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Careers In Banking And Finance
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Erica Said:What are careers in banking like?
We Answered:If your idea of banking is sitting at a counter all day taking in and paying out cash, it's time to move on!
Modern banking is about highly trained staff delivering top quality service to customers, whatever their financial needs. Whether you are processing cheques or deciding whether to lend, you carry responsibility for making sure that that service is delivered.
Many of the services provided by banks are now also offered by other financial institutions such as building societies, insurance companies and even supermarkets. The intense competition means that banks need top quality staff who are reliable and, of course, totally trustworthy. Good communication skills are essential; you need to be able to quickly grasp the essential elements of the job and be able to explain complex issues in jargon-free terms to customers.
At GCSE level, your first job would probably be processing cheques so that they could meet the strict deadlines for overnight delivery to the bank's Head Office. You could also be involved in answering customers' queries and after suitable training, become one of the bank's front line ambassadors as a cashier. If you show aptitude and initiative, you could become a supervisor, carrying responsibility for your own team of staff. With A levels you would move through the duties faster and by gaining the professional banking exams, you could be in charge of your own branch.
Graduates can expect to be placed on a fast track learning course, spending about two years moving through different jobs within the bank to get to know how the bank works before moving into a management position. The graduate route is the way a bank grooms people for senior management positions.
Managers spend a large proportion of their time meeting customers either at the branch or at the customer's premises. They need to have a wide knowledge of the financial services available and know when to bring in specialist advisers from other areas of the bank. Managers are often active members of local trade bodies and associations and give talks to community organisations and schools.
Training in banks is thorough; most banks have their own residential training colleges and staff will also attend internal and external courses. All staff can expect to attend regular training courses throughout their career to keep up to date with new developments.
The management structure in banking varies considerably. Large branches may have a management team which would include individual managers responsible for lending, administration, audit and operations. At the other end of the scale, one manager could be responsible for several small branches. Many banking jobs are in specialist areas such as IT or corporate banking, which deals with the accounts of business customers. Many banks have central customer enquiry centres which handle telephone enquiries from customers anywhere in the country.
Working hours are generally 9am until 5pm, but working patterns can vary. Some branches open on Saturdays and some are even starting to open on Sundays.
Processing and telephone banking operations centres often operate a shift system.
Salaries depend on responsibility and location. Most banks operate an annual appraisal system and salary increases are awarded according to your performance during the year. Profit sharing, subsidised mortgage and non-contributory pension schemes often form part of the remuneration package. Larger banks, particularly in the London area, have extensive sports and social facilities covering a range of activities including sailing, golf, tennis and football.
Author: Brian Capon, British Bankers' Association: www.bba.org.uk/
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