Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So you want to be a banker (Part 2)

Marketing started in earnest.
High heels-check, trouser suits-check, hair-check, jewelry-check, eager smile-check. I was a banker...... or so i thought!
My second day at work I was given a sheet of paper and told to write down the names of all the wealthy family friends and relatives I knew and give an estimate of their net worth. Then state the deadline by which I would have converted them to customers of the bank????
Coming from an average middle income, non-politically affiliated family you can imagine my struggle to give an impressive list. 
So I lied..
Chief B.Y. Dogonyaro (my latest Godparents)  - N30m
Otunba Abiola MBO – N25m
Sir Ginger (my new elevated millionaire Dad) N18m
Rev Mrs. Do Good of Do Good Ministries – N16m (I was advised to join the church quick quick and volunteer to be an usher)
Mr. Smith of XYZ Oil servicing Company (now that got my manager very excited ‘Oil $$$’)- 100m
Yahoo Ltd owned by Mr. Yahoo – net worth N50m

It was crazy. God help you if one of the relatives you noted their name is relatively popular e.g. A politician, you will become the most revered marketer. Revered cause you are expected to bring Uncle's loot to the bank. Maligned if you are unsuccessful. A 'threat sackletter' from the bank is sometimes helpful in making Uncle more sympathetic to your cause (did someone say blackmail?).
Charity begins at home right? I started calling uncles, family friends who I never was close to in earnest, ask begging them to open an account with my bank, friends and neighbors. It was something I had never been easy with, calling favors and owing ‘people favors’ per se, but it had to be done. I tried to be pragmatic and think of it like a game. A popularity contest. 

That notion worked for a while, till I found out my KPI (Key Performance Index) which no one had mentioned at the interview, and desperation crept in.
Deposits are the sum total of monies the account holders you manage keep with the Bank
Risk assets are the sum total of monies taken in loans by the account holders you manage
Income is the interest earned on the deposits and on the loans given out

Bank marketing is a lot like sales...duh, it was sales. But unlike sales of goods where there is an instant gain for the customer when he buys the product (drugs, cleaning agent, cosmetics) in banking you are telling people to .. errr, come and save their money with your bank / take loans from your bank trusting that your bank doesn’t renege on the contract e.g raise interest rates arbitrarily. 
Knowing the Nigerian banking climate, what with recent memories of near collapse of some banks due to misappropriation by directors etc, you can’t blame Nigerians for being distrustful. Most people have more faith in their closets and home safes.

There were also other issues.

1.       1. Products and Services
They say customers listen to Radio WITFM (what’s in this for me). Well, what do most customers want?
Incentives - Personal banking could have come with better incentives like what I see here…where you get value added incentives like computer/phone insurance, travel insurance. Discounts in favourite shops. Small things that make a customer think they are getting ‘value’ for banking with you. 
Credit: For their personal use. To start up businesses. But how many get that? Very few. Banks are afraid to give cause customers aren’t ready to pay back and a lack of social security number and national ID makes it impossible to trace defaulters. So we ask for collaterals like share certificates, land, houses. Only few can produce acceptable legal documents which can hold in court.  Businesses are unregistered. Bank accounts run like personal accounts. How do you lend money to a customer whose account turnover isn’t more than N100,000 monthly, but he wants to borrow N1m?
Salary earners had it easier, we have particular groups we lend money to – telecom staff, fellow bank staff and people in civil service. Also staff of long established blue chip companies. The idea being their incomes are steady. They don’t change jobs. Even if they do, they are only moving to bigger and better jobs. If you don’t belong to any of these groups, Credit? Fogerrit….
Some banks took risks and truly helped a lot of businesses. Some, like mine played by the book.
All in all, sales in the bank was up to ‘personal relationships’ of the marketer.

2.      2. Fellow bank staff
Where do I start? Is it the manager that can’t write a coherent letter? Or the zonal manager that accompanies you on a marketing call only to end up embarrassing you cause he can’t differentiate between a long term loan and a short term overdraft?
Or the team leader who takes the pool car out (grounding every other marketer) to MTN office ostensibly to sell our credit products to her ‘connections there’ when she is actually out on a long lunch date?
Or the inefficiency in bank operations that causes cheque book printing to take months, ATM card request 2 months, Cheque confirmation hours?
Or Is it the lunatic customer service person who inadvertently  pisses off customers that you’ve spent months wooing? 
The latter one just gets my goat. You’ve been following up this prospect Mr WYU: attended all his family wedding and christening events, bought the aso-ebi, called him every other day, texted him daily, etc etc. He finally opens an account with your bank (just to get you off his back). And you bide your time thinking soon soon. 
All the while he has only met you, or some other member of your marketing team and maybe your boss (when I say personal banking I mean it literally. We bring the bank to him, account opening forms etc for those who can’t be bothered -which is most, na you dey beg na- I fill all the forms, and just point to where he signs).

