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The 10 Most In-Demand Competencies in the Banking Industry

By HRSG on May, 5 2020
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Competencies enthusiast

Financial institutions can compete on their reputation, their rates, and even their marketing, but when it comes down to it, a bank or credit union’s employees are its strongest asset.

Even as technology fuels rapid changes for a traditionally settled industry, banks are still dependent on consistent, shared behaviors amongst the people that drive the organization forward.

For the first time, we’re providing access to our data which shows the most in-demand competencies today for banking industry talent.  

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What’s this data based on? What banking jobs are we looking at?

Over the past 18 months, HRSG’s systems have crawled over 10 million job posts – about 50,000 of which are for banking positions based in North America.  

From there, our advanced machine learning algorithm has categorized and sorted the key knowledge, skills and abilities requested by employers on these job posts into competencies.

In this report, we’ll be looking at universal competencies, which can most easily be summarized as ‘soft skills,’ or desirable behaviors needed for success.

For more info on the basics of competencies, and what practical steps you can take with this data, see the end of this report.

Now, let’s get started. On to the data!

The Top 10 Most In-Demand Competencies in Banking Services Organizations:
  1. Client Focus
  2. Planning and Organizing
  3. Fostering Communication
  4. Attention to Detail
  5. Professionalism
  6. Collaborating with Others
  7. Problem Solving
  8. Achievement Orientation
  9. Ensuring Accountability
  10. Partnering

#1. Client Focus
Prevalence across subgroups

1. Tellers: 67%

2. Bank Operations: 56%

3. Collections: 45%

4. Investing: 32%

5. Credit & Lending: 28%

6. Compliance & Fraud: 3%

What it tells us: 
In an industry still driven by person-to-person interactions, customer is king and client focus comes in as the most common universal competency across all banking jobs.

Despite the changes that technology has brought to the sector, banking organizations still believe in the importance of providing great service, and want those behaviors to filter throughout most roles in their organization.

We see that this competency is most common for tellers on the front line, but is also in high demand for banking operations staff. Also of note, only jobs categorized in the “Customer Service & Support” category had a greater prevalence of this competency.

Client Focus in all Job Categories:

#2. Planning & Organizing

What it tells us: 
It makes some sense that planning and organizing comes in at number two, as these are skills and behaviors needed across a wide range of jobs across the industry.

No subgroup of jobs had this on less than 25% of their jobs, which is the high-water mark for consistency across our top 10 banking competencies.

Prevalence across subgroups

1. Compliance & Fraud: 43%

2. Tellers: 43%

3. Bank Operations: 36%

4. Collection: 28%

5. Investing: 25%

6. Credit & Lending: 25%

Planning & Organizing in all job categories:

#3. Fostering Communication

What it tells us: 
Fostering communication is the behavior of listening and communicating openly, honestly and respectfully with different audiences.

We see this reflected in the two subgroups (compliance & fraud and collections) where this competency is most in-demand, and where the personnel often deals with tricky or sensitive conversations in their day-to-day responsibilities.

Prevalence across subgroups

1. Compliance & Fraud: 51%

2. Collections: 42%

3. Tellers: 40%

4. Bank Operations: 37%

5. Credit & Lending: 27%

6. Investing: 22%

Fostering Communication in all job categories:

#4. Attention to Detail

What it tells us: 
Though they may not be at the top of their organizations, tellers’ attention to detail needs to be impeccable -- or their organizations may bear the cost. Whether it’s a complicated financial transaction or a simple withdrawal, accuracy is vital.

Prevalence across subgroups

1. Tellers: 50%

2. Collections: 26%

3. Credit & Lending: 16%

4. Bank Operations: 15%

5. Investing: 13%

6. Compliance & Fraud: 4%

Attention to Detail in all job categories:

#5. Professionalism

What it tells us: 
Customers want to know that their hard-earned dollars are in safe, trustworthy and professional hands. We see this reflected in the types of people that banking industry organizations are looking for, and in the strong emphasis on professional-oriented behaviors in their job descriptions.

Prevalence across subgroups

1. Tellers: 42%

2. Bank Operations: 35%

3. Credit & Lending: 14%

4. Investing: 14%

5. Collections: 14%

6. Compliance & Fraud: 9%

Professionalism across all job categories:

#6. Collaborating with Others

Collaborating with Others across all job categories:

#7. Problem Solving

Problem Solving across all job categories:

#8. Achievement Orientation

Achievement Orientation across all job categories:

#9. Ensuring Accountability

Ensuring Accountability across all job categories:

#10. Partnering

Partnering across all job categories:

Honorable Mentions

Here are 6 more competencies that landed just outside the top 10 competencies we captured, and their prevalence as compared to our pool of over 10 million jobs crawled by our AI.

Relevant Competencies (after the 10 most in-demand banking competencies)

Digital Literacy

17% of banking Jobs
(vs. 17% overall)


15% of banking jobs
(vs. 15% overall)


15% of banking jobs
(vs. 3% overall)

Information Gathering & Processing

12% of banking jobs
(vs. 14% overall)

Decision Making

11% of banking jobs
(vs. 7% overall)


10% of banking jobs
(vs. 6% overall)


About this Report: Digging Deeper on Competencies

The Building Blocks of Success
Throughout this report, we've looked at the most common, universal competencies that banking organizations are asking for from their employees. Why competencies and not skills? Quite simply because in a work setting competencies are more useful than skills.

Competencies define observable and measurable behaviors needed for successful performance. It’s one thing to say that recruiting for Client Focus is critical, but how can you separate one candidate from another 

Interview Questions
. Tied to each competency are quality interview questions so that candidates are asked questions that help demonstrate their experience in the competency area.on Client Focus? And what about after you’ve found that perfect candidate – how do you support their ongoing Client Focus development?  

Competencies give managers and HR professionals the tools they need at every step of an employee’s journey – from candidate through to development and promotion:

  • Proficiency Levels. Each competency has multiple levels of proficiency, so that candidates for a VP position aren’t asked the same questions as bank teller candidates.
  • Assessments. Self / 180 / 360 assessments using specific behavioral examples that help employees and managers understand what successful performance looks like at different levels of proficiency.   
  • Career Progression. Close competency gaps and build career paths. With your competencies mapped to every job, there’s total transparency on exactly what skills and behaviors, at what levels, your people need to demonstrate in order to take their next step (or even reach their dream job)
  • Technical Competencies. Add banking specific competencies to the mix, such as banking regulations, currency management or public finance, to further drive business success.

More questions about competencies?

Access our free guide to building a competency framework - a thorough look at competencies from the ground up.

About HRSG & CompetencyCore

For three decades, HRSG has delivered products and services to define talent needs, address skill deficiencies and improve individual and organizational performance.  

Our Products division has distilled that 30 years of expertise into a competency, job description and career management software solution. Leveraging the power of AI, CompetencyCore is unlike any other product on the market, bringing together the power of competencies and the utility of job descriptions.  

Our Talent Management Solutions division delivers modern talent management solutions in competency-based management, testing and assessment. In addition, we train HR professionals worldwide in our competency-based management methodologies.  


Learn More About Competencies: 


Post last updated: January 7, 2021