By Jeni PastierAs competition heats up for the most precious of resources—human capital—talent shortage and industry diversity are topics that weigh on the minds of many bank leaders. “Shortage of diversity is something we are all talking about but it’s something we really have done very little about,” says Louis Beck, chairman of Union Savings Bank, a $2.7 billion bank located in Cincinnati, Ohio. “When you look around, we really have not moved the numbers around in many years.”
Beck has a vision that those who are looking for bank talent will look to Central State University, a historically black college and university in Wilberforce, Ohio, as the go-to source for talented individuals with the skill set to enter the banking industry workforce.
Beck’s vision started coming to life in 2017, when the Summer Banking Institute was established through a pioneering partnership between Union Savings Bank and Central State University to address the lower labor force participation of racial minorities in the financial services industry by providing real world training of students exclusively for careers in banking. This 12-week institute, open to any student in good academic standing regardless of education major, prepares students for careers in banking and finance by combining four weeks of classroom instruction followed by eight weeks of hands-on experience through paid internships.
The first four weeks of the program are dedicated to in-classroom learning with a banking focused curriculum that allows students to learn valuable information about banking functions, products, practices, structure and overall job skills. These courses are instructed by Central State University professors and banking professionals and cover a wide range of topics—from retaining customer relationships to data management.
The remaining eight weeks of the program is a paid internship designed to draw young people into a bank where they can then relate the learned curriculum and their skill set to services offered by financial institutions. The final objective is to have workforce-ready graduates who have a professional network of support. And thanks to a partnership with the Ohio Bankers League, word is spreading to banks across the state that talent a cut above the average intern is ready to hit the ground running each summer.
The Summer Banking Institute takes professional development a step further by offering a holistic approach to an individual’s growth by addressing the critical need of facilitating financial literacy for students from low to moderate-income communities. Graduates of the program have noted that working in the financial services industry through the internship and seeing financial transactions firsthand has taught them how to make more informed financial decisions.
The families of program participants also benefit from the student’s increased knowledge and training by having a trusted source to connect them to banking services. Establishing this well rounded approach of incorporating personal finance skills into the banking career program is what secured Union Savings Bank the ABA Foundation’s 2019 Community Commitment Award in the financial education category.
Jeni Pastier is director of youth financial education programs at ABA.