The Nigerian banking work environment has recently gained the attention of powers that be, people are beginning to ask questions about some actions and in-actions of top managements in commercial banks especially policies that has to do with welfare of its employees and unrealistic targets placed on them.
Well this article is not about “targets”, as that has to be a story for another day. This is about some of the practices that happens in the bank that you never knew exists. It is true that every organization out there have rules of engagement which employees must abide by and to the best of my knowledge this is standard practice.
But why would you be interested to know what happens in the bank behind the scene in the first place? Let’s say you gave your neighbor some good amount of money to keep, and all of a sudden your beloved neighbor started upgrading his kitchen aroma, and you notice some change in the standard of living, wouldn’t you get worried about your money? Yes you do want to know what happens behind the banking hall! We are talking about people whose custody our money lies.
In this piece am going to enumerate some of the practices both written and unwritten policies which guides bankers in the discharge of their duties. Anyway since our lawmakers are investigating bank managements, I will help them speed up the process for quicker result (pun intended).
The following are my personal experience over the years in the industry:
BANKERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO OWN ACCOUNTS IN OTHER BANKS: Bank employees are not allowed to operate bank accounts in other commercial banks, this is to enable them know everything about your financial standing. If you previously own accounts before your appointment, it is expected that you declare them. But make sure you are not making false declaration or else the CCT will be your guest (pun intended).
YOUR ACCOUNT BALANCE MUST BE PROPORTIONAL TO YOUR MONTHLY SALARY: While you are expected to save all your money in one account in your bank, it is expected that your balance at any time should be proportional to your salary. What this means is that if your salary is N100,000 and you have just worked for only six months and then your balance is N800,000, you may be inviting a beaming searchlight over your head. It will not be long until a query is issued demanding explanation for the indiscrepencies. Well there is nothing wrong about this practice, we are talking about peoples’ money here, and great care must be taken to safeguard it.
YOU CANNOT JUST LIVE ABOVE YOUR MEANS: Closely related to the above, maybe you are a big boy before your appointment and just few months with the bank you want to show off your expensive cars, jewelries, clothes and all the good things of life; you may be queried or reprimanded about your extravagance and if you are too big to contain, the bank may have to let you go.
YOU CANNOT MARRY YOUR CO-WORKER: This may not be news to you anyway, relationships are permitted among employees, albeit with slight oversight; but when it is tilting towards marriage, one of the pairs may have to consider resignation. There is nothing to worry about this buddy, it’s all about protecting our money, you never can tell what happens between husband and wife because the bond is so strong that the bank cannot contain.
YOUR BOSS CAN MAKE OR MAR YOU: In the bank there are three ways of doing things; the right way, the wrong way and the boss’s way. Believe me when I say doing things the right way cannot always guarantee your promotion or professional well-being, doing it the wrong way is not an option either, but I guarantee you will be much safer doing it ‘the bosses’ way”. You want to know why bosses’ way supersedes the right way? Try read the book “48 laws of power” and you will understand why your boss is always right. It was fun watching my boss peeing in his pants at the sight of his boss, at that point back then I will be feeling like “how does it feel boss? It is like a circle, it goes around. Everyone have a boss, and that is how it works. The most dangerous part of this arrangement is that your promotion is to a large extent in the hands of your boss.
THERE ARE PROFESSIONAL STAFF AND NON-PROFESSIONAL STAFF: This is one bitter pill hard to swallow. The bank refers to their employees as “professional staff” while the contract staff are called “support staff”. These support staff are mainly the HND and OND recruits through outsourcing companies. These set of employees are like “second class citizens” in the scheme of things and their opinion may not count that much. One funny question a colleague was asking then was: how can you call me an unprofessional staff and expect me to behave professional? Well if you fall into this category of bankers, you have no choice but to be professional in attending to customers even though you are not a professional staff.
YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ACCEPT TIPS FROM CUSTOMERS: This is one policy that is almost impossible to abide by. What? I should not accept a token of appreciation from my hard work? There are so many names given to tips, some call it thank you sir (TYS) others call it COT (cost of transaction) while up North our brothers call it nagwode. You can call it all you want but we are all saying the same thing! The bank says you should not accept it except during festive period. And even when the collection mode is activated, there is a limit to how much you can accept. I bet from the MD to the cleaner, everyone has once broken this rule.
TELLERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE WITH THEIR PHONES DURING BANKING HOURS: You can call it “standard practice” all you want, but the impact is great. Tellers or any staff that deals on cash transactions are not permitted to be in custody of their cell phones between the hours of 8.00AM – 4.00PM, this rule is made for the safety of customers. A case study is when a customer was rubbed after withdrawal, the customer came back and accused the teller of informing the criminals about the withdrawal simply because the teller was answering a call during the transaction. This singular incident gave birth to this rule till this day! Fair right? Yes it’s all for the safety of customers and to be more attentive to the job, cell phones can be a big distraction if not tamed.
BANKERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ACTIVELY RUN ANOTHER BUSINESS: It’s simply loyalty! The bank demands an undivided loyalty and commitment from their employees. In some of their staff handbook, there is a clause that insinuates a bank staff is not allowed to get involved in any business that will demand an active presence. If you must invest in other business, make sure it does not in any way interfere with your duties in the bank, or else you may have to consider doing it full time.
YOUR INTEGRITY WILL BE TESTED EVERY WEEK: The word “integrity” is like the love and vow couple confess to each other during marriage, to make the bond stronger the words “i love you” is often used to show continued commitment to the bond. Your integrity is not a one-off thing, it needs to be tested always for a continued relationship between you and your bank. The moment your integrity is in doubt, a divorce is imminent. How do they carry out this test? Well it can come in different forms, in order to remain in business with the bank you must declare all your “overages” and “shortages” accordingly. Again this is standard practice, you do not want a thief to be in custody of your money.
These facts are not necessarily bad practices, but it is for the sake of informing aspiring bankers what is obtainable in the system. So you still want to be a banker? You better start getting used to these rules.