Record numbers of national bank examiners are receiving professional designations, which the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency credits for its lowest turnover rate in years.
Of the agency's more than 1,900 examiners, 225 are certified public accountants, financial planners, or have another designation awarded by an outside group. An additional 89 are enrolled in pre-certification training courses.
Five years ago just 20 examiners had outside certifications, said Leann G. Britton, the agency's senior deputy comptroller for bank supervision operations. The other banking agencies do not track certifications.
To encourage examiners to become certified, Ms. Britton said, the agency last year expanded its test preparation course reimbursement program. These courses can cost more than $2,000. Spending on certification programs increased from $387,000 in 1996 to $1.5 million in 1998, an agency spokesman said.
"We were looking for ways to ensure that our examiners have the expertise to stay abreast of what was going on in banks," she said.
Continued education leads to more job satisfaction, Ms. Britton said, a key reason that the turnover rate for examiners dropped from 12% in 1997 to 5% in 1998.
This is the lowest rate among examiners at the four banking agencies. At the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the turnover rate is 10%, a spokesman said. Turnover rates at the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of Thrift Supervision are 15% and 6%, respectively, agency spokesmen said.