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Why retail bankers need skills in fintech

27 September, 2022Rob Thompson

Banking is changing rapidly, with digital disruption and evolving customer expectations transforming the way retail banks operate. That means careers in banking are changing too. Rob Thompson looks at how banks are changing and what you can do to keep up to speed.

Mobile phone and card readerIt might sound unlikely, but tallying figures in a paper ledger is something that many older retail bankers had to learn. The first bank in the UK to introduce a computer for centralised accounting – the Bank of Scotland – did so in 1959.

The new machine was a thing of wonder. It served just four branches and only a few managers were allowed in to see it in case it overheated. It took another ten years for all customer accounts at the bank to be computerised.

Now, over half of UK adults use mobile banking and over two-thirds use online banking, according to UK Finance. Bank ledgers are firmly digital – in CORE banking software – and some advocate the use of blockchain.

Careers in retail banking are changing fast

As that suggests, careers in retail banking are changing – and far faster than they did even ten years ago. Retail banking is increasingly a frictionless element of an online journey, rather than a distinct set of decisions.

For example, the European Central Bank (ECB) recently announced the companies chosen to collaborate on building a prototype of the front-end of the digital euro.

Four of the five – CaixaBank, Worldline, The European Payments Initiative (EPI) and Nexi – have predictably deep financial services roots in Europe. The fifth – Amazon – made headlines.

The choice of Amazon ruffled feathers because it didn’t grow out of a bank and it’s not European. It does, however, as the ECB put it, have “the experience and ability to deliver a specific capability” in e-commerce payments.  It was chosen out of a pool of 54 that applied to be front-end providers.

The skills a digital banker needs

Amazon is famous for providing ‘one click’ payments and highly personalised and intuitive customer journeys.

The digital banker of the future will have to meet the same standards. With embedded finance, many bank customers won’t even be aware that a bank is involved in making their life easier as they go about their online day.

So, what will the retail banker of the future need to be able to do?

  1. They’ll need a good grounding in fintech – that doesn’t mean coding, it means understanding what’s driving innovation in banking and finance.
  2. They’ll have a deep knowledge of retail banking products and services and of the regulation that guides them.
  3. And they’ll understand customer expectations and needs, and how they are changing over time.

The retail banker of the future will have many career paths open to them.

  • Some will be designing online customer journeys.
  • Some will bridge the gap between the questions asked in a branch and the services available online.
  • Others will focus on internal strategy.

All will need to engage thoughtfully with digital services and get up to speed quickly, which is why we devised Certificate in Retail and Digital Banking (CertRDB).

Related content

If you’re looking to kickstart your career in retail and digital banking – or working in another area of financial services – CertRDB will give you the skills for a career in today’s banking sector.

More about CertRDB

You may also be interested in our Level 6 Strategic Management & Innovation in Banking (SMIB) or for a deeper dive into digital banking, the Certified Fintech Practitioner six-week course.