Career as Specialist Officer in Public Sector Banks
Vijay Prakash Srivastava
Banks make significant contribution to a nation’ economic growth. Recent move of demonetization of existing currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 has made all of us realize how important banks are for all segments of people. Also for job seekers in our country banking sector offers tremendous hope as these days, maximum number of job opportunities are being offered by banks.
Banks are expanding their network across the length and breadth of the country. Their focus is also on maximizing use of technology for reducing operational costs and increasing their efficiency and speed. For most of us banking business consists of accepting deposits and providing loans. To manage these simpler functions banks have clerical staff and officers from the general banking discipline. Large number of vacancies are advertised for these positions and many of our young people think that these are the only available opportunities in banks. Fresh general banking Officers in Public Sector Banks are recruited as Probationary Officers or Management Trainees and this is a dream job for a large young population of our country.
In addition to the above, banks also look for people with adequate qualifications who are willing to work in specialized areas. Both public and private sector banks have a number of specialized functions. Many of the private sector banks fill these specialist vacancies through campus recruitment, job sites etc. while public sector banks follow the open recruitment policy. Vacancies are advertised in newspapers and on websites. Eligible candidates may apply and appear in the selection process. Major areas of specialist career opportunities in public sector banks include – marketing, security, agriculture, engineering technology, law, risk management, Hindi (Official language), finance, human resource management, economics, and information technology etc. Recently Bank of Baroda and IBPS have announced vacancies for specialist officers in certain disciplines. Details are available on their websites.
For probationary general banking officers all graduates are considered eligible. Specialist positions require qualifications in relevant area of specialization. Some of the specialist positions at entry level and there job profile is as follows:
Marketing officer: A management degree is one of the most sought after qualifications these days. If you have a Postgraduate degree (MBA/MMS) or Postgraduate diploma in Management with specialization in marketing you are eligible to apply for this position. Few institutes also offer postgraduate degree /diploma in marketing management.
Marketing officers in banks have to formulate strategies for marketing of banking products and execute them. They are also involved in market research and in conducting sales and publicity campaigns. By using their creativity, they may bring innovations in existing products and design new products. They get opportunity to work at corporate and field levels.
Law officer: A bachelor’s degree in law (LLB) with experience of legal practice of certain specified years in a court of law will make you eligible for this position. Those with a master’s degree in law may be given preference. Law degree holders without experience can not apply.
Law officers represent their bank in court cases. They are required to draft plaints, file court cases and report the progress and proceedings in such cases to the authorities. They also offer legal opinion in banking matters whenever and wherever it is required. Law officers significantly contribute in recovery of bank dues through legal recourse.
Finance/Credit officer: For this position postgraduates with specialization in finance or having postgraduate qualification in financial management may apply. In some cases chartered accountant (CA), cost and work accountant (ICWA), chartered financial analyst (CFA) also work as desired qualifications.
Finance / credit officers examine requests for loans, ascertain the repaying capacity of loan applicant, carries inspection of the securities proposed and gets the documents executed. These are important steps in loan processing and management of credit portfolio. Monitoring of loan accounts is also done by them to initiate corrective steps wherever necessary. Finance / credit officers are also involved in recovery of loans.
Agricultural officers: In some banks Agricultural officers are known as rural banking/ rural development officers or agricultural field officers. There are many courses which make you qualify for this position .These include four year graduate degree in Agriculture/ Horticulture/Animal Husbandry/ Veterinary Science/ Dairy Science/ Fishery Science/ Pisciculture/ Agricultural Marketing & Cooperation/ Co-operation & Banking/ Agro-Forestry/Forestry/ Agricultural Biotec-hnology/ Food Science/ Agriculture Business Management/ Food Technology/ Dairy Technology/ Agric-ultural Engineering etc. Postgraduates and Ph.D holders also look forward to this career.
Public sector banks have many schemes for financing the agriculture sector including high tech agriculture. They have to achieve the target prescribed by the government in financing the agriculture which is a priority area in banking.
Agricultural officers assess the potential and requirement of farm credit in the area where they are working, examine loan proposals, organize loan campaigns for farmers and rural people. These days their most important contribution is towards promotion of financial inclusion schemes on which the government is putting high emphasis.
HR Officers: HR is an available option for specialization at Postgraduate study in management. With this specialization or a Postgraduate qualification in Human Resources Management, you may apply for this position. Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) may also make you eligible.
Banking is a service industry where human interface is considered critical. Banking industry has a huge workforce. Like all other big organizations banks manage this workforce through their Human Resources (HR) Department. Banks have HR Departments at their corporate office and other controlling offices. HR officers look after manpower planning, performance appraisal, placements, compensation and benefits, training and development and industrial relations matters. Maintaining proper HR data is also their responsibility.
