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Monday, March 22, 2010

Careers in Banking


Banking has emerged as one of the most challenging sectors in the country. Openings are available at various levels, from Bank Clerical to Probationary Officers (PO). There is great job security and the salary is very good, besides the perquisites of loans for employees. It is a lucrative career: till recently careers existed only in nationalised banks, but with liberalisation, a host of private banks have been set up. As a result, demand for trained professionals has increased substantially. The private banks offer better salaries but then the job security is also less.

The advertisements for recruitment appear from time to time in newspapers as well as the Employment News. Recruitment is done on the basis of a written test, which consists of:

a) Test of Reasoning
b) Quantitative Aptitude
c) General Awareness
d) English Language
e) Descriptive Test

Except for the descriptive portion, all other sections contain objective-type questions. In Reasoning, there is verbal and non-verbal sections. In English, the test is aimed at judging the overall comprehension and understanding of the language. The Descriptive Paper can be answered in English or Hindi. It judges the written expression of the candidates. All sections must be qualified.
How to Prepare
Bank exams -- both clerical and PO -- are taken by lakhs of candidates. There is intense competition as the number of vacancies is small. A high degree of preparation is required in order to get through.

To be successful, regular practice in all the sections is essential. All the sections are adequately covered by The Competition Master.

It is advisable to do the basics first. After this, start doing section tests, from Reasoning, Maths, English, etc. Try to get a good score in each section. After that, do some full-length tests which contain all the sections, within the stipulated time. Candidates are also advised to prepare for the interview simultaneously and take care to develop their personality and confidence. After the written examination, the short-listed candidates are called for an interview. General questions are asked to check the candidate's General Awareness and relevant issues related to Economics.

For the Descriptive Paper, refer to sample questions published in The Competition Master. The candidate must have a good expression and the sentences must be grammatically correct. An important aspect is hand-writing. Many candidates write almost illegibly, which examiners cannot read. They are thus unable to get a good score. Efforts must be made to improve your handwriting as well, as this could be a major shortcoming in the written paper. Apart from this, it may be said that the candidate must be aware of current issues to be able to write something on them.

There are a number of books and correspondence courses available for bank preparatory examinations. There is, however, no substitute for self-study and self-preparation. Regular studies, systematic preparations, self-confidence and regular practice, is all that is required to pass this exam.
Different routes
While recruitment in nationalised banks is done through competitive exams, recruitment in private banks is mostly direct. The private sector banks recruit MBAs and Chartered Accountants  directly. Lower down the line, fresh graduates can hope to find jobs as direct marketing executives, personal banking executives and home banking executives. For such jobs, all that is needed is a pleasing personality.

One can also do a specialised course in banking from a number of universities offering such courses.

Among these are:
University of Madras, Centenary Buildings, Chepauk, Chennai-600005, which offers a Certificate course in Banking.
The Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh-202 002, offers a 1-year course.
One can also do a Diploma in Bank Administration from Ravishankar University, Raipur-492 010.
Guru Ghasidas University, PO Koni, Bilaspur-495 009.
Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak-124 001.
Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara-390 002.

Other universities offering diplomas or certificate courses in different aspects of banking (law, management and administration, masters degree) are:

Gujarat University, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad-380 003.
Utkal University, PO Vani Vihar, Bhubaneshwar-751 004.
Annamalai University, PO Annamalai Nagar-608 002; Sri Venkateshwara University, Tirupati-517 502.
SNDT Women's University, 1, Nathibai Thackeray Road, Mumbai-400 020.
University of Rajasthan, Jaipur-302 004.
Shivaji University, Vidyanagar, Kolhapur-416 004.
Marathwada University, Aurangabad-431 604.
Bhartidasan University, Palkalai Perum, Tiruchirapalli-620 024.
Manipur University, Canchipur, Imphal-795 003.

The eligibility criteria is different for different courses and candidates are advised to check these out directly from the universities concerned.
Job Prospects
As banking is a growing industry, the job prospects are good. In nationalised banks, one can expect regular promotions while in private banks it is performance that is rewarded. Promotions may be swift for deserving candidates. But it is not necessary to be a banking professional only to get into banks. As financial services are getting automated, the industry requires a large number of computer experts, both in computer maintenance and software. Private computer service contractors are also in great demand. It would be important to have a BE or MCA degree for such jobs.

Bank jobs come with responsibility. As the banker handles other people's money, it is a job that requires trust. The person must also be service-oriented and like to look after customers. This is where private banks score over nationalised banks, but as profitability begins to play a major role in nationalised banks, there is bound to be pressure there as well to keep customers happy.

One reason to be excited about banking as a career is the rapid change taking place. Not only is there fresh competition, but technology promises to change the face of banking forever. The jobs are becoming comfortable, in the sense that the physical environment is pleasing and computerisation has taken the load off tedious jobs such as balancing accounts. As competition increases, a good banker will certainly be in great demand.

On the other hand, a career in banking entails frequent transfers. Also, it must be remembered that a banking job involves working long hours. When accounts are to be finalised, a bank employee has to put in long hours indeed.

Assess your aptitude before you join a career in banking.

All jobs require hard work. The personality required is a mix: for marketing and meeting customers an outgoing personality is required, while for keeping accounts a diligent and persevering attitude is required.

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