Friday, September 16, 2011

So you want to be a Banker (Epilogue)

You may now be wondering , 'So Ginger, how did you fair in the bank? Are you trying to tell us nothing happened?’
Yes, I can. Absolutely nothing happened. I was lucky. I was blessed. I met the most wonderful people through banking. I still have customers of my bank who call me just to say they miss seeing me at the branch and they miss having someone as efficient handle their business. I met a most wonderful Boss who taught me about integrity and standing up for yourself. I'm still going to write about our stormy relationship one of these days. It probably didn't mean much to him but as an executive trainee to his Senior Manager (12 yrs experience) he made a deep impression.

Like I said, I was just blessed. I got to manage some excellent accounts and the owners liked how I handled their business and linked me up to other high networth businesses. I also understood my job. I had my Bank’s products and services on my finger-tips. I used to tell my colleagues that knowledge and competence will always win over ass-licking or bedmatics. Most serious customers recognized that and chose to stay with someone who will truly manage their bank business, rather than mess it up with sex.

I was lucky. Lucky that I had a supportive family so I wasn’t desperately attached to my job. I knew I could walk away if the pressure got too much and it won’t hurt anyone. You can't compare my freedom to the man/woman who is the bread winner of her family. 

I could also say I wasn't tempted. I mean, I think if I had met an Idris Elba look-alike who coincidentally is a partner in Glo telecoms and was willing to bankroll me in exchange for a rump in the haystack an affair even for a few short months, It maybe harder to resist.

Anyway, so there I was sinking under a N989m target for deposits (yes you saw it right!! N989m, add 11m and you have a billion), 450m target for risk assets and a target income of 135m for the bank. The truth was I inherited a target larger than my trainee status cause my branch was grossly understaffed, so a budget that should have been shared between 8 marketing staff was shared by 4. Now let’s say at the end of the month I brought in 200m in deposits, 50m risk assets and 20m income, you do the math. I was under-performing, subsequently my promotion letter was coming by snail post.

It was crazy. My new female boss didn’t help matters. She was a hyper-achiever who needed her job like an addict needs crack. Her texts are the last you see and the first when you wake up... beep.beep ‘Ginger, what's your plan for today’, ‘how do you plan to meet your target today?’. We had evangelists come to join us for morning prayer sessions to pray for the branch’s financial breakthrough. They also cleansed the building of target sucking demons..lolss. At least my boss was Christian. There was this female branch manager known to invite her fetish consults (babalawo/jujuman) to arrange some charms strategically in the building and make high networth people eager to sign their papers when told. LOLSSSS. (Believe that and you'll believe anything..)
Then there was the Monday budget review meetings in Zones that turned managers and marketing staff into nervous wrecks.
If I had a read out of my blood pressure it would go something like this:
Lowest on Friday evening. TGIF. 
Rising by Saturday afternoon. Although I am socialising at some event, all I am thinking is 'where to find the next rich customer'.
By Sunday night, I am a half wreck cos Monday is near. 
Monday morning - No matter how positive and 'relaxed' I've psyched myself to be, immediately I walk past the bank's doors, my bp is on the roof. Yep, it's gonna be a bloody day.
After the meeting it comes down a little, the worst is over, but it remains on a seesaw for the rest of the week rising and falling with your 20 top customers account balance. I use to have my customers calling me to APOLOGISE before they withdraw hefty sums from their accounts cos they knew what it meant to my KPI (come to think of it, this wasn't even fair to the customer). I prayed for my customers, their family and their businesses, sometimes more than  I did for my family. And i really did it with all my heart, cos if it’s good for them, it’s good for me.
Working in an understaffed branch made me rise up to challenges faster than my mates. I knew the bank business like the back of my hand, I could write credit proposals, budget analysis, presentations. Sometimes I even represented my manager at Monday meetings when she was too chicken sick to come. 

One day, I looked around and asked myself, 'Ginger where do you see yourself in the next 5 yrs? Branch manger? What does that mean? Bigger salary, a personal car to use, access to large mortgage or other loans and don't forget BIGGER TARGETS. That’s all. No high powered business lunch, No business consultancy. No cerebral challenge. No helping smaller businesses grow - It is telling when a business like Vitafoam Plc can’t open new branches while the banks supposed to help it grow sometimes have 6 branches on the same street.
Moreover I was losing it with family and friends. Resentful of the family members that had not moved their account to my bank. Angry that they weren't as rich as the Otedolas or related to Dangote. My love life also suffered cos my bf was in another state. I never had time to visit, I was always tense and worried, depressed even, and I felt he didn’t understand what I was going through. Moreover he refused to open an account with my bank which I felt was very disloyal of him.

