You know, I’ve always advocated the importance of domain knowledge to anyone who is running projects or part of a project team. I’ve previously written about domain knowledge here and here.
In this article, I’d like to provide more perspectives on how you can acquire domain knowledge in banking so that you can gain more credibility in your projects.
Banking is a HUGE industry and many of the projects you’ll get into involve banks one way or another. Even if you’re in, say, a telecommunications related project, if there is payment of any sort to be done, it will involve a bank somehow.
If you’re working in insurance projects – well, banks act as the “bancassurance” channels for insurance (i.e. the bank staff help to sell the insurance carrier’s products, acting like an agent and receiving a commission for the effort).
I does indeed pay off to learn more about banking and acquiring domain knowledge in this area will help enhance your career prospects significantly.
Here are five ways to get more domain knowledge in banking – I’ll go through each of them in more detail below.
1. Talk to People In Banking
The first way to get domain knowledge in banking is also the most easy one. Talk to people in the banking industry! If you’re in a banking project, you may have a friendly stakeholder or user who is in banking operations.
He or she will be a goldmine of information – try to get him or her to explain to you how banking operations work. If you understand how a bank operates, you will learning 75% of what a bank is about.
Of course, you’ll want to choose stakeholders who are friendly. Some stakeholders I know don’t like “project” people and may not want to spend too much time with you. So identify who are the better ones to talk to, buy them a coffee and learn all you can!
2. Read Widely
The second way to gain domain knowledge in banking is to simply read more. There are tons of journals and books in the in library which you can tap on to gain more information. On the internet, you’ll also find a lot of good information.
In particular, I like to read up on banking software systems because they give you a nice overview of different aspects of banking.
For example, the banking software vendor Temenos publishes free newsletters so you can get insights into how core banking systems work. The software vendor Murex deals with treasury and trading systems and can greatly increase your knowledge of how trades are processed.
Many of these vendors give out free literature free which contain valuable information.
Sure, many of them have a bit of bias towards their own products – but where I find their literature helpful is where they discuss industry issues and problems in the marketplace.
There are also periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and some industry-specific publications in Asia, e.g. The Asian Banker, the Asia Insurance Review – all of them make great reading.
3. Trawl Through Company IC
The other way I like to gain knowledge is to trawl through my company’s intellectual capital (IC) database. Now, I admit I have a bit of any advantage here because I work for a consulting firm – which has great resources devoted to generating knowledge in every conceivable industry and many solution areas too.
If you’re working in an end-user environment, e.g. a bank – you may have less access to intellectual capital, but in larger banks there may be shared drives or knowledge repositories created over time which you can still refer to.
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4. Check With Colleagues
If you work for a professional services company (e.g. the Big Four) or an IT consulting firm, do be sure to ask colleagues on domain knowledge.
The thing with these kind of firms is that you will usually have a project manager or business analyst who has run banking related projects before.
They are a treasure trove of knowledge! Check with them their experiences, lessons learnt and what kind of tools or templates they used before. I’m sure they’d be more than willing to help you.
Alternatively, you can ask me – because I’ve implemented many banking projects too 🙂 ***
5. Walk Into A Bank
You know what? Another way to learn about banking is to actually walk into a bank and observer. I mean really observe.
In one of my projects, we had to develop a customer risk profiling methodology for a global bank. So you know what we did? We got some junior staff to walk into banks and do some “mystery shopping” – essentially to get client risk profiling questionnaires from different banks to see how each bank treated the procedure.
This was great in terms of the insight it provided to the project team and also the clients.
5. Attend Trade Events
Another different way to get domain knowledge for banking is to attend trade events. Banks and banking software companies typically like to organize events for their clients and also hold public talks.
It makes sense for you to go down to some of these events to get to know more people, and also understand some of the current issues which are important in the industry.
Some of these trade events could be free, while others need payment. You may want to tap on your network of colleagues or friends to see if they can get you some “backstage pass” to these events as well.
Wrapping Up …
I hope the above has helped you understand the different ways to get domain knowledge in banking. There are literally a ton of methods you can employ to learn. Of course, the best way to educate yourself is to join a bank and actually work in there for a few years.
But for those of you who can’t do that, then the above tips are some of the best approaches that have worked for me.
Until next time, thanks and have a great time visiting the rest of my website!
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