As good team members, we update other colleagues of the progress of Mr. WYU’s wooing during branch meetings.
Imagine then one fine morning, Mr. WYU wakes up on the good side of his bed and decides to come to the bank, to pick his cheque book. And surprise you. And he meets the idiotic Customer Service Officer who thinks her job function means she is ruler of all she surveys.
Mr. WYU: Hello, I came to pick the cheque book for WYU LTD. My name is Mr. WYU.
CSO: (slowly looking up from her blackberry with irritated eyes and pouting lips) What?
Mr. WYU: (repeats himself)
CSO: "Please I can’t attend to you now. Can’t you see I am busy? Come back in 2 hrs time"
And Mr WYU leaves your bank with the 20m cheque he wanted to pay in thinking ‘what kind of bank is this?’!

Sigh. Only God’s grace and the gap toothed smile of her baby boy on her desktop screen, stopped me from helping some people lose their jobs. Only that.



  1. took me way back. Now I'm tempted to ask the name of your bank...

  2. In Nigeria, all things are possible. The last part reminds of me of my last visit to Nigeria when a friend of mine couldn't get a print out of his statement because "The bank had run out of photocopy papers"... lol

    - LDP

  3. Funny. I read Part One too. "Marketing" atop poor services, not an easy task. I wrote about useless banking one time. Getting there, I guess.

  4. Humph
    I dont know whether to laugh and cry
    My school-friend who worked in a bank told me that it was expected that they sleep with big boys whp had lots to deposit.
    In fact, one 'sharp' girl was promoted to 'Senior Wealth Manager' within a year because she used her key 'assets' to bring in substantial cheques
    As for the bank staff....I really dont understand why customer service and written/spoken English continues to be a struggle.
    I no fit shout

  5. Na wa o. Thank goodness i've never had to work in a bank. *shudders* terrible stuff. What makes them think that your wealthy family members don't already have bank accounts they are operating?

    Naija banking system, we hail thee.....

  6. wa oooo. Modern day exploitation to the fullest.

  7. "My second day at work I was given a sheet of paper and told to write down the names of all the wealthy family friends and relatives I knew and give an estimate of their net worth. Then state the deadline by which I would have converted them to customers of the bank????"

    Call me naive, but they can actually do this? And nobody reports them? What happened to regulation of banking ethics? Nobody is putting pressure on CBN to stop this? The people working in the banking industry should better start forming alliances to stop this nonsense. We can't just keep talking about the problems.

    Yes, even in Nigeria, there are regulatory bodies and some of them can be lobbied to address some of these practices. I know that in law, if you threaten errant lawyers or law offices with reporting them to the Body of Benchers Disciplinary Committee, they usually behave o. In Law School, the fear of your name being struck off the roll in ingrained in your mind. I think those in banking and who love their profession should start doing something.

  8. NIL has written my comment. Did you ever feel pressured to sleep with anyone because of your job? You don't have to answer if you don't want to :D

  9. OMG! My sister is in banking. She tried to explain the harsh realities of the system and I told her she was just whining. OMG! This is brutal! Why won't they let you handle your own customer service? Why don't you handle the big deposits to ensure your customers are happy and taken care of? Why foist them off to some "customer service" people who don't know your customers from Adam?

  10. The customer service in Nigeria is soo bad and its really annoying.
    Didn't some men seduce you? Were you asked to wear short skirts? Thats what I heard o, I have never worked in a bank, lol.

  11. Buhahahaha @ CSO slowly looking up from blackberry with irritated eyes and pouting lips

    Odiro easy

  12. na wa ohhh,naija banking system is simply outrageous,I can't even blame the BB chic,you no sabi if she don chop since morning sef.

  13. Kai Ginger ‎​you summed it up wella... I walk into banks and pity some staff...have some bank friends and a lot of them complain bitterly wishing they could exit next day. Some not ready to take a bow cos of cash.....
    this account you've given is not pleasant.

  14. Hmmm...This reminded me way back in 1999 when I worked briefly at the now defunct Savannah bank in Lagos. I knew some NYSC girls then who were deployed to marketing but let's face it they were just a front to entice 'big men' to make large deposits.

    They were ferried out everyday in company cars in hunt for customers but what I witnessed was just glorified prostitution. Sorry for being so blunt about it but I'm afraid that is what banking has been reduced to in Nigeria.

  15. I just read your part 1 a few days ago and i was actually waiting for this part seriously. You took me back and just like Myne i am tempted to ask the name of your bank. In my bank,all branch staff operations and marketers, even contract workers had to make a list of potential customers and their networth.It didn't end there o. At the weekly meeting you have to give a report of how much you brought the previous week. If you dont perform, the manager gives you a warning note. Your salary is also tied to your performance, you'll see some people working and not getting paid cos they are not meeting their target. What about the system down time periods?

