Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal. –Henry Ford
Dear Readers, for the last four weeks I have attempted to examine the pros and cons of the latest reality on the financial market trends – mergers and acquisitions, or M & A.
Whether we like it or not, two banks were been closed down in 2018, while another five have been consolidated since August 2018, by the Bank of Ghana. After the dust has settled down, many banks are also feverishly preparing for mergers or arranging for strategic investors to enable them meet the capitalization limit of GHC400m by 31st December 2018 deadline. For this final in the series, I will concentrate on sharing some practical titbits with bank staff who may find themselves in this situation. We hope they are settling down to the realities on the ground.
Is your bank involved in a merger, acquisition, consolidation process? First ask yourself: Do I still have a job? Good for you. There are many people out there still looking for a job to move on to. Thank God and lets see how you can make it. Conduct a SWOT analysis on yourself. What strengths do you have? Are you charismatic, pleasant, a peoples’ person, empathetic, a good listener with good communication skills? Are you meticulous with figures, sharp brained and analytical? Do you have good selling skills? Are you a team player and can work under pressure? What about the down side of your personality that you have to work on? Are you easily irritated, not sympathetic, always wanting to work alone? Are you not able to work under pressure and understand others’ opinions? Are you a dictator at work?
Where are you currently on the job? Where do you want to be in the next five years? How will you get there? Of course, not by whining and complaining. Consider your strengths. When there is consolidation, mergers and acquisitions, there is a need for right-sizing of staff strengths. If there is a consolidation of five banks, the shareholders will obviously look at the bottom line, as business demands. If there are five heads of the Cheque Clearing Units, there is a need for only one. Are you ready to be the deputy? If not, the answer is obvious. Banking is the most dynamic sector of the economy. Cheques are gradually giving way to ATMs, mobile money, electronic banking and so on. Obviously, the number of transactions are also reducing. Are you offering value for money or are you folding your arms, watching, waiting, sad and angry at the situation. There is a need to move on.
With the right push, you can forge ahead. Mergers and acquisitions are common in the financial sector as well as many businesses. Let us consider the positive side and make the best of both worlds. Plan your future, both career-wise as well as privately. If you want to move on, have you considered the pros and cons?
Ask your colleagues and supervisor: How can I help? Yes. Managers respect subordinates who are ready to assist in various ways to make the branch or department stand out and be a winner. Sometimes new departments or units are created, and you can offer to assist there and add value. You never know. Perhaps you are a Teller or Customer Service Officer. Do you have some marketing skills to help at the branch. Do you have good product knowledge? After all, everybody is expected to cross-sell at any point of customer interaction. Tellers are now turning into Sellers, ending up as “Personal bankers”. You can offer to help or assist the Sales Team occasionally on their sales trips. Take advantage of that golden opportunity and stand out as versatile.
USING UNIQUE SKILLS
Are you a staff with any unique competency or strength or characteristics? As a former branch manager, I took advantage of staff who had unique strengths and utilized their services to add value to our bottom line. Lets examine the following unique examples of how various staff can help in deposit mobilization:
- Staff in a religious group that can be approached for a presentation
- Staff who understand a particular language (both local and foreign) that nobody can speak in the branch
- Staff who are members of unique Old School Associations with high potential for poaching.
- Staff who are members of social groupings
- Staff who have unique selling skills
It is a well- known fact that when you encounter anybody who speaks your native tongue, there is a natural affinity with that person. A cashier helped me to save a situation of a very angry customer who encountered a nasty unprofessional slip by a staff. He agreed not to close the account after much persuasion from the other Teller who spoke in his native tongue.
This is a very critical factor in blending with new situations. As a dynamic institution, banking always demand new ways of doing things, so long as they are done legally, within the context of the banking laws. There is no job for life anymore, contrary to the older generations who could stay in one institution until retirement. With regular updates of skills and experiences being gathered, many staff can be more valuable to the institution as they go up the ladder, acquiring new skills. The advent of universal banking has brought with it over twenty activities that banks are now licensed to do. This is being matched with various opportunities out there for various programs to make staff more versatile. Lets look at the Professional banking, Professional Accounting, Professional Marketing, Insurance, Risk, Certified Fraud, Compliance courses, IT, Stock Exchange, Investment banking….the list goes on. These come in the form of sandwich programs, after work, week-ends, and on-line. Arrange to upgrade yourself and enjoy its long-term benefits.
SHARING IS CARING
Based on your unique experience, you can offer to assist at your bank’s internal training programs as an internal facilitator. You know your bank well and can also relate to the training case studies. Be a resource person and be a mentor to others to look up to you. More staff will take you seriously because you have been there before.
if you want to change careers, please don not jump into unchartered waters. You can always try it as a hobby, and plan for it. Do not just take a package and sink all your funds into fixed assets when you have not even tried it out. Many offices and shops which started like that remain closed as at today. Don’t follow the crowd.
How about consultancy? This is a challenging sector but worthwhile in the long run when the participants appreciate your output. Before then, the experience has to be acquired through partnership with others.
Are you a lover of children? You can attend the courses on early childhood development and plan to join a school or plan your project. Remember there is life outside banking.
Do you have unique culinary skills? You never know. Better it and start your own joint. Meanwhile do not forget that good customer service, networking and customer satisfaction is the key.
Last but not the least, remember that change is the constant factor in life and your situation can be best managed by you. After all, it is said that YOUR ATTITUDE DETERMINES YOUR ALTITUDE.
Enjoy your banking career and make the best out of it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.