By: Mary Gilmeister, AAP, NCP, President and CEO, MACHA
Center for Payments Executive Committee Member
Many times, when we talk about the value of payments accreditations, we emphasize the aspects of recognition, increased knowledge, and improved professional opportunities, among others. And while all of those should be touted, it’s important that we also highlight the benefits of accreditation outside of professional growth and development – specifically succession planning.
As president of Macha, I am well established in my career, and I can’t deny the opportunities afforded me because of my accreditations. As an Accredited ACH Professional (AAP) and a National Check Professional (NCP), my unique experience and skillset opened doors, locally and on a national scale, that would have typically been closed. It propelled me to new roles with increased duties and responsibilities that fulfilled me professionally. In addition, these accreditations nurtured my commitment to lifelong learning and enhanced my knowledge of payments topics, deepening an expertise that generates respect both inside and outside the workplace.
And it aided the organizations I serve as well. There are approximately 2 million banking professionals in the U.S.[i] But fewer than 6,000 hold typical payments accreditations like the AAP, NCP, or Accredited Payments Risk Professional (APRP). So, the institutions that employ those accredited professionals enjoy a reputation and distinction as leaders, go-to organizations, and shining examples of a commitment to the highest standards of payments competency, quality, and security within the industry.
But the makeup of the banking industry will soon be changing. Not surprising, but older professionals make up a large portion of the financial services workforce. Data shows that 60 to 65 percent of all bank employees are over 40.[ii] But the next generation is making its presence in the workforce known – in a big way. Today, millennials make up the largest segment in the workplace. By 2030, they will make up 75 percent of the workforce.[iii] And Gen Z currently represents 20 percent of the workforce, and within the next five years, they will become the fastest-growing working generation.[iv] [v]As such, now is the time to cultivate and groom what will soon become the largest segment of the workforce for the opportunity of accreditation so that our institutions can continue to stand out as leaders and experts in our field.
And across the industry, I think we are beginning to see this happen. For example, the APRP designation recipients grew from 204 recipients in 2019 to over 360 in 2020.[vi] [vii] That’s more than 75 percent growth in APRP accreditations within a workforce that we know is made up of predominantly millennials.
I consider it a testament to our leaders’ convictions as mentors and our young people who want to grow and continue learning and see their institutions continue to thrive. Along with the rest of the industry, they recognize that ACH payments will continue to be a fundamental component of the payments system. They know that while checks are on the decline, they are not going away anytime soon. And they understand that being on top of the trends to mitigate risk associated with these payments can only support their efforts to further their personal growth and the success of their organizations.
The value of payments accreditations can’t be understated. Not only do they serve as important tools for professional development, but they can also be vital to the ongoing health and status of the financial services workforce. As leaders, we must look at accreditations as our way to pass the torch, as a way to share the “historical knowledge” needed for our organizations to continue to compete and lead as the payments experts within financial services. We must equip tomorrow’s payments professionals with the accreditation tools that can help ensure their success and organizational success.
For more information about payments accreditations, contact your payments association.