With the financial crises of the late 2000s, bank careers went into in a severe slump, making it difficult to find employment in this field. However, if you’re concerned that it’s going to be more difficult to find a job in banking than in other careers, don’t be. Your concerns were warranted, but the worst of the crisis has passed, according to most experts. Making things even better is the fact that many banks and other financial institutions will be doing “catch up” hiring, to make up for the years when they did no hiring at all. So the next few years look extremely favorable for the field. Keep reading our site to find out all you need to know about landing the career of your dreams.
Banks and credit unions sell and service a myriad of financial products, and collectively hold billions of dollars in assets, commercial and personal accounts, and policies. The people who are employed in various banking positions manage all manner of money transactions made by banks and credit unions every day. Banks can be small, locally owned banks in rural areas, with local customers who are loyal to the bank owners and managers who are their neighbors. Careers at these banks tend to be very stable, longstanding jobs, with close relationships among the local residents and customers. Banks can also be huge multi-national financial institutions that handle millions of transactions daily. Large financial institutions and credit unions offer various options for the person seeking a position in a financial institution, with vast opportunities for advancement and promotion within the large departments of the company.
- The history of banks and the people who work with money goes back to ancient times in Persia around the year 300 AD when “bankers” issued letters of credit to “borrowers”.
- The word “bank” comes from the ancient Italian word “banca”, which meant a bench or a counter. Italian bankers during the Renaissance times of high international trade plied their business of money changing and lending from “bancas” or benches set up as tables in bustling market squares.
In the United States, most banking business has been derived from English common law regarding banks, with significant changes over the centuries, particularly those that have become law after directives from Congress and other federal institutions. Generally, banking business is defined as holding money for customers, paying money drawn on customers’ accounts, loaning money to customers, and collecting interest from borrowers. The same business model applies to credit unions and savings and loan institutions, with some exceptions for market focus in these firms. Banking for centuries was conducted entirely by the various staff employed by the banks, and accounts were recorded by the hand of a bank employee. Since the advent of computers, the Internet, and EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at point of sale) it may seem that computers might someday replace nearly all the jobs in banking in the past. Nothing could be further from the truth, as banks are bigger than ever, employ more people than ever in the past, and many jobs and duties must still be handled or overseen by a person.
- Banks and credit unions employ many people for various positions. At the core of a bank are bank tellers, bank or branch managers, loan and mortgage officers, credit analysts, and office or administrative staff.
- Larger banks employ many different levels of each of those five positions, according to the responsibility of the position. Additionally, larger banks also employ other company staff, such as human resources, personnel, payroll, information technology (computers and software), and marketing staff, similar to what would be found at any large company.
Qualities Required to Succeed in the Banking Field
People who choose to go into banking should be very well organized, enjoy numbers and money, and must have excellent math and computer skills. They should also have good communication skills, be good at dealing with people, and be service-oriented. Someone desiring to go into the banking industry must be good with detail and numbers. Financial institutions need to hire people who are trustworthy and honest as well as people who are able to read and calculate or balance numbers correctly. As the federal government regulates many aspects of the banking industry, individuals looking for careers in the financial
industry should be able to adhere to all the rules and regulations that banks must follow.
- Anyone considering a career in a service industry should enjoy working with people and meeting their service needs. Working with people in a banking setting requires patience and acceptance of people from all walks of life and in all kinds of financial shape. Those who choose to do so will work with the specific transactional details of many different people. He or she will need to focus on the details of the transactions while making the customer feel satisfied and confident that the banking employee has successfully aided the customer with their service need.
- Applicants interested in going into banking should have at least a high school diploma or a GED for most entry-level positions. A college degree in accounting, finance, business, or other math-related field, such as actuarial science, credit analysis, or insurance will assist the job applicant not only when initially hired, but also when seeking promotions within the banking industry.
- As the banking industry today is computer-automated and dependent on the Internet for many transactions, banking professionals must be computer literate and must be proficient with accounting procedures and accounting software. If the employee is a trainee or a newly-hired person without that skill set, he or she must at least able to learn. This is not a career for a dyslexic person or someone who does not enjoy accounting, mathematical details, or adhering closely to many rules and regulations. A bank sells services and products that relate to money and interest, and these fields follow numerous and stringent rules. Add that to the many and various regulations, procedural rules, fair trade practices and consumer protections, and one can see that those who choose a career in banking should be comfortable with both the vagaries of the public as well as following many rules and regulations.
