The future of banking: Shared services

The shared services and centers of excellence sector in Poland has been growing exponentially over the last 15 years – the industry now employs 330,00 people. 44,000 of them work for centers of international banks and other financial institutions. 7 of the 10 largest global investment banks and 13 of the 50 largest global banks overall have established centers in Poland. A number of them have also opened a 2nd center in the country. The biggest investors employ more than 4,000 people each in their centers.

Two Page Executive Debates

On March 28th, 2019, Page Executive organized a 2nd debate in Warsaw for Center and HR Heads to discuss topics important for the sector. The event was led by Mariusz Grendowicz, one of the most prominent bankers in Poland and hosted by Iwona Dudzińska, Citi Managing Director, at their premises. Agnieszka Kulikowska, Partner in Page Executive, facilitated the discussion. During the 1st debate in September 2018, we identified and summarized many topics important for the industry. This time we focused on practical ideas that could be implemented for the benefit of the sector. The debates were attended by representatives of ABSL, Aviva, BNP Paribas Securities, Citi, City of Warsaw, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, NatWest, Metlife, Moneygram, PAIH, Standard Chartered, UBS. This video kicks off a series of interviews with industry leaders in Poland discussing the trends and challenges for the sector today.

Sector Trends

Job complexity

When the first centers were established, they focused primarily on more basic and repetitive operational tasks. Over the years, the shared services centers evolved into centers of excellence and more complex functions were added, requiring advanced skills and knowledge. In the area of Technology, the centers now employ thousands of software development and IT security experts. In Finance – product and financial controllers as well as reporting experts. In Risk – quants, in Operations – a full scope of back office and middle office experts supporting all lines of the business. These services are delivered from Poland on a regional (EMEA) and global scale, with more global head roles being relocated to the country. We spoke about how to make sure this message reaches a broader audience.

Sector branding

The banking & financial services hub sector is often seen as part of the broader SSC industry. We spoke about creating a unique identity of the sector as one focused on more complex functions and being closer to global financial institutions than typical SSCs. While traditional banking (retail branches, etc.) is slowly ending – banking & FS hubs are a growing industry and a sector of the future. While traditional banking may be associated with a more formal culture and dress code, the hubs nourish a culture more appealing to millennials. Fintechs and start-ups may sound alluring to the younger generation, but it is the centers that have a positive work culture, career paths and general framework to let people develop their full potential.

Inclusion & diversity

The sector has done a lot in terms of promoting I&D initiatives focused on issues like LGBT and attracting more foreigners into the centers (now at an industry level of 15%). More programs are now focused on people with disabilities and mental health awareness. The sector has the opportunity to become a leader in inclusiveness in Poland as these programs are supported by global management boards in the headquarters abroad. This message can become one of the differentiators of the sector.

Universities and students

We discussed educating university staff on the uniqueness of the sector. We considered creating focus groups with students from various universities to make sure the job descriptions we use to advertise roles in the sector are understandable and appealing to the young generation. We thought about programs aimed at high schools as not all jobs in the sector necessarily require a university degree.

Cooperation with banks

The banking sector in Poland is one of the most competitive in Europe with more than 50 international players who entered the local market since the economic transformation which began in 1989. The last years were filled with mergers & acquisitions, with many banking groups exiting the market and the largest banks in Poland now consisting of 5 or more merged entities. These changes result in group layoffs – after the most recent wave of M&As, a group of 15,000 bankers will be let go. The sector can cooperate with these banking entities to discuss possibilities to employ some of the people who are being made redundant.

About the Author:

Agnieszka Kulikowska
Page Executive Partner
T: +48 22 319 3017

Agnieszka currently leads the Financial Services, Shared Services and Human Resources practices in Poland. She has successfully conducted over 110 executive search assignments on Regional (CEE, EMEA), local Board and Director levels among a total of over 260 recruitment projects since joining PageGroup.