ECONOMY

Bank staff shortage

Greek banks seem to be handicapped by a lack of experienced human resources, which hampers their growth domestically and abroad. It is universally accepted that there is not enough new-generation (aged 35-40 years) executive staff to cover the banks’ needs within and beyond the borders, as the great growth of the sector in recent years has not come with similar growth in the human resources required. The growth of Greek banks over the last decade has been based on two pillars: the liberalization of retail banking (with the last administrative limitation abolished in 2003) and the banks’ ambitious expansion into Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean. The rapid growth of retail banking, that is, loans to households, gave a major push to the expansion of banks. In 1995, the total amount of mortgage loans issued reached just 3.5 billion euros, against 45 billion euros today, while consumer loans grew from 1.2 billion euros in 1995 to nearly 24 billion euros now. Greek banks today control dozens of credit institutions abroad, from Russia to Turkey and from Poland to Egypt. This fast growth in foreign markets signifies greater needs, not only for young managerial staff with skills but also with the will to work abroad, in countries seen as less advanced than Greece. So quick was the banks’ growth that it did not allow for the training of employees, for readying new executive staff and for creating an international culture. In France, it is impossible for a middle-rank manager to advance without a notable stint abroad, whereas in Greece managers must be tempted with high salaries to accept posts abroad. The National Bank of Greece has in recent months systematically strengthened its staff and seeks other solutions to adjust its systems to the needs of its new size after the acquisition of Turkey’s Finansbank, so as to become a regional force. The upgrade of Emporiki Bank’s staff is a top priority for Credit Agricole, too, and the planned hiring of 250 people will concern middle-rank staff – where the greatest need is. Major private banks, such as Alpha, Eurobank and Piraeus, are also seeking specialized executive staff, while state-interest ATEbank and Postal Savings Bank are finding it harder to recruit staff due to public sector limitations.