A Question for the 21st Century Banker: … am I in the right profession? (3)

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep trying” – Albert Einstein

Dear readers, for the past two weeks we have looked at how the banking landscape has changed so drastically in recent years, the effects of the banking crises on bank employees, their work-life balance, the revolution in technology that has taken bank staff close redundancy, the inability of some employees to move with the times, and so on. We also looked at extracts from a research publication by Charles Gyan and Michael Baffoe  – “Stress and Coping Strategies among Bankers in Tema Metropolis”, dated November 2014.

My Observations

Merely asking yourself whether you are in the right profession does not mean you have to leave the job. It may be that there are other areas in your bank that you have not explored the possibility of seeking a move to. Here are a few observations you may possibly find true about yourself:

  • You may be overwhelmed by the constant changes in the banking sector which require your bank to meet several laws and directives from the central bank. Please note that change is the only constant factor in our lives. Without changes, the banking environment will become static. You may not be ready to move with the tide.
  • You may not have conducted a SWOT analysis on yourself to know your strengths and weaknesses. While working on your weaknesses, your strengths may be underutilised.
  • Perhaps your bank has been restructured, merged, acquired, consolidated or what have you. Does it matter at all, so long as your income is assured? Perhaps processes and policies have been changed and you do not want to flow with them. This is the best time to team-play, and enable your new supervisors to comfortably work with you.
  • You were expecting the bank to train you for your next progression. Far from it. These days many banks prefer already-made experts to hit the ground running with the new trends. You might not have attempted to upgrade yourself in other related fields to facilitate a transfer to a new department where your skills can be better applied.
  • You may not be a team player. Perhaps you are not taking advantage of opportunities to associate with the right people to enhance your image. You may not be at ease with the new processes and still hang on to the past. That is dangerous.
  • Perhaps your Godfather has left the bank and you now feel vulnerable and fear a ‘tit for tat’ event rearing its ugly head against you. You might have over-relied on that Godfather to ‘cover’ you even when you were misbehaving. Remember that no condition is permanent. Start afresh and work well with everyone.
  • Perhaps your social and networking relationship at work is be poor. You cannot bring yourself to love the job.

If you agree with me on any of the above observations, then please sit up and check yourself with a self-audit. It is about time you made yourself more useful in the bank. Remember, there are thousands of people out there wanting to be in your shoes.

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The Code of Ethics

A code of ethics reflects standards and establishes a realistic mode of behaviour that applies to everyone in the bank, from the board of directors to the lowest level of workers. The reputation of a bank and its actions reflect the ethical conduct and professionalism that affects its potential for profit and growth. All levels of bank employees need to be aware of company policies regarding ethics: in order to make the right decisions in challenging business situations, to know how and when to seek help when faced with ethical dilemmas, and to know where to report possible unethical conduct. In today’s banking industry, the code of ethics and professionalism serve as the foundation upon which banks must make decisions based on honesty, integrity, confidence and trust. A formalised code of ethics provides banks with an understanding and knowledge of what is expected from them in terms of responsibilities and behaviour. Considering the requirements of banks for the protection of rights and interests of innumerable depositors, establishment of stability and confidence in financial markets and economic development, it is very paramount for banks to also ethically pursue their operations in compliance with the principles of integrity, impartiality, reliability, transparency, social responsibility and controlling of money laundering.

Some Questions

  • Does your bank have a code of ethics?
  • Have you read the CIB Code of Ethics for bankers?
  • To what extent has the code of ethics and professionalism helped to sanitise the banking industry and ensured stability of the banking system?
  • Has it achieved and established the requisite level of awareness and appreciation of ethics and professionalism in the banking industry?
  • Have we realised that the pertinent unethical conduct of banks and their practices may be responsible for the present distress in the banking industry?

At the Crossroads

You may have realised your strengths and shortfalls. This article has set you thinking. It is not to make you leave. Far from it. It is expected that you make a decision now that you are at the crossroads. To stay or leave. Leaving may be out of the question for now, because you may:

  • Be unprepared to start any venture of your own
  • Have taken several loans from the bank (Housing, car, welfare, etc.)
  • Have not identified anything you want to do apart from banking
  • The future is unknown
  • You are afraid of being a laughing-stock

TIPS FOR MOVING ON                                                                                                      You might find that as the year goes by, you end up doing the same things you did the year before and the year before that. So, if you truly want to change for the better in 2019, it’s time to start doing things differently! Here are some tips to consider if you want to stay at the bank:

  1. Seek positive people and blot out negativity in your life

Negativity is contagious. Avoid people who complain constantly or tend to see the negative side of everything. Unfortunately, these people often pass their feelings on to those around them. If you allow yourself to be affected by this negativity, you’ll struggle feeling motivated to achieve your goals. Choose to associate with positive, enthusiastic and hard-working people.

  1. Plan toward change
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Aiming to further your education? The first step could be something as small as sending an email to enquire about a course. Big things usually start with the smallest actions. But remember, you need to be able to build on those small steps and stay driven toward achieving your end goal. You can even start an e-learning course while still working.

  1. Don’t waste time

Time is your most precious asset. Spending it productively. Use your social media to learn new things, new ventures, new trends in banking, then positive change will be possible. Use the Internet wisely. Sometimes we all need to kick back and relax, but this needs to be balanced with activities that will take us closer to the change we want to achieve. It’s time to make the most of your time!

  1. Make positive change part of your daily routine

 When you focus on what you want to achieve every day, your journey to change will become a natural part of your routine. Note them down in your diary and reflect on how you can practicalise it on the job. Ask your manager how you can help to make that change possible. If you keep your goals on top of your mind, focusing on positive change will soon become your daily habit.

  1. Stay Focused and Strong

Do not yield to unethical pressure. Think of your own future. There’s no way around it – positive change requires self-motivation, determination and courage. Make sure that you have a plan for achieving your goals, and then focus on executing it. Be relentless in chasing down your dreams. And when you experience a setback, don’t let it bring you down. Keep moving forward!

  1. Think about the rewards, not the challenges

Every time that you feel like a challenge is too difficult or overwhelming, remind yourself of your end goal. Think about the satisfaction you’ll feel when you’ve overcome it. Realise that successfully taking the difficult first steps will make the path toward positive change that much easier.

Start doing things differently and get ready to make 2019 your best year yet!

For those of you who want to quit, stay tuned to my next article on ‘Taking A Graceful Bow’.


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 for training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.


Website www.alkanbiz.com

Email: alberta@alkanbiz.com  or albique@yahoo.com

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