By Kate Young
Diversity. Accessibility. Fresh perspectives. A cool youth culture. Is that what comes to mind when you think of the banking industry? Stop laughing. The future is fast approaching, and it’s bringing more than just new technologies.
It’s also bringing a demand for financial services professionals who are agile, tech savvy, and can connect personally with the diverse communities they serve. In a field where the products are commoditized and the service is increasingly dominated by technology, it’s the front-line customer-facing employees who will end up defining your bank. You better have the right people.
Do you know how you’re going to get the right people?
A group of 23 Miami-area banks is already preparing that next generation of bankers. You can forget about stuffed-shirt types. Think even beyond the millennials. These high school-aged banking students represent Gen-Z—the post-millennial generation. And they’re being groomed by a collaboration of the Center for Financial Training (CFT Southeastern), CareerSource of South Florida, the Cuban American National Council, and Miami Dade College’s School of Business.
Now in its ninth year, Future Bankers Camp is probably unlike any camp you’ve heard of before. Instead of hiking trails or playing sports, these campers are training for careers in the financial services industry. The four-week program—which started on June 1—combines two weeks of intensive classroom instruction at Miami-Dade College with two subsequent weeks of internship experience at one of the participating local banks.
Meet Miami’s future bankers.
The students are largely minorities, drawn from the Miami-Dade County Public School System’s Academy of Finance, which is a profession-oriented curriculum offered through 12 local high schools. To be selected for Future Bankers Camp, applicants must have, among other things, a GPA of 3.0 or higher, two letters of reference, and a recommendation from a high school administrator. A total of 71 students are participating this year, including 8 college students who are alums from previous camp sessions.
This year, the camp is offering two instructional tracks: one for bank tellers and another for customer service reps. The customer service track includes a three-credit course through Miami-Dade College. Once students complete the camp and pass a test, they can earn the ABA Bank Teller Certificate or the ABA Customer Service Rep Certificate, both nationally recognized industry credentials for entry-level employment.
But the program isn’t just about training entry-level employees. By enhancing English, communication and math skills—as well as financial literacy—the camp seeks to prepare students for college. And by teaching business etiquette, professional ethics, and teamwork, the program sets the foundation for career growth within financial services.
Why is this important?
The partnership that created Future Bankers’ Camp shows what can happen when a broad coalition of organizations with a range of agendas works together toward common goals. And the program’s success may be replicable in many communities.
- The Center for Financial Training is the largest industry-sponsored adult education program in the world. It provides job specific skills in the financial services industry using educational tools provided by the American Bankers Association. Its initiatives support the banking industry by preparing a labor force for professional licensing requirements and helping potential employees meet college credit and degree requirements.
- The Miami-Dade County Public Schools Academy of Finance program is a member of the National Academy Foundation, which supports the development of America’s youth toward long-term personal and professional success.
- CareerSource South Florida is a public-private partnership that supports local workforce development and training policies as well as a network of career centers located throughout the region.
- The Cuban American National Council (CNC) is a philanthropic organization that provides human services to persons in need from all racial and ethnic groups. The goal of CNC is to help people become self-reliant and to build bridges among diverse communities.
As the Center for Financial Training puts it, “Having more financial professionals integrated into South Florida’s minority communities is a critical step for developing economic self-sufficiency for all minorities, not just those who enter the industry. Through better understanding, they are able to reach out to other minority families and assist them in implementing the financial methods needed to get ahead.” That’s a lofty goal.
What’s in it for the banks?
In addition to the long-term potential for a broader customer base that comes from increased economic inclusion of minority groups, there’s also a more concrete, short-term benefit: a pipeline of dedicated, well-trained employees.
Here’s a list of this year’s participating banks.