Why Gen Z talent will make or break the future of banking | EY


As more and more Baby Boomers leave the workforce, the need for future talent in the global banking sector is clearer than ever – but how many Gen Zers dream of working in a bank? 

Attracting this generation of workers is both a challenge and an opportunity. Members of the Gen Z cohort (via EY.com US) – everyone born between 1997 and 2012 – have much to gain from a career in banking, and much to offer too. They offer fresh perspectives that align with an increasingly diverse customer base in banks. They also bring valuable technology and data skills that banks need to thrive in an age of digital disruption.

Yet some young people have a skeptical view of the banking sector, regarding it with disinterest or even distrust. For various reasons, a career in banking might not be as appealing as it once was – and if this attitude shift is not addressed, this generation of skilled and critical talent may seek employment elsewhere. This would drain the supply of inbound talent to the sector and pose business continuity and financial risks to banks around the world.

Banks must be thinking about how they can appeal and attract talent to fill a wide range of roles. Banking modernization is under way through the use of digital platforms and automated solutions. Banks play a part in addressing societal issues, such as social inequality through financial-inclusion programs or the climate crisis through sustainable financing. Yet, these compelling features of a banking career might be getting lost in the noise or overshadowed by headlines on bank failures or financial crime scandals. In order to position banking as a sector of choice for future generations, work must be done to shift the narrative and focus on the role of banks as a force for good in society. 

“You can’t put tomorrow’s talent in yesterday’s jobs,” says Stefanie Coleman, Principal, People Advisory Services, Ernst &Young LLP, United States. “The next generation of workers expect to be digitally enabled in their roles and to do work that they find rewarding – creative, strategic and interesting. They want to experiment and try out a range of different roles, which will help them build as many skills as possible.”

A cultural shift

Gen Z is the future of banking talent. This demographic will account for 27% of the workforce by 2025.1 So, what sets Gen Z apart? They are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet,2 digitally native and globally conscious, and unlike any generation that has come before them. 

A key difference is that Gen Z has had access to digital devices since early childhood. Most can’t remember a life without smartphones, the ability to search for information in real time or having social media accounts that embed their identities in the digital world. They grew up during a recession and a climate crisis, and came of age in a polarized political landscape. 

The pandemic was also a formative experience for this generation, and many emerged from isolation with a strong focus on health and wellbeing, and an expectation of flexible or remote work. 

The recent capital and liquidity crises across the global banking sector highlight the importance of a resilient financial system. This resilience relies on a strong supply of early-career talent – and there is a range of opportunities for banks that are attuned to Gen Z. 

Given the significant generational shifts in the workforce that are upon us, it is important to start a conversation about the appeal of the banking sector to the next generation of workers. This article reflects our vision for how banks can bolster that appeal to Gen Z. Our hypotheses were developed through dialogue among EY teams and industry leaders, and represent the six areas banks need to prioritize to attract Gen Z talent:

  1. Make radical progress with diversity, equity and inclusion.
  2. Modernize antiquated jobs and notions of career opportunities.
  3. Transform the learning experience.
  4. Become a tech and data magnet.
  5. Build authentic purpose and drive social impact.
  6. Energize the culture with wellness, flexibility and transparency.


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