For awhile now I’ve wanted to write about the banking industry. What it looks like now versus ten years ago, the changing demographics of branch customers, why you never seem to see the same faces when you go into your home branch, the real reason interest rates are so low, why it takes so long to get a mortgage, and more. But every time I’ve sat down to write on those topics, the scene from Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise announces he is leaving and declares, “… the fish are coming with me,” comes to mind. I don’t want anything I write to be taken as my manifesto or anything so dramatic, I just think it would be ultra helpful if people knew why banking looks different in 2013.
Unfortunately, if I did write something, the audience would only be the 3 remaining readers of ELEVEN, and well… I doubt any of you are big complainers about the current banking system. But even though there may be better places to share this, I need to get one of those topics off my chest.
Friday morning, my bank got robbed. Two people with masks, everyone corralled into a corner, put the money in the bag, the whole nine yards. We didn’t see weapons and we were left (physically) unharmed, but those kinds of things leave emotional scars that aren’t easy to cover up. Immediately after the bank robbers ran out of the building, one of my tellers burst into tears, and in that moment I questioned if she would ever be a teller again.
And why would she want to? I’ve been in banking over a decade now, and the average teller wage has not increased once during that time. In sharp contrast, the job requirements have gone through the roof. Not only are tellers the FACE of their bank, in the last fifteen years they have also become its leading sales force. That’s right, they have actual sales goals to hit every month alongside the necessity of balancing their cash drawers, all while many banks have changed out-of-balance structures to include fraudulent items which are often completely out of a teller’s ability to control. Oh yeah, and you have the chance of a gun being stuck in your face each and every day. Where do I sign up?
Long story short, if I was making only a dollar or so over minimum wage, was forced to ask, again, the same old lady on a fixed income, if she wants a credit card or a home equity loan, had the chance of being robbed by meth and cocaine–induced assholes, was asked to do a complicated job with little to no formal training, and had very little hope of moving up in my industry, yeah, I’d be willing to switch jobs if the opportunity came my way. And that’s why there is so much turnover in banking.
Thanks for listening to my vent-session. There’s more in my head and chest, but this is enough for now. Be nice to your teller, that’s all I’m asking. They have a lot rougher job than what it looks like on the surface.