In the banking industry, a great many certifications are offered to banking professionals, depending on what type of bank at which the professional is employed, and the sorts of banking careers held. These certifications can range include a CBT (Certified Bank Teller), a CFP (Certified Financial Planner), a ChFP (Chartered Financial Planner), a CFMP (Certified Financial Marketing Professional), or a CTFA (Certified Trust Financial Analyst). Also, most positions in mortgage banking require licensing and continuing education. In all situations, a certification (and in some industries, a diploma) can do much to aid professionals in their bank careers. The certification will gain the person education and knowledge and will demonstrate to the employer that the bearer is a professional who is interested in maintaining the professionalism and profitability of the bank.
While it is true that professionals with bachelor’s degrees, and in many situations, master’s degrees, usually hold most senior bank positions, it is also true that only those professionals who have obtained the certifications designed for their particular banking careers gain many senior positions in financial firms. Most retail bank officers and managers hold the CFMP or the CPB, offered by the American Bankers Association. Furthermore, many financial institutions, including the regulatory entities, offer tuition payment or reimbursement to those professionals who are seeking to enhance their employer firms’ knowledge and standing while also pursuing individual ambitions in various banking careers.
What is Certification?
Bank and financial certification courses are offered by a number of different schools, either affiliated with a state university, a trade school, or sponsored by financial associations. Many banking certifications are offered by the American Bankers Association, but certification courses can also be offered by universities such as Boston University and the University of Phoenix, one of the largest online universities in the United States. Banking certification designations are valuable not only to the banking professional by enhancing his or her employment status in the banking industry, but also can help to generate a higher salary. Many regulatory bodies require that certain certifications be held by senior management officers and directors of a banking entity, to ensure that the bank is being operated and managed competently, and therefore the deposits of the bank’s clients are being handled safely and securely.
To be promoted to a management positions, many financial entities frequently require that the prospective manager hold a certification in the subject of the management department, for example, a supervisor for a department of tellers may need to hold the CBT or the Certified Bank Teller designation. The officer of an investment or wealth management bank will most likely hold a CTFA or a Certified Trust Financial Analyst designation. The manager or officer of a lending institution or mortgage-banking branch usually holds a CLBB, or a Certified Lender Business Banker designation. The banking careers designation held will certify that the professional has taken the courses related to the banking profession and has passed the exams to award the designation, ensuring that this professional is at the top of his or her knowledge of the banking field.
To become certified, all courses in the certification course listing must be completed, and the student must obtain a passing grade in each of the final examinations for each course. In addition, most certifications will require continuing education, typically about 30 hours every two years, to maintain the certificate or designation. Many banking certification courses can be enrolled in and pursued online or at evening classes, helping the professional who is working at a daytime banking position to obtain the certification. In addition, many financial entities, particularly the larger firms, are known to offer in-house training for skilled and ambitious employees who wish to pursue certifications in their own banking field. A certification in a certain field can also help to propel the ambitious banking professional from a somewhat lowly position, such as a teller, into a position with more authority, more responsibility, and often, a promotion with the ensuing higher salary.
Types of Certification
Certifications offered by the American Bankers Association include retail certifications, such as the Certified Bank Teller (CBT) designation, the Certified Customer Service Representative, the Certified Financial Marketing Professional, and the Certified Personal Banker designation. In Compliance and Risk Management, designations include the Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager, the Certified Financial Services Securities Operations Professional, and the Certified Information Security Professional. Mortgage lending professionals may seek out the Certified Lender Business Banker designation. Retirement Services and Wealth Management and Trusts professionals can obtain one of eight different designations, apart from any federal securities licenses, from the American Bankers Association.
The Bank Training Center, an online and web-based training school, devoted to certifications in various banking careers and continuing education, offers no less than 26 banking careers certification courses ranging from a Bank Teller Certificate to a Charter Financial Analyst. The Bank Training Center offers designations, certifications, and continuing education through online courses, webinars, audio conferencing, self-study materials, and banking seminars.
To obtain a banking certification, many of the certificates do have certain requirements. An example is the CBT. To take the test and obtain the CBT, a bank teller must have worked a minimum of six months in the teller position, offer a letter of recommendation from a senior bank official, and must sign a professional code of ethics statement.
Most senior banking professionals hold either a four-year bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in finance, accounting, management or a related field, or an MBA, a master’s of business administration. In addition, many senior or management certifications may be difficult to obtain without one of these university degrees, as the subjects in the certifications may be difficult for those who have less education. An example is the Certified Bank Auditor. Without a solid education in accounting and statistics, this certification might be too difficult for someone who may be just out of high school, or who has no experience in auditing specifics. Another example is the Certified Information Security Professional (CFSSP). Most information security is computer and software based, so professionals seeking the CFSSP designation would need to already have the knowledge obtained in either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, along with the experience needed in this particular field in order to understand the complicated subject matter.
Preparing for Certification Tests
To prepare for a certification test, the student must have first completed the designation’s required courses. The course administrator, teacher, or facilitator will advise the students when and where to register for and complete the exam. Exams usually do have a cost that may or may not be separate from the study course materials. Most tests require that the exam be held at an independent testing center, or at the student’s employer’s location, with the requirement that a senior banking official must supervise and certify the exam. Most exams are conducted online, are timed, and typically include multiple choice questions. If the student does not pass the exam on the first try, he or she is usually allowed to retake the test at a later date for an additional fee.
A student would be well advised to register to take the certification test quite soon after completing the course classes and completing all course study materials. If the student waits too long after finishing the course, much detailed information may not be easily accessed or remembered during the exam. Many students can benefit from attending study and discussion groups with other students of the courses. In addition, many courses offer practice tests and hints for specific details that will be examined in the test. If the student has systematically studied the course materials as instructed by the course outline, has completed all course materials, and clearly understands all the materials in the course, he or she should be well prepared to take and pass the certification test. Good study habits will result in a passing grade.