Risk management starts at the top, but bankers typically start at the bottom.
From janitors and tellers to junior loan officers and credit analysts, many CEOs and other C-level executives got their start in the humblest banking positions.
But these entry-level bank jobs are more than the first wrung on a ladder to a satisfying career. They also are an introduction to risk management.
Everyone at a financial institution is responsible for risk in some way.
Consider the job of teller. A teller is constantly assessing the risk of fraudulent transactions, looking for signs of counterfeit money and checks, fraudulent wire transfers and fake IDs. They are looking for signs of customers in distress, including potential cases of fraud and elder abuse, as well as cagy would-be bank robbers. Tellers mitigate reputation as the typical first point of contact for disgruntled customers. They’re also charged with guarding against financial risk, ensuring checks are signed and cash drawers are accurate. They raise a flag when a large deposit feels suspicious.
Tellers learn to address these risks through training, carefully following policies and procedures, and being encouraged to pause and ask questions when something doesn’t feel right. A teller learns to be present and engaged, recognizing that mentally checking out can lead to serious problems. These baseline risk management skills serve them well as they work their way through the ranks.
Custodians play a role in risk management too. They are responsible for disposing of documents containing sensitive information. They ensure the physical building is locked up and safe when they leave.
Analysts are responsible for ensuring quality, accurate data is available. They help ensure credit and loan applications are reviewed using the proper policies and procedures and develop reports to ensure customer creditworthiness. These activities all help reduce credit risk.