Unit 5. Career opportunities in banking and finance

Banks are a source of jobs and satisfying professional careers for millions of people. What opportunities are there for careers in banking? If you already have a job in the industry, what opportunities exist for moving up the career ladder into even more challenging positions? To answer these questions, the principal employment options in banking today are described below.

Loan Officers. Most bank managers begin their careers accepting and analyzing loan applications submitted by business and household customers. Bank loan officers make initial contacts with potential new customers and assist them in filling out loan requests and in developing a service relationship with the bank.

Credit Analysts. The credit analyst backstops the work of the loan officer by preparing detailed written assessments of each loan applicant's financial position and capacity to manage money and advises the bank's management on the advisability of granting any particular loan. Credit analysts and loan officers need professional training in accounting, financial statement analysis, and business finance.

Loan Workout Specialists. With the rising numbers of business failures in recent years many loans to businesses and consumers have gone bad, requiring the services of skilled professionals to identify the causes of each problem loan situation and find solutions that maximize the chances for recovering the bank's funds. This is the job of the loan workout specialist, who must have a strong background in accounting, financial statement analysis, business law, and economics, as well as good negotiating skills.

Managers of Bank Operations. Managers in the operations division of a bank are responsible for processing checks and clearing other cash items on behalf of their customers, for maintaining and improving the bank's computer facilities and electronic network, for the activities of tellers, for handling customer problems with their checking accounts and other bank services, for security systems to protect the bank's property from criminal activity, and sometimes for the operation of the bank's personnel (human-resources) department. Managers in the bank operations division need sound training in the principles of business and financial management and in computers and management information systems, and they must have the ability to interact with large groups of people.

Branch Managers. When banks operate large branch systems, many of these functions are supervised by the manager of each branch office. Branch managers lead each branch's effort to attract new accounts, calling on business firms and households in their local area. They also approve many requests (especially larger loans) and resolve customer complaints. Branch managers must know how to manage and motivate employees and how to represent the bank well in the local community.

Systems Analysts. These highly trained computer specialists work with officers and staff in all departments of a bank, translating their production and information needs into programming language. The systems analyst provides a vital link between bankers and computer programmers in making the computer an effective problem-solving tool for management. Systems analysts need in-depth training in computer programming and mathematics as well as courses emphasizing business problem solving.

Auditing and Control Personnel. Keeping abreast of the inflow of revenues and outflow of expenses from a bank and tracking changes in the bank's financial position are the responsibilities of auditors and accountants. These are some of the most important tasks within the bank because they help guard against losses from criminal activity and waste and aid management in pinpointing ways to improve bank efficiency. Jobs as important as these require considerable training in the principles of financial accounting and auditing.

Financial Analysts. These quantitatively skilled professionals often work in a bank's auditing and planning departments. Financial analysts are "number crunchers," who analyze the performance of the bank, its various departments, and its employees. They look for activities that need improvement and identify areas of superior performance within the firm.

Trust Department Specialists. Specialists in a bank's trust department provide a wide variety of customer services to businesses, consumers, and nonprofit institutions. They aid companies in managing their employee retirement programs, issuing securities, maintaining business records, and investing business funds. Consumers also receive help in managing their property and in building an estate for retirement or other purposes. Men and women employed in bank trust departments usually possess a wide range of backgroundsthey know commercial and property law, real estate finance and appraisal techniques, securities investment strategies, financial statement analysis, and marketing techniques.

Personal Banking Services Specialists. Personal bankers are typically responsible for helping individuals and families identify and use the bank's services. This often means taking loan applications, marketing consumer deposits, and advising individuals and families on which of the bank's services meet their particular needs. Personal bankers must have excellent interpersonal skills and an in-depth knowledge of the bank's menu of services.

Tellers. One bank employee that nearly every customer sees and talks with is the tellerthe individual who occupies a fixed station or location within a bank office or drive-in window, receiving deposits and dispensing cash and information. Bank tellers must sort and file deposit receipts and withdrawal slips, verify customer signatures, check account balances, and balance their own cash position at least once each day. Because of their pivotal role in communicating with customers, bank tellers must be friendly with customers, accurate with all of their transactions, and knowledgeable about the other departments of the bank and the services they sell. Most banks hire as tellers people with high school, community college, or four-year university degrees. Part-time tellers are added during periods of peak demand.

Security Analysts and Traders. Security analysts and traders are usually found in a bank's bond department and in its trust department. All banks have a pressing need for individuals skilled in evaluating the businesses and governments issuing securities that the bank might buy and in assessing economic and financial market conditions. Such courses as principles of economics, money and banking, money and capital markets, and investment analysis are usually the best fields of study for a person interested in being a bank security analyst or security trader.

Long-Range Planning and Business Acquisition Specialists. Banks must plan for the long term if they are to survive and effectively meet their competition. Bank planners usually prepare a variety of projected budgets and forecasts, showing what the bank's financial and market position will be under a variety of assumptions about the future. College courses in economics, money and banking, accounting and auditing, business finance and capital budgeting, and financial institutions are particularly good preparation for building a career in this field.

Marketing Personnel. With banks facing greater competition today, they have an urgent need to develop new services and to more aggressively sell existing services tasks that usually fall primarily on a bank's marketing department. This important function requires an understanding of the problems involved in producing and selling services and familiarity with service advertising techniques and cost accounting. College level course work in economics, services marketing, statistics, and business management are especially helpful in this field

Human Resource Managers. A bank's performance in serving the public and in earning adequate returns for its stockholders depends, more than anything else, on the talent, training, and dedication of its management and staff. The job of human resource, or personnel, managers is to find and hire people with superior education and skill and to train them to fill the roles needed by the bank. Most major banks operate intensive management training programs, lasting from 6 months to as long as 18 months, which typically are managed and directed by the human resources division of the bank. In addition, human resource managers keep records on employee performance and counsel employees on ways to improve their performance and opportunity for promotion.

International Finance and Business Development Specialists. The market for banking services is becoming global in scale. Business customers frequently need loans, credit guarantees, help with floating new security issues, and analyses of business conditions in foreign markets supplied by their banks. Men and women interested in this exciting banking field will require college level training in business finance, marketing, corporate accounting, and international trade.

Foreign Exchange Traders. A handful of the largest banks buy and sell foreign currencies on behalf of their own account and for their customers who are traveling or trading abroad. Foreign exchange traders within a bank search the market for the best prices on pounds, francs, yen, and other currencies and try to profit from currency-trading operations. They must also be able to negotiate with other currency traders and with the bank's customers. They often travel extensively, and they must be able to learn quickly and make decisions rapidly while under great pressure

Investment Banking Specialists. Banks are becoming increasingly involved in assisting their business customers with the issue of bonds, notes, and stock to raise new capital, and they frequently render advice on financial market opportunities and on business mergers and acquisitions. This is the dynamic, fast-paced field of investment bankingone of the highest paid and most challenging areas in the financial marketplace. Investment banking personnel must have intensive training in accounting, economics, money and banking, strategic planning, investments, international finance, and a number of related areas.

Bank Examiners and Regulators. Because banks are among the most heavily regulated of all business firms, there is an ongoing need for men and women to supervise and examine bank financial statements and operating policies and to prepare and enforce banking regulations. Bank regulatory agencies such as the FDIC hire bank examiners and other regulatory personnel from time to time, often by visiting college campuses or as a result of phone calls and letters from applicants. Because they must supervise bankstheir financial condition and compliance with regulationsexaminers and regulators must have knowledge of accounting principles, business management methods, economics, and banking laws and regulations.


What career opportunity in banking would you prefer? Why? What background would you need for it?


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