Money has become probably the single most important aspect in the human struggle for existence in today’s materialistic world. Not surprisingly, careers related to money management are not only highly sought after, but also extremely rewarding. Thus it is not surprising to witness the popularity of banking.
While it may seem that banking as a career is open only to students of commerce or economics, nothing can be farther from the truth. “The banking industry has been recruiting people from all fields of education. The last few years have seen the recruitment of B.Tech and MBA students as an increasingly favoured trend. In fact, if a survey was to be carried out, it would be observed that professionally qualified people from other streams are employed in larger numbers in banks than commerce students” opines Amit Prakash, Assistant Manager at a public sector bank in Mumbai and a qualified MCA.
A banking career is no longer merely about cash transactions. Banks today, offer a wide range of products and services. Says Rajesh Belani, a branch manager at HDFC Bank, “Banks today play the role of financial institutions that provide retail services to customers. There is no more any such thing as core banking. Banks have evolved into a kind of retail system where all services need to be offered under one roof.” A melange of choices is thus available to anyone who wants to take up a career in banking. Some options include the areas of general and branch banking, specialised financial services like treasury, credit, merchant banking, retail and institutional marketing and information technology. Banks are also increasingly looking to expand their operations into audit, corporate affairs, corporate secretariat, consumer banking, human resources, finance, compliance and assurance, procurement and vendor management (PVM), corporate real estate services (CRES), risk management, group technology and operations (GTO) and wholesale banking. Undeniably, creating a huge demand for skilled manpower in theses areas. K.S. Prasanna, Divisional Manager, Canara Bank Merchant Banking says, “There is a general marketing thrust being given to merchant banking. Look out for openings in the areas of accounts, services, administration and operations.”
Banks have also got increasingly active in the areas of mutual funds, securitisation, credit cards, consumer loans, housing loans and trading in gold and forex. The need for professionals across the banking sector- whether public sector, foreign or multinational banks, has seen large-scale recruitment of MBA graduates, CAs and CFAs to enhance efficiency. The emergence of technology-driven new private banks has also created a demand for more professionals.
While most banks don’t necessarily need a prospective employee to have prerequisite knowledge of banking, those with some knowledge of or inclination towards finance are given preference. There are many jobs in banks that require only basic minimum educational qualification like graduation. However, some senior level positions demand specialisations in areas like project analysis, credit appraisal skills, managing huge loan portfolios and foreign exchange. Good computer skills are also almost always preferred. Public sector banks mainly recruit graduates for clerical posts on the basis of an all-India level examination. A separate test at the all-India level is conducted for recruitment of the cadre of officers in which candidates are chosen from amongst engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc. Private sector and foreign banks prefer professionals like MBAs, CAs, CFAs for junior positions who they recruit through campus recruitment drives and interviews. At the senior positions, however, experienced bankers are preferred.
A lot of institutes now offer certificate courses in banking and related subjects. Some of these courses help one gain an edge in the industry. The Indian Institute of Banking and Finance offers various options like e-learning, coaching classes, professional development programmes and certification in professional competency standards. The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology offers numerous programmes to private and public sector candidates aimed at strengthening their base in the banking and finance sector and keeping them up-to-date with technological advances in the field. Besides these, the National Institute of Bank Management¸ Indira Gandhi National Open University, University of Madras, The Aligarh Muslim University, Maharishi Dayanand University, Gujarat University, Utkal University, Annamalai University, SNDT Women’s University, University of Rajasthan and Manipur University are a few other universities that offer such certificate courses. A lot of banks nowadays also hold their own training programmes for new candidates. “We put new recruits through on-the-job training and every candidate is expected to undertake a minimum of one week’s training”, says Belani. Prasanna supports the fact that most banks now prefer to have new candidates go through their own training programme postselection.
“A prospective candidate needs to be well versed with market conditions. A lot depends on how well he is able to pitch the services of the bank to a customer. Good interpersonal skills and an aggressive, confident approach to tackling problems, hence are essential,” reveals Belani. Prasanna agrees, “An individual must possess the right aptitude and a lot of interest in the work along with the willingness to learn on the job. Marketing talent too proves important.”
In general, banking entails a large number of interpersonal relationships; hence good sales and communication skills combined with analytical skills, an ability to synthesise and a sense of initiative are desired. Banks prefer candidates with some basic accounting skills and strong work ethics. Also, since most banking jobs have long working hours, desirous candidates must be prepared to put in hard work and have the ability to withstand long work hours.
Private sector banks generally offer pay packages with a strong emphasis on performance through variable bonuses. According to Belani, money is not an issue in this industry, especially if the candidate is deserving. While basic salaries range between Rs 25000 to Rs 30000 a month for officers, performance-based incentives can be as high as a twelve month basic salary as well.
Pay-scales in nationalised banks are governed by the Reserve Bank of India and the Pay Commission of the Finance Ministry. Here too, the range of salaries is very attractive and is based on a scale system. While staff at a lower-scale earn between Rs 10000 – Rs 18000 a month, officers on a higher scale can draw anything in the range of Rs 20000 – Rs 26000. High officer cadres can earn up to around Rs 32000 per month. In addition to the monetary packages, some banks also offer leased housing facilities, medical and health insurance and loan options.
D Gautam, management trainee at a public sector bank in Mumbai opines that there is a strong policy against lateral hires. He says, “Public sector banks favour promoting people through the ranks. However, no such restrictions prevail in private sector banks where good performance is usually rewarded on time by way of attractive bonuses and promotions.” Moreover, given the scale of operations of most banks today, one has the opportunity to explore the various departments and aspects of banking in a relatively shorter time.
Having said that, it is wise to conclude that the banking sector provides a steady path for growth and handsome salaries for aspiring candidates.
Among the other courses one can even study for CFP Certification. Click on the VRIDHI Institute page for more details.