- A person with good people skills who is successfully able to troubleshoot issues and negotiate details might make a good mortgage broker. A person with good analytical skills who can see the “big” picture out of many numbers may make a great economic analyst. Someone who has the skill of managing people and encouraging teams of people to work well together might make a good bank manager. A lawyer who enjoys digging into the details of a fraudulent financial scheme, with pages and pages of numbers and contracts, may be a great legal analyst for a regulatory body. A person who prefers to work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, perhaps because of family issues, may enjoy working as a bank teller at a small local bank. Someone who prefers to work nights, weekends, or varying shifts and who likes to work at a computer and a telephone may make an excellent loan officer for an online bank.
Banks offer many job opportunities, schedules, duties, and career path options for people today, for those with a high school education as well as those with secondary degrees. Most banking firms offer excellent benefits, including medical insurance and disability insurance, sick leave and vacation, and retirement options. Banking firms are highly regulated and supervised financial operations, making them excellent environments for a safe, pleasant, and rewarding places to work. These careers offer integrity and stability.
Advantages of Careers in Banking
There are many advantages to these careers. A position in banking is a good fit for a person who enjoys working with both numbers and the public. Working directly with the public can be both stimulating and exciting – but it takes a special person with a patient temperament. Working with the public can be difficult at times, but it can also be very rewarding. If you like numbers and accounting, but maybe don’t especially like working with the public, you might enjoy being an actuary. If you like working with people and counting money but don’t like a lot of responsibility and don’t like research, you might enjoy being a bank teller or a mortgage broker.
- Most retail banks, with a few exceptions, offer daily shift times and allow most employees to enjoy free time on weekends, evenings, and holidays. Usually, credit unions and banks are rarely open on holidays, but some call centers and retail banks, particularly those located inside a grocery store or department store, are frequently open on weekends and some evenings. The advantage for professionals who choose banking is that they can frequently choose to go to work for a bank with a schedule that will fit the needs of their personal life.
- Most banks have excellent benefit packages, offering medical, dental, and life insurance benefits as well as retirement plan options and personal or sick leave days and vacation benefits. Offices are always clean and pleasant, heated or air conditioned, since personal comfort, both for the employee as well as for the customer, is of utmost importance. Banks are required to be regularly examined and audited, and must follow many regulations and procedural rules and fair trade practices, making a bank or a regulatory agency a highly supervised and safe environment for all employees.
- Banking institutions offer many opportunities for advancement, and many banks will even pay for or reimburse the talented employee for continuing education courses, as well as courses toward a college degrees, with some requirements. Banks and banking regulatory agencies offer many opportunities for advancement for ambitious professionals. A skilled and knowledgeable banking professional will be in demand for promotions both within his or her own bank (depending on the bank’s size), as well as in other competing banks with similar departments. Banking is an industry that is not projected to go away in the near or far future–far from it. With the growing economy in many developing countries as well as our own, and with the continuous growth in population, there will continue to be a growing need for banks to hold and loan money, to make monetary transactions, and to keep hiring people.
Disadvantages of Bank Careers
One of the biggest disadvantages of bank careers is that serving the public can often be extremely stressful. Money issues are sensitive topics for most people, and customers can be quite rude and may become irate if the transaction is not correct or not handled perfectly to their satisfaction. A banking professional must be willing to work tactfully and carefully with a bank’s customers, and must be able to confidently and correctly handle all banking transactions.
- To work in the banking industry, the professional must be good with numbers, cash, and money, and must be able to be patient and diligent in the accounting duties.
- This is not a career for someone who is casual with finances. The professional must be willing to take the responsibility of large amounts of money and must be able to carefully account for all the monies under his or her care.
- This is also not a career for someone who dislikes using the computer or an adding machine – nor is it a career for someone who hates to balance a checkbook.
- While there are a myriad of possible career choices in banking, they all center around two things: money, and the accounting of money.
To be successful, the banking employee must enjoy wearing professional dress such as a suit, dress shirt and tie for men, or a pantsuit, dress, or skirt suit for women, and dress shoes. A person who prefers the casual dress of jeans and t-shirts or a uniform shirt and khaki pants may feel out of place dressing to impress in a bank setting. The practice of a professional dress code for the banking industry came from the need to portray both an attitude of wealth and strength along with a conservative and professional attitude toward the money that the bank holds on behalf of its customers. In the banking industry, casual dress may infer that “we play around a lot and don’t care what we do or what we look like”, but a professional, understated, wardrobe is supposed to convey the message that “we pay attention to detail and take care with your money”.
Some positions require that employees stand on their feet all day, such as a bank teller. Others demand that the employee stay at a desk, hunched over the computer screen, crunching numbers or formulating reports. A person would be well advised to determine all the negatives and weigh them against the benefits before deciding on a career in the banking field.