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COVID-19 Forced Changes in Banking Industry, Data Shows

COVID-19 forced changes in banking industry, data shows

2020 Crowe Bank Compensation and Benefits Survey reports bank salary benchmarks and the impact of the pandemic

While most banks stayed extremely busy administering Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was still notable, according to data from the 2020 Crowe Bank Compensation and Benefits Survey.

The 2020 Crowe Bank Compensation and Benefits Survey reports bank salary benchmarks and the impact of the pandemic.

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Crowe, a public accounting, consulting and technology firm in the U.S. with offices around the world, conducted its 39th annual bank compensation and benefits survey. The study compiled data from 386 banks and credit unions and includes information on benefits, incentives, director compensation and human resource practices, as well as bank salary and bonus benchmarks for 273 job positions.

“For years, banks have been exploring reductions in lagging or low-performing branches to reduce operating costs,” said Timothy Reimink, a consulting managing director specializing in financial services and performance improvement at Crowe. “With the pandemic accelerating the decline in branch foot traffic and forcing customers to adopt digital banking solutions, many banks have begun to move more aggressively to reduce their costs. A secondary impact of that can be seen in the data on job reductions and future hiring.”

Five percent of respondents reported laying off employees in response to the pandemic. Twenty-nine percent of respondents eliminated or deferred planned new hire positions, and 44% are planning smaller-than-normal raises for current staff.

Because banks and credit unions generally were deemed essential businesses, many continued to staff their branches during various states’ stay-at-home orders but allowed back-office staff to work remotely when possible. “Allowing employees to work from home has been a big shift for many banks and credit unions, especially those that actively discouraged remote work prior to the pandemic,” said Reimink. “This shift has been remarkable – not only because of industry culture – but also because of the speed of adoption of technology, as small to midsized banks and credit unions were generally not equipped to broadly grant employee remote access to bank systems and have had to change very quickly.”

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Other key survey findings include:

  • The 2020 median salaries of nearly all the positions recorded in the survey increased compared to 2018, though several were lower this year than compared to 2019.
  • The position of CEO/president reported a 6% increase in median salary since 2019, for a 2020 average median salary of $245,000, one of the largest reported percentage increases of any position in the survey.
  • Branch managers had a more than 5% drop in their reported annual salary in the past year, which, according to Reimink, is likely reflective of the branch reduction trend.
  • Customer service representatives’ median salary increased by nearly 6% since 2019, a sign that keeping customers satisfied is a priority as banks compete for customers.
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents reported provided gloves as personal protection equipment (PPE) for on-site staff and 18% provided face masks.

When looking at position by age breakdown, 50% of executives are 56 years or older and 28% of managers are in this cohort. According to Mark Walztoni, a human resources consulting managing director at Crowe, with that in mind, it’s surprising that only 58% of organizations reported that they have a documented, board-approved succession plan.

“Executives likely have managers who they expect will be able to succeed them after retirement,” Walztoni noted. “However, it’s important to formally document that plan so board members know which executive roles might be filled from within the organization and which areas might require external hires. In a year that’s been filled with so much uncertainty, a long-term vision is critical for the health of the bank.”

In addition to the national survey, Crowe prepared regional compensation reports for the Midwest, Northeast, South Central and Southeast regions, as well as state reports for Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.

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