  16. wow..banking is some serious ish. My cousin was doing her youth service at a bank and i know she wld always call my parents pleading with them to open an account at her branch lol

  17. Myne- lips sealed lol. I might be going back tothem with tail between my legs...

    LDP- running out of photocopying paper use to happen once in a while. running out of account opening forms too :)

    Hi T. I don't know if we are getting there. lets wait and see.

    NIL- customer service and spoken English? cause the banks are yet to understand that customer service can make or break you. In most banks CSOs are contract staff. less paid than permanent staff. and you expect them to be nice? sad but true

    MimiB- Well, they expect your family members support you. So...

    9ja foodie - you got it right. unemployment/poverty/greedy corporate heads = exploitation.

    Os - I feel you. My colleague wanted to write about banking ethics in Nigeria for her dissertation, but being a reluctant patriot i am i asked her not to open our bum bum to UK public. But then again..maybe it will be a service to banking staff. The thing is many of us didnt know what was what. You get the job, and you face all the madness and you just do your bit and hope for a better job. the usual threat was that 'there are many outside who want your job' which wasn't a lie. When there are job interviews the uninvited applicants hoping to sneak into the venue outweigh the invited by 300%. you are not really special.

    Those who love their profession? I think that breed is extinct. Now, its just numbers.

  18. Prism - you answer is coming ;)

    Lucid - Your sister isn't whining. I had few friends who were willing to understand. they saw the flash, the jewelry and thought it was the life. if only.

    The sales person handling customer service is almost like doing double duty!! My branch is only one out of 1200 and the customer should be able to hop into any branch and expect good service. The salesperson cant do it all.

    Prism and Ilola - gist coming up soon.
    LG- Odiro ofele nwanne m.

    Gretel - abeg my dear, that one no be excuse. But she expects to be paid at the end of the month?

    Enybees -it isnt easy my Sister. so many things to consider before you can make that move.

    Naija4life - Glorified prostitution? well, not everyone did that and if the girls were prostitutes, then the bank managers etc were pimps :)

    Okeoghene- Sister mine! you got it. Memories...

    Kitkat - Hope your parents help her out. its bloody darling!

  19. LOOOoolll!!! Please don't scare me! I have a bank test on Monday o and I'm tempted to not do my best so they don't take me, so I don't have to explain to everyone why I'm turning down a job when I'm looking for one. Gosh! Bank jobs scare me!

  20. customer service is a problem in Naija so I can understand the frustration with the CS officer. I've always heard banks do this but coming from a former banker, its more believable now. Na wa sha

  21. oh dear, you had me ROTFL.... To think that my last post was about customer servicee too. *sigh* . Bank ethics died a long time ago little wonder most of the new generation banks who are in deed the major culprits are now neck deep in debts oh dear, you had me ROTFL.... To think that my last post was about customer servicee too. *sigh* . Bank ethics died a long time ago little wonder most of the new generation banks who are in deed the major culprits are now neck deep in debts

  22. I can relate to third cousin works in the bank....her market target were the traders who were importers....she complains everyday! The men wants to sleep with her! Her bbf told her to play ball, afterall, fornication is fornication! Whether with one man or one million, it's the same sin! ..i don't know if she complied...but i am suspecting so,becox of the way she talks about her friend gloriously who is 10years older than her....

    Twice she was threatned with the sack letter... we had to rally around to help her the first time..the 2nd time...we could not help...but she was able to raise the, the govt had bought over the bank & she is so excited....being a junior staff, she is not affected...happy for her.

    I hear condoms are given to the female marketers when they go out to source for it true?

  23. This is hilarious, but truly this is what bank marketers face. In Nigeria, they are popularly called 'executive prostitutes'

  24. I was the marketing director for a large engineering/architectural firm. The president disliked dealing with people of different cultures, and / or gay people. A lot of people in the design world are gay and from different cultures. I would bring them in on a project and he would treat them so rudely they would never use this firm again. This was hell!

  25. Hey Ginger, I didn't even know you had a blog. Awesome! I'll definitely be stopping back here to check on you from time to time. I took an extended vacation but I'm back writing. Talk to you soon!

  26. oh shoot - that customer service lady - how on earth could she treat a customer, a 20m customer for that matter, like that?

    @ @ilola - I know what u mean - once, I wore a long skirt suit to work and my manager asked me if I was SU (Scripture Union born-again Christian).

  27. I knew i was scared of marketing for banks for a reason. This is really great insider information. And so well written

    I've missed your blog babe :)

    Muse Origins Features
    Muse Origins

  28. The bit you said write every wealthy person you know, Reminds me of an insurance company I almost joined! I ran as fast as my ikebe let me.

    I knew this bank marketining minini was very hard but your blog and your performance (actually getting wyu etc) makes it easier than i thought)

    off to part 3



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