In the Beginning...

I worked at a large, national bank for nine years, but was laid off due to the mortgage crisis and a reduction in work force. I can't say that the lay-off was welcome, but there were many things that I was relieved to be rid of. The only thing I really miss are a few co-workers, a paycheck, and many customers. Before working at the bank, I admired the girls at the bank that I frequented. They seemed to have a cushy job, cashing checks and taking deposits. They dressed nice and drove nice cars, so I thought they made a lot of money. When my youngest started kindergarten, I decided it was time for me to get a job, so I applied at the local banks and finally landed a customer service rep position. I was soon to find out that working at the bank was not all that I thought it would be.


Hiring and Training

The hiring process and information gathering was very thorough as one can expect from an employer that expects employees to handle large amounts of cash. They ran a credit check. I'm not sure if they would have hired me if I had bad credit. Apparently, if you have bad credit, you will also be a thief. Next, I found out that I would make $8 per hour. I wasn't thrilled with that, but I had to start somewhere. In the nine years that I worked there, my pay only increased by $3.01. The training period was two weeks where most of the time I sat in a little room and watched cheesy videos. I was trained with a customer service rep at a window for a whole two days before they threw me out there on my own. But I have to say that my coworkers were great and they were right there for me when I needed help. Through training I learned that working at a bank involved more than standing around taking deposits and cashing checks. Customer Service Reps have many daily tasks that they are expected to handle. What scared me most though were the banking regulations that we had to memorize and abide by. All understandable because banks need to protect themselves and their clients. Some regulations, such as the Bank Secrecy Act, required us to successfully pass an exam every year so that we were knowledgeable of how the Act affected us and what was expected of us. If we screwed up, even accidentally, and violated one of the many Acts, we could face fines and even jail time. Not the bank, WE faced the fines and jail time individually. I realize that this was all necessary, but it scared me just the same. I also felt that it was a lot to expect from employees who made very little money.

Becoming a Salesperson

One of the things that this bank should have explained to me during the hiring process is that I would essentially be a salesperson. If I had known then, or even during training, I would have walked away. I am not a salesperson by far and learned that when I tried real estate. The bank I worked for was aggressive with its push for referrals from the customer service reps. I thought that maybe it was just that bank, but through the years and conversations with tellers who worked at other banks, I learned that it was pretty standard with all banks. So, we were expected to refer customers to sit down with the manager or personal bankers to purchase more banking products. The sad thing was that we did the initial work, but were not compensated even half as much as those in the office. The bank I worked for used a score card system. We were scored on customer service and sales. If our scores were low, we could be fired. They even expected us to push sales in the drive-through. Now, I don't know about you, but when I go through the drive-through I am usually in a hurry. I don't want to hear a sales pitch. I managed to keep my scores up just enough to keep my job. However, I do think that my lower scores are the reason they chose to lay me off instead of somebody else.

Lack of Privacy

When you work at a bank, you are an open book. When you are audited, they go through everything. Audits are usually not announced. This is understandable, because customer service reps handle a large amount of the banks assets. However, I think the bank I worked for crossed a couple lines. For example, one time our vault was short by $2,000. The day after we discovered the loss, our auditors came to interview each of us and do an audit. When it was my turn to be interviewed, the auditor pulled out a copy of my bank statement and pointed out that I had just made a deposit of around $1,800. I had borrowed the money from my dad to buy my son a car. They pointed out a $50 withdrawal that I had made when I went to a casino with friends. Did I have a gambling problem and have to steal from the bank to settle a gambling debt? They grilled me for over an hour. Lucky for me, they found that it was just a paperwork error. But I was horrified that they were able to just go through my bank statements without my consent or some sort of warrant or something. I never did check into that. Maybe I will...