I have a confession to make; I am no longer a banker. It is a job that takes a certain kind of person to do. I was told this from the beginning, and in the end I just didn’t have what it took. However, if you do think you are cut out for the job, here are some helpful tips to get started.
1. Always keep your passwords, code numbers, and money protected.
Banks exist on the foundation of money security. With that being said, they take this obligation very seriously. One of the strangest things to get used to was locking my computer. It seems trivial, but with the world becoming more and more technologically advanced, having someone’s personal information can be more harmful than anything. Banks want employees to trust each other to a certain extent, but never trust anyone with information that could give them the ability to access information through your name. Most importantly, when it comes to money, follow bank protocol every time.
2. It is okay to screw up (to a certain extent), the bank expects it.
Cash flow is constant at a bank and, because of it, banks take an enormous loss on teller errors yearly. It’s okay to be off-balance; it happens less and less as you get used to what you are doing. The important thing to remember is that you should never false-balance (telling the system your money adds up when it really doesn’t), not even if you’re off a penny. The bank sees that as a breach of trust and feels that if you are willing to lie about a penny, you are willing to lie about a lot more. You may not get caught the first time, but you will eventually. Another thing you encounter is accidentally putting the wrong amount of money into an account, or putting the money in the wrong account altogether. This mistake is a lot more common than you’d think, especially when you are new. The good news is that banks use both the latest technology and still keep an old fashion paper trail. This allows banks to find and reverse any problem within 24 hours.
3. It is a sales job, and you always have to remember that.
Here is the scenario I was in: I came from a strong retail background. I had worked at a large pet store for years before going to the bank. I was working with pets and was passionate about it. And because of that, I truly believed in the products I sold there. To me, sales was easy and I thought the transition would be smooth. However, even though being a banker requires a prestige level of sales experience, which I have, it also takes a new level of experience I didn’t have. As a banker, you have to sell something that is not tangible, you sell a mix between security, money earned, and money saved. Bankers make a lot of phone calls daily and in my opinion they use some questionable sales techniques. For example, when I first started, I was taught how to use a certain tone of voice to leave a message that doesn’t say something is wrong, but definitely implied it. That was my downfall at the bank, I couldn’t stand the unethical sales tactics.
4. Leave the job at the workplace.
Banks always have some sort of incentive going on. There are always yearly, monthly, and daily goals. It’s hard to have a great day one day only to have to come back tomorrow and try to do it all over again. That’s another thing that ultimately resulted in my departure. Corporate will tell you a banker’s job is maintaining service for customers we already have and ensuring they have everything they are best suited for but that doesn’t work on the branch level of banking. There is a mentality at a bank of: tomorrow doesn’t count yet and yesterday doesn’t matter anymore, what are you going to do today? The same guys at corporate that told you it’s about actively building up current customer relationships are the same ones making sales goals that are unobtainable without bringing in new customers. With your corporate saying one thing and your branch saying another, it gets incredibly overwhelming. Everyone had their own ways of dealing with it, mine personally inspired this tip. I worked hard to keep my work and my life separate. I liked to look at it as a game, my time at work was a play clock and my sales were points. Some days I won, some days I lost. The important thing to take from it is, once the play clock stopped, the game was over and there was nothing I could do about it except try to win the next one. If you don’t find a way to deal with the stress of work it will consume your personal life, so come up with something.
5. Customers only come in when they are unhappy, don’t take it personally.
They always used to tell us we were the “face of the bank” but I like to think of it as more of an infantry than a face. One of the scariest things that happened to me at the bank was when a woman called frantically screaming at me. Her account had been frozen because she had overdrafted … a lot. She told me that her son had a condition and needed his treatment today. There wasn’t anything I could do about it, because she owed the bank so much money that even if I reversed all her fees, she would still owe the bank. She spent an hour yelling at me and ended it by saying that I was killing her son. It was a miserable experience, one that I do not wish on anyone.
The thing is, people don’t understand how banks work. Take overdraft protection, for example, the concept is that overdraft protection should be used in emergencies only. Like say, somebody robs you of all your cash and you don’t have the money for gas to get home. The bank will cover you for a certain amount, and charge a fee so that you can get that money now. It is a loan more or less, with a huge interest rate. People don’t get that you shouldn’t use it unless you absolutely have to. When they see their account is negative and they have been charged gratuitous amounts, they come in looking to take it out on someone. You can’t let it get to you. It isn’t personal, what you do need to do is pick up quickly on who needs to have a problem fixed and who needs to just vent. Some people are just frustrated and need to vent. The best thing you can do is recognize whose there for help, whose there to just vent then help them as much as you can and in the end, happy or not when they walk away they’ll at least appreciate that you personally tried.
I hope this article doesn’t deter anyone seeking a job in banking. My experience with the bank isn’t the most pleasant, but there are huge benefits to staying. They have phenomenal health coverage, always room for advancement, and they know how to treat their employee’s right. In the end, being a banker just wasn’t for me, but it might be for you.