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A candidate needs to complete graduation in any stream. - Clerical job to branch head to country head National Institute of Bank Management ( NIBM), NIBM Post Office, Kondhwe Khurd, Pune- 411048 .

While nationalized banks struggle with their baggage from our socialist past, winds of change are sweeping other segments. Modern day banks are not mere suppliers of money. They have become providers of a wide range of services. Provided the government rectifies its policies, banks can provide a host of services such as selling insurance, mutual funds and investment opportunities, as in other countries. More dramatic are the developments in technology. Today, traditional business models are being challenged. Customers can do all their banking transactions while sitting at home. Banks are introducing Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) cards and, lately, debit cards as well. This promises to change the face of banking forever.

There is also a viewpoint that traditional banks may not survive in this century. Banks and providers of other financial services, it is argued, stand between lenders and borrowers. The Internet threatens to put these two groups directly in touch with each other. Should this happen, will it not reduce the function of banks?

The Internet is thus a great force for "disintermediation". Unlike other items of manufacture, money can be stored and transmitted electronically, and once this trend catches up, it may well lead to the "fourth disintermediation" in the banking sector. The first was the growth of mutual funds and insurance policies which ate into bank deposits, the second was the development of capital markets, and the third was advances in technology. In many developed countries, Internet banks have drawn away deposits from traditional banks. These could be early signs of an upheaval that we may well witness in the present decade. Technological advances may well make online storing and payments so secure that people will turn to electronic banks. It will not be surprising if firms use the Internet for raising finance as well, without the assistance of banks, in the future.

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 nationalized banks, but with liberalization, 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.

Recruitment for the public sector banks is done through the Banking Service Recruitment Boards (BSRBs). The advertisements for recruitment appear in newspapers as well as the Employment News.

Recruitment is done on the basis of a written test, which consists of :

  • Test of Reasoning
  • Quantitative Aptitude
  • General Awareness
  • English Language
  • Descriptive Test

The test is qualifying in nature and the marks obtained are not added in the final merit list. It is held on Sundays. 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 five tests is essential. All the sections are adequately covered by The Competition Master. To supplement their efforts, candidates may refer to books published by Khanna Brothers, Chandigarh.

It is advisable to do the basics first. These can be done from class 10 books. 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 the model paragraphs and descriptive 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 nationalized banks is done through the BSRB, recruitment in private banks is direct. The jobs are considered more glamorous as most private banks give preference to high value accounts. One route is to join these banks after serving for some years in a nationalized bank. But these banks recruit MBAs and Chartered Accountants directly as well. 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 specialized course in banking from a number of universities offering such courses.

Among these are :

National Institute of Bank Management ( NIBM),
NIBM Post Office
Kondhwe Khurd, Pune- 411048.

University of Madras
Centenary Buildings, Chepauk
(which offers a Certificate course in Banking.)

The Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh-202 002
(offers a 1-year course.)

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
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
Kolhapur-416 004.

Marathwada University
Aurangabad-431 604.

Bhartidasan University
Palkalai Perum
Tiruchirapalli-620 024.

Manipur University
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 computerization 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 finalized, 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.

Outside India, an individual who has undergone the rigors of a banking course can get lucrative jobs like that of a Project Finance Manager, Equity and Fixed Income Settlements Specialists, Commercial Finance Manager, Compliance Officer, Corporate Banking Trade Analyst, Cash Management Operator, Consumer Banking Asset Operator, Investment Banking, Business Analyst, Market Risk Analyst, Corporate Banking Credit Analyst, Consumer Banking Asset Operation Manager, Forex Head, Corporate Banking Branch Head, in banks like ABN AMRO, Deutsche Bank, Barclays Plc, HSBC, Citi Bank N.A. Dresdner Bank, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Standard Chartered Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and others.

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