitioners will face a wave of passive resistance, if not outright defiance by managers tying to “help” the average employee.

Providing high performing employees with greater rewards can create a win-win scenario, a greater attraction for talented outsiders, an improved  team atmosphere focused on pushing the company forward — and less inequities to drag and drain the goodwill you’ve established.

Try it.  Spend a dollar and earn four in return!

Assessing Organizational Culture

August 4th, 2015

The Symicor Group believes that bank culture is an essential consideration to would-be employees.  Is your culture congruent with that of your next superstar?

In a recent posting on June 25, 2015 by Stephanie Reyes on, Stephanie hit the nail on the head concerning the importance of whether culture actually matters in the work place.  You can view her posting at

As part of our placement process, we at The Symicor Group,  make it a practice of ensuring that our Clients and Candidates are a cultural fit.  To learn more about or processes feel free to email us or give us a call.


Reputation Management of Job Boards

January 5th, 2015

Finding the right job board is just as important as finding the right job, which is why reputable job boards are so important for recruiters and potential employees.

Whether it’s finding a job board with dependable listings or one where employers can seek out ideal candidates, reputation management can help.

Here are just a few ways reputation management is having a positive influence on job boards:

Providing the Best Results

Besides being some of the largest job boards on the Internet, sites like Monster, Indeed, and Career Builder have something else in common: inconsistent search results. The last thing recruiters want is to find themselves lumped in with less-than-reputable job posts or worse, spam posts.

In addition, the last thing job seekers want is to sift through hundreds of generic job postings just to find one that’s actually legitimate.

With reputation management, employers and employees alike can find job boards with the most reputable resources, which make the job posting and searching process more efficient.

Avoiding Outdated Listings

There’s nothing worse for job seekers than taking the time to track down a job post and fill out an application only to find out the position has already been filled. Not only is this a waste of time for the site’s visitors, it also makes the job board seem out of date and ineffective.

Cutting the Job Board Clutter

Although the larger job board sites suffer from it the most, even some niche job boards are plagued with clutter. This clutter comes in the form of paid advertisements, paid postings, and spam-like posts that don’t actually lead to the job offerings that are represented in the posts.

Reputation management is looking to cut the job board clutter by monitoring job boards and addressing problematic postings.

By using information based on search results and customer feedback, reputation management services can better represent job boards that pride themselves in clutter-free postings and up to date offerings.

Benefits of Reputation Management

Businesses and job seekers alike benefit from reputation management regardless of whether it’s through job boards or not.

Reputation management improves online job boards and hundreds of other websites in many different ways.

Among them:

  • Customer Satisfaction – Reputation management provides websites the insight they need to improve customer satisfaction. By making sure customer feedback is monitored and the goods and services websites offer are legitimate, reputation management is helping to make the Internet a better place.
  • Positive Perception – For those job boards that put quality first, reputation management services are helping to boost the online presence of sites that go above and beyond.
  • Identify Drawbacks – Through constant monitoring, reputation management services can help job boards pinpoint negative practices as well as website drawbacks. This gives job board sites and other websites an opportunity to provide the best services possible.

When it comes to job boards, reputation management is helping to get the job done more efficiently.

Social Recruiting – Thinking About 2015

September 23rd, 2014

If you’ve been thinking about using social networks for recruiting and don’t know where to start, let me assure you…it’s not all that hard.  It does take a bit of planning and preparation.  I’ve put together a list of things to consider when you’re trying to ramp up your social recruiting efforts.

1.   Determine your goal.

The effort will not be successful if the company doesn’t have a focused conversation about why they are using social media for recruiting.  Maybe it’s because of the perceived cost savings since many social sites are free.  Or possibly it’s because the company’s competitive set is using social and they need to keep up.  Regardless, make sure you have an honest conversation about why you’re doing it.  It will drive future decisions.

2.   Choose 1-2 sites to drive traffic to.

When you post something on a social networking site, often it’s a link to somewhere else. In the case of social recruiting, you might post a link to your LinkedIn company page where openings are listed. Or a link directly to your company careers page.  Figure out where you want to drive traffic. And make sure those sites are up-to-date!

3.   Test the application process.

Since you’re driving traffic to another site, it’s only logical to make sure the site works the way you want it to. There’s nothing worse than being redirected to another site only to discover it’s clumsy and slow.

4.   Find the demographic information for social networking sites.  

Despite what others might say, companies do not need a presence on every social media site. They do need a presence on the sites that fit their audience.  Since we’re talking about recruiting, chances are good that a company needs to be on LinkedIn.  But maybe not Pinterest.  Every social networking site shares their demographics – do a quick search and find the right site for your audience. 

5.   Prioritize social networking sites.

This is probably my personal preference, but I wouldn’t recommend starting a half-dozen accounts at the same time.  Once you know the sites it makes sense to recruit on, give them a priority order.  For example, LinkedIn first, then Twitter and last Facebook.  Pace your efforts, become proficient at one then move to the next.

