In pursuit of informing the incoming college students of the various career options out there (and maybe for those contemplating a career change), we continue with our career series. On deck is a former banker who tells her story of working in the banking industry.
As told to 20 something lawyer
Hello readers, I would like to share my story of working in the Philippine banking industry. I had a short stay (about three years) in order to be a full-time mom to my kids. I was fortunate that my husband earns enough to support a single-income household. I realize how un-feminist this sounds, but at that time in the 80s, it was quite a common occurrence for men to ask their wives to quit their jobs to become full-time housewives. I was just quite happy to oblige and have no regrets.
I graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a major in Accountancy. On my last semester at college, I had an internship at a bank. Evidently, the bank was happy with my performance because three months before my graduation from college, the bank offered me a job.
The bank did not require a specific degree nor did it require any prior experience for its employees.
I started at the bottom as a bank teller and slowly progressed to a loan accounts officer. The initial job offer was a probationary position for three months. At the end of the probationary period, I was offered a permanent position.
Work Duties and Work Hours
A bank teller is a front office position. It involves a lot of client interaction. A bank teller assists client inquiries and facilitates the opening of bank accounts. Other than rotating duty with the cash tellers (who accept the cash deposits), my duties included documenting transactions by typing up “tickets” from the other bank tellers. As a loan account officer, my duties required the application of my accounting background (debiting and crediting accounts). My functions included the facilitation and approval of loan applications.
Generally, bank duties are clerical and tend to be repetitive. However, the commission of a slight mistake (such as miscounting money or inputing erroneous data) can result in huge losses to the bank, the client and the erring bank employee. Thus, while I have a typical 8-hour workday (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.), there were times when I stayed late because I had to reconcile the numbers. Nevertheless, rendering overtime work was rare.
Compensation and Benefits
At that time (1980s), I was paid a monthly salary of about PhP 450.00. We were paid every two weeks. At that time, it felt like a lot of money to me. The cost of living was not so high. The majority of my income went towards savings, food, to my parents, and towards tuition fees for my younger siblings. The rest of my salary went towards clothing and fun budget. My dwelling was within walking distance to my office, which allowed me to just walk to work.
My peers today, who stayed in the banking sector, earn a monthly salary of about PhP 15,000.00. The entry-level salary of a bank teller today is about PhP 8,000.00. A bank manager today is paid a monthly salary of about PhP 30,000.00.
Other benefits that were given by the bank were 15 days sick leaves and 15 days vacation leave. On top of other statutory benefits, other bonuses were given twice a year. We were not provided with health insurance. However, the bank had a private retirement plan, which allowed employees an optional retirement after 30 years of service with the bank.
I would definitely recommend joining the banking industry to those kids who are honest (as you will be dealing with a whole lot of money), meticulous (as you will be dealing with a lot of numbers) and hardworking. The bank is a pretty stress-free workplace as the jobs are mostly predictable. Rendering overtime work is pretty rare and the regular 8-hour workday is good for working women who have children.
I realize now that I may not have been earning much, but with creative budgeting, it was a living wage, which even allowed me to save and have fun money. In today’s real terms, the PhP 8,000.00 entry-level salary of a banker may be a drawback. However, the relatively comfortable workplace and easy work hours can more than make up for the slightly lower than average salary.
A possible way around the low compensation may be to join government banks, which I understand now offer very competitive salaries and better job security (because the Philippine government will never default or become bankrupt).