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Roles and careers in retail banking

Last updated: 21 April, 2010
Anjali Mullatti 17:22 IST

PATHFINDER Retail banking may not be glamorous, but it sure is a steady career, writes Anjali Mullatti

SUNRISE CAREER In India, with millions of citizens yet to access banking services, retail banking is a fast growing industry. GETTY IMAGESAs the name suggests, Retail Banking & Finance manages the banking needs of individuals and small businesses. Why are we saying ‘And Finance’? Because Non Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) also offer financing — loans — to individuals, not just banks.

It’s important to know that retail banking is the largest recruiter of all the divisions. It may not be glamourous, but it sure is a steady career. And in India, with millions of citizens yet to access banking services, it is growing fast. Remember, in banking, as in everything else, focus counts. If you focus on an achievable objective you are likely to crack a job. And if the work you do matches your skill sets, there is no stopping you.
So what are the roles at the entry-level, here? Let’s try and classify them into those facing the customer, and those which are purely operational.

-Service roles: These are customer facing roles. The main ones are that of a teller and customer service officer. A teller doesn’t just receive and handout cash, he also handles foreign exchange, gives out demand drafts and manages remittances (payments such as wire transfers, money orders, telegraphic transfers etc). You will see these roles in branches, and public sector banks are the largest recruiters here. The pre-requisite is a graduate degree, preferably in Commerce. You will, of course, need to go through a recruitment exam/interview to get selected.

-What about a customer service officer/personal banker? As the name suggests, his role is to handle all the queries and issues a customer to the branch may have, and he is located in the branch. You will see this role mainly in the private and MNC banks. A personal banker (also called a Relationship Officer/Manager) also has a sales target. This is especially true for someone who joins with an MBA degree — he will be allocated a group of customers and has to manage their requirements as well as understand their needs and sell them products such as loans, mutual funds, gold coins, etc. It is therefore important for him to have a good understanding of retail banking as a whole — as he has to handle any issues which the customer may have across the bank. (“My cheque hasn’t been cleared/ how does my brother open an NRI account/ I need foreign currency etc.). Apart from this knowledge, he should also have good communication skills — which doesn’t mean just the ability to talk, but also the ability to listen and understand what the customer needs. The growth path is typically to a higher profile of customers (with more money!), and then to a branch manager.

Sales roles: These are pure customer facing roles. A sales officer typically is assigned to specific products — either deposit products (called CASA or Current Accounts & Savings Accounts) or loans such as auto loans, personal loans, home loans, etc. Most sales officers just go and pitch their products to the customer. They do not study the customer’s profile, understand her requirements and ask her questions. This is important.
Also remember, a satisfied customer will get you more business. Many sales people also do not know their products well. Study the variants of the product you are selling, and the key processes (documents needed, how long it takes for a loan to get disbursed/account to get opened, etc). Both graduates and MBAs are recruited here. A good sales officer can have a fast growth path, and move up to managing a sales force for a product, groups of products and larger territories.

Operational roles: Typically a role for graduates, roles here involve attention to detail. All the services needed to make sure that the bank’s offerings work properly, get done here. For example, payment processing for a loan, checking the documentation of a loan or new account, cheques and electronic payments are all handled by operations. These are not customer facing roles, but need a high degree of efficiency and ability to manage large volumes of work. Growth can be fast if you achieve this.

Certifications

So how can I get such a job? Are my basic qualifications good enough? Is there any additional certification that will help you learn about and join the retail banking division of a bank?

A certification can prove critical on two important counts; it can provide an edge in the interview and it can show you are focused and know what you want to do with your career.

There aren’t too many, but the prominent ones which give you an overview on banking are:

-Indian Institute of Banking & Finance (IIBF: www.iibf.org.in ): This is an entry-level diploma. You get a set of three books, and write an exam. This is mainly for the Public Sector Banks (PSBs).

-Institute of Banking, Finance & Insurance (IFBI: www.ifbi.com): More private sector oriented, they have entry-level diplomas in banking operations and relationship management. They are offered as classroom sessions over six months.

-Finitiatives Learning India Pvt. Ltd: (FLIP: www.learnwithflip.com): Again more for the private sector, they have entry-level online training & certifications in banking as well as higher level programmes in retail banking.

Try Googling ‘retail banking training certification’, and choose pages from India, to see more choices. While none of these are a must, they certainly help you get an overview of the banking domain, and give you an edge during the recruitment process; they also help you settle into your role faster and perform better.

>> Coming up next: Roles & Careers in Corporate Banking.

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