Culture Beyond Credit

Why do young bankers value training and growth as much as compensation?

By Alaina Webster

Scott Andrews is senior vice president and chief operating officer, commercial banking, for Tulsa, Okla.-headquartered BOK Financial, but he’s only been with the bank for eight and a half years. And BOK was and remains his first job out of college. So how is it possible that Andrews has achieved such career heights as a millennial? Is he some sort of boy wunderkind, or is BOK taking a different approach to talent allocation?

While Andrews is, admittedly, very talented, the latter holds some truth as well. After a college internship with BOK, Andrews chose to return to the bank following graduation from the University of Notre Dame and enter BOK’s Accelerated Career Track. This 18-month program begins with extensive credit training, including case studies and “live deals.” Participants then follow one of three tracks: commercial banking, IT, or wealth management. Trainees, who are employed through the bank for the duration of the program, do everything from meeting with senior and executive management to rotating through various departments to shadowing a bank executive for a week.

Scott Andrews

“We take very highly paid folks out of their daily jobs and put them in front of this cohort to really indoctrinate the bank’s culture and the way we think about credit and customer service,” Andrews said. “It really serves as our foundation.”

Cultural focus is something Andrews believes BOK has that some other banks lack.

“I would say most banks close to our size have a training program,” he said. “They have a vehicle to get people out of school and indoctrinated in their credit culture. However, I don’t know how much emphasis is put on the culture beyond credit.”

And culture? That’s important to millennials.

“I think they’re [millennials] beyond the days when you just want a paycheck, and if you’re not being fulfilled, either by the purpose of your organization or by the growth that you are achieving, millennials get restless,” he shared. “I certainly think that we, as an organization, have recognized that engaged employees are more productive. I think that’s a universal maxim.”

These ideas are borne out by the numbers: BOK sees higher rates of employee retention for employees who have graduated from its Accelerated Career Track.

Andrews believes that companies that are willing to evaluate the potential of employees and grow that potential — through training programs or otherwise, rather than looking at current skill sets or number of years worked — will succeed in retaining the next generation of bank leaders.

“You read all those headlines about how banks are competing against techs for high-skilled talent. I would say that outside of the ‘fluffiness’ of what millennials want, the reality is they want coaching,” he advised.

“They want to be developed, and they want to be invested in, and they want to grow. And I think organizations should allow people who exhibit potential to advance quickly — not necessarily ahead of their skills — but at a pace that allows them to try new things and not have to sit in a seat for a prescribed number of years before they get the next seat. That’s an antiquated model. We believe in a different model, and my career has been more fulfilling as a result.” 

Alaina Webster, Managing Editor,

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