Lincoln Savings Bank continues to grow at an unprecedented rate despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its workforce is expected to grow to nearly 500 employees by early next year, said Cathy Schuler, executive vice president of human resources. This step comes after three years of “record hires”, ie approximately 100 new employees per year.
Some new employees have replaced people who have left. But a sizable chunk is new positions created to support the “not typically” aspects of the business offered by your average community bank.
This includes expanding its government-backed loan programs, but also its “fintech” financial technology division.
But LSB sees itself first and foremost as a “community bank”, with the highest quality services for its customers. It has more than 15 branches, mostly in northeast Iowa, but also in and around Des Moines.
LSB has always strived to be innovative, Schuler said, and it has found the right partners and customers to help build its fintech brand, including Square Cash App, Qapital, M1 Finance and Acorns, as well as executives. who have guided him over the years.
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Schuler said that when the pandemic became the new reality, LSB was able to offer business borrowers loans from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program “from the start.”
HiringThe “big quit” is a term coined to describe the unexpected number of people who left their jobs after the pandemic gave them the opportunity to reevaluate their lives and seek more fulfilling careers.
Schuler said LSB was not a direct victim of the supposed phenomenon. But the bank saw challenges in its pool of candidates.
“I used to post an ad for a cashier and get 20 applications without even trying,” Schuler said. “Now I get like 10.”
LSB has responded in particular by transforming each of its employees into “recruiters”, with the help of financial incentives through its sponsorship program. LSB also relies on recruiting platforms like LinkedIn and ensures candidates are aware of its flexible hours and remote working opportunities.
Schuler insists there are no secrets to hiring.
“We just try to find the right, strong, hard-working people, and we don’t settle down until we find them,” she said. “We talk about our culture. And once you’re on board, we take the time to vet them and verify ourselves to make sure everyone still feels and expounds our core values.
However, Schuler has a secret weapon.
LSB has moved into the Cedar Valley TechWorks building to create new jobs in Waterloo and partly expand LSBX, its “fintech” division, as well as other areas of its business.
“I love it,” Schuler said of what is now Lincoln Savings Bank Techworks Central Campus. “It’s probably one of my best recruiting tools because it really fosters collaboration.”
In many cases, LSB doesn’t have to hire because of the pride it takes in transferring talent and training people in-house, and having a real talent for retaining employees.
“You have to remember that there are a lot of stakeholders and the community that we serve, but with the employees, we do our best to remember that we have to take care of them as well,” Schuler said.
One way to do this is to be upfront and communicate with them, and offer them the opportunity to be “employee owners” through an employee stock ownership plan.
FintechLSB introduced fintech as part of its business model in 2015. This is one of the main reasons for LSB’s continued growth.
“I’ve been in banking for a long time, and fintech is really something new,” Schuler said. “It takes a different skill. It involves a different customer segment and you are dealing with different rules and processes. »
“Fintech compliance is a whole different animal,” she added.
Brett Olsen, an associate professor of finance at the University of Northern Iowa, said many emerging tech companies are competing with banks, which as a result “are forced to accelerate their own innovation.”
Sometimes they make deals with fintech companies, “because they don’t want to lose that aspect of the business.” But the big banks have another option: acquisition.
UBS, a Swiss company, has agreed to acquire California-based Wealthfront, an online investment fintech company.
“Big companies will be more likely to attract these fintech innovators, while smaller companies and banks (e.g., LSB) are more likely to partner up or develop their own in-house fintech operations,” Olsen said. “Ignoring this move – for example, not offering these high-tech solutions to customers – is not an option for smaller banks as it becomes increasingly easier for customers to switch banks.”
Fintech is where banking is rapidly heading, says Olsen. Recent graduates will need experience in coding or data analysis to land a job in the field.
“The big quit could really cripple them with the loss of a lot of experience and knowledge if people decide they don’t want to do that anymore or be in an office,” Olsen said. “It provides opportunities for these young people coming out of university. And there might be a little period where banks are struggling with this transition period where they lose a lot of experience and then try to bring these new graduates up to speed.
“I think the banking industry is going to continue to hire and hire and hire, and the challenge will be to keep them in the bank without overstretching them and keeping up with the latest demands.”