6.   Create a social networking account.

Before signing up for your first account, spend time thinking about what you want to call the account.  Will each recruiter have their own individual account?  Or will there be one company account that recruiters take turns monitoring?  Decide what the avatar for the account will be.  If each recruiter will have their own account, maybe the recruiters need to agree upon a few guidelines or branding elements for their avatars.  If it’s a company account, will the avatar be the company logo?  And what about the introduction or bio for the account?  Depending upon your industry and your location, corporate counsel might have a couple of disclaimers that need to be included.  Lastly, agree upon what information conceptually can be sent from the account.  For example, it’s a given that you’ll send out job openings. But what else?  Remember, you don’t want to just disappear during slow recruiting times. Can you send out general articles that job seekers might find interesting?

 7.   Find other people and organizations to connect with.  

Many will tell you that the number of individuals and companies you’re connected with doesn’t matter.  And that’s true.  To a point. If you don’t connect with anyone, then you don’t get the benefit of others spreading the word about you.  The key is balance.

8.   Establish a few introductory metrics.  

This one is a toughie. Social media is incredibly popular but the value metric is still being defined.  But, like other forms of recruiting, establish a couple of social media metrics to gauge success.  Off the top, companies should track how much applicant flow they get from social sites.  No different than the old days when we tracked how much applicant flow we got from the newspaper.

9.   Find social distribution methods to increase productivity.

After getting comfortable with social recruiting, the company can look for ways to automate certain aspects. I wouldn’t say automate everything because there’s still a need to be engaged on social media. But applications exist that can increase your productivity.  Also check your ATS system capabilities.

10.   Commit to reading and staying current about social recruiting.  

The world of social media is changing all the time.  Applications change their offering.  Sites increase and decrease in popularity.  Once a company starts recruiting using social media, they should commit to regularly taking a pulse on their efforts (remember those metrics you developed in #8?).  Ask the questions: Is this networking site still giving us results?  Should we experiment with this new site? Think about all these issues in concert with the rest of your recruiting strategy.  Social recruiting isn’t the end all be all – it’s one tool in your recruiting toolbox.  And it’s a very effective way to reach a specific audience that maybe you’re not connecting with right now.  If you leverage it as the unique tool it’s intended to be, the results will happen.

Writing A Job Description – Inviting and Accurate

March 3rd, 2014

One of the most unenviable tasks of human resource managers is describing the job to prospective applicants. This is especially true if the job is being posted on social media websites. Some HR managers tend to be too creative, so much so, that the real intent is lost leaving the prospective hire confused. Sticking to standard descriptions without being too harsh on demands will certainly ignite interest in readers.

Yet another advantage to using standard words and phrases is that they make the description search engine friendly and therefore are more likely to be ranked on the top. The trick is to use words that are commonly used by job searchers.

1.  Stay with Standard Job Titles

Here are some common job title descriptions you can replace with standard ones: Replace Office Ninja with Administrative Help or Assistant, Deal-maker King with Regional Director for Sales, Magical Man with Human Resource Manager and Brand Trumpet with Social Media Specialists and so on.

2.  Give the Description a Conversational Tone

Generally it is better to keep descriptions at a conversational level though you may be advertising the job on many different media – social or print media for example. It is best not to use jargon. You can avoid using phrases like Job Overview, Job Requirement or demonstrate for example. Instead you can try to use words like “Why not join us?” or “Here is what you will be doing” or “Will be in charge of” and so on. These words will make your description more conversational and is more like to attract attention and response.

3.  Promote your Organization’s Brand Value

Though good salary and perks will attract many talents toward your organization, they are not the only incentives for prospective hires. Candidates like to be associated with well-known brands and if your business owns a popular brand, you can leverage the goodwill it enjoys in the marketplace.

Describe your company vividly but avoid saying things like when it was founded or how the business grew. Instead you can tell the prospective applicant what your organization’s endeavors are and where the business will be heading in couple years from now. This will help the candidate to visualize his participation in the process and how he or she will be able to contribute to the company’s growth.

4.  Tell the Candidate How they can make an Impact

Most candidates will want to know their working environment. If the position gives control over a large workforce, now is the time to tell them in very clear terms without mincing words. If for example the candidate will be controlling a big team or will be responsible for multiplying sales, you can tell that clearly. Say that they candidate will be responsible for multiplying sales upward of 10%, for example.

5.  Make your Descriptions Mobile Friendly

Little we need to remind HR Managers that the percentage of people who use mobile devices and phones is on the rise. If you are using social media websites for attracting talents, chances are your target audience is using it to read your message. It is therefore imperative to make your descriptions friendly toward mobile phones usage.

The Symicor Group stands ready to help in your recruiting needs.  We can help you write job descriptions, assess talent, formulate HR staffing models, develop compensation programs, and most essential, fill important senior level bank vacancies.  For more information give our office a call at (847) 325-5457.