Hindi Officers: All public sector organizations including banks have requirements of Hindi Officers. Another nomenclature for Hindi Officer is Official Language Officer. Postgraduates in Hindi or English are considered eligible provided they have studied English/ Hindi at graduation level. Postgraduates in Sanskrit should have studied both Hindi and English in their graduation. A diploma in translation and/ or a Ph.D qualification will strengthen your candidature.
The job involves translating circulars , documents, forms etc. from English to Hindi and vice versa, conducting Hindi classes and workshops, organizing competitions for promoting use of Hindi which is the official language of the Union of India. Hindi officers are fully involved in implementing the official language policy of Central government.
Information Technology officers: A four year degree or Post Graduate Degree in Computer Engineering/ Computer Applications/ Information Technology/ Electronics/ Electronics & Telecommunications/ Electronics & Communication/ Electronics & Instrumentation may lead you to become an Information Technology officer in a bank.Graduates having passed DOEACC ‘B’ level may also apply. Additional qualification like Degree/Diploma/ Certificate in Networking, Programming, Languages, Database, IT are desirable.
Dependence of banking on technology is increasing day by day. IT officers facilitate this process.Their job is to ensure proper functioning of hardware and software and help employees in use of technology. Within the area of Information Technology, few super specializations are also available which include database administration, networking, information security, software development and testing etc. Sometimes there are specific vacancies for job functions.
Technical officers: Graduate engineers having completed 4 years course (B.E/B.Tech) in mechanical/ electrical/civil engineering may choose to become technical officer in a bank. Postgraduates (M.E/M.Tech) may also apply.There may be few vacancies for architects (B.Arch) also.
Banks provide finance to industries. Technical expertise is needed to assess proposals received for industrial financing. For such expertise banks mostly rely on their technical officers. These officers examine technical feasibility and other aspects of projects. Inputs given by them help authorities in taking decisions on such loan proposals.
Economists: Banks appoint economists to deal with numbers and statistic at macro level. For the position of economist a candidate needs to have a Master’s degree in economics having studied the subject at graduation level. Postgraduates in econometrics/ statistics may also check their eligibility. A M Phil/Ph.D Degree in economics or related subject is often considered desirable.
Economists analyze their bank’s performance and compare this with performance of other banks. This analysis helps in formulating corporate strategy. The job of economists is also to study the emerging trends in national and global economy and keep the top management apprised of it.
Security officers: Security is a vital aspect of banks’ working and to strengthen this banks appoint security officers. Here graduates with specified experience as officer in army or police or para military forces are considered eligible. To become a security officer the applicant should have worked as an officer not below the rank of Captain of Indian Army or equivalent rank in Indian Navy / Air Force with a minimum of 5 years of commissioned service or as an Officer not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (SP)/ Deputy SP/Assistant Commandant /Deputy SP/ Assistant Commandant / Deputy Commandant of Indian Police / Para Military Forces with a minimum of 5 years’ service as an officer in such force.
Most of bank branches have security guards to take care of local security. Security officers observe the security arrangements at various establishments of the bank and suggest corrective measures wherever needed. Purchase, installation of security gadgets like close circuit camera, fire alarm etc. also come under their jurisdiction. In their enlarged role, now they also have to look after information security.
Risk Management officers: Considering the importance of risk management many big banks have started recruiting specialist Risk Management Officers. Master’s degree holders in statistics/ financial management/ statistics/ financial engineering/ risk management have the opportunity to take up this role.
The job of risk management officers is to analyze various risks bank may face and formulate strategies to minimize the effects of such risks. Examples of risks are market risk, financial risk, interest risk, operational risk etc.
Selection process for specialist officers: For positions in Scale I written test is conducted in which candidates are tested for Reasoning, English Language, Quantitative Aptitude or General Awareness with special reference to banking (any of these two as per area of specialization) and professional knowledge in the area of specialization. For example those applying for marketing officers’ post will be required to answer questions related to marketing. The test is in the form of objective questions and is now conducted online. Except for English, the question paper is both in Hindi and English. To qualify you have to obtain minimum prescribed marks in each segment. Those who stand high in merit are called for interview. For specialists positions in higher scales selection is based on interview/group discussion/psychometric testing. A written test may be conducted if there are large numbers of applicants. Vacancies are advertised by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) and by the banks.
Lateral entry: While general banking probationary officers are usually recruited by banks in junior management cadre (scale I), specialist officers have better opportunities to join in higher scale provided they have some working experience in their specialized area. For specialists it’s easier to join in middle management scale II or III or even in scale IV.
Opportunities: Most banks have defined policies for promotion of specialist officers. Candidates have the option to continue to work in the specialized area or switch over to general banking . Banks allow specialist officers to convert into generalist officers after putting in certain number of years of service .The number of years differ from bank to bank. After working for few years as specialist and observing general banking functions, you may take a call on this.