My colleagues advised me not to quit, that I should weather the storm, that it gets better. Maybe. Cos truly career progress in ‘sales’ is straightforward. Remember the movie 'Love and other drugs' and how Jake hit his stride with Viagra? It can be like that in banking; maybe my Uncle becomes a Senator in the next election! 
But I was just sick of it all, so...


20 comments:

  1. Woow! Banking is hectic hey. My cousin did her nysc at oceanic bank and she'll always be pleading with my parents to open an account there. I didnt know how serious it was, haha.
    I think it's good that u quit though.. we dnt want u having high BP now do we? :p

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  2. waoh! jazz in d bank? lol. I don't blame u for quitting though.

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  3. Having worked at the now defunct Savannah bank back in 1999, I can fully understand what you went through. Thankfully I was still at Uni at the time but I knew that environment wasn't for me. What we have in Nigeria aren't really banks more like cash and carry centres.

    Do write a book, I'm sure it'll be worth reading.

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  4. lol.love this banking series. wow, that was something...i mean working in the bank. Please your health is better than whatever promotion you'd have gotten there.

    But truly, banking methods in Naija is just so wrong, ah ah. Write that book o. I'll def buy

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  5. This is actually the first time I am hearing the ordeals from someone first-hand. I am sure that since those experiences did not break you, they made you a better person today, as they will go a long way in strengthening your character

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  6. Hmm....it's definitely a roller coaster. You should think of writing that book.

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  7. Ginger is that the end? You just quit? So you will never know if it will get better. I cosign with Myne that you should write a book. Good job with the series

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  8. wow, I heard it was terrible working in the banks butI did not realise it was this worse. Marketing in general, either for banks or any where is really crazy.

    lol@ jazz in the branch, won't be surprised if it is true sha.

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  9. Sweetheart, I am so glad you have changed your career path! That banking routine was not fit for anyone sane.

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  10. make this a book,I'm with you alllllll the way.

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  11. Lol @ target sucking demons. Naijas are something else. SMH. I'm trying to imagine a bank manager doing same in the UK. They will be sectioned so fast under the mental health act, their feet will not touch the ground until they're in hospital. LOL.

    I really enjoyed the banking series. Such an eye opener. I've got two friends who are managers in Naija banks. Your story gives me an inkling of what it was like for them starting out. A book is not a bad idea:D

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  12. well done for quitting. some things really ain't worth it!

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  13. When we get to the stage we confidently say, "i quit" then, we have finally crossed the rubicon.

    Then, we can proceed to indulge ourselves in the careers we truly love and live a more fulfilling life.

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  14. Good Lord, I am so glad you got out of that. It was completely sucking your soul. Now go find something more worth your time, dear. And good luck! (or have you already found something?)

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  15. not easy - you gave it a go, you gave it your best, you were good at what you did which is good.. at least now you know enough about it to know you dont want to go back but at the same time, you have enough experience to transfer the skills you got from the job.

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  16. So banking is that 'interesting' in Naija? WOW! Who would have thought except those in it. Babalawo? Target sucking demons ke? lol
    This is beyond funny! Now, I dnt wanna work in a bank in Naija. lol

    - LDP

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  17. Thanks for sharing. I really never knew that banking was this stressful. How and why did it get that way?

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  18. i swear i never read your blog post without feeling the emotions...you're gifted with words. and yeah, you did the right thing overall...but as you grow older, you want to maintain a certain level of comfort so trust me, the "quitting" gets harder. it was so much easier when i just finished school and couldn't give a toss...but then, anything that makes me resent my nuclear family (mum dad siblings) or even think slightly less lovingly about them will just have to go (future wife take note).

    and its good you admit openly that if idris elba asked you for a rump, you'd leave your longsuffering, sacrificing, ever-loving, considerate (bla bla you get the point)boyfriend in a heartbeat. LOL. bribe me or i tell him.

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