Whenever I think of the branch manager's role in the bank, I think of my evening student who worked for Bankers Trust in New York during the day.

"What do you do at Bankers?" I asked him, after he told me he had been there for 90 days.

"I don't know," he replied.

"Well, what have you done for the last 90 days?"

"I've been to Detroit 67 times."

Why does the student who made 67 trips to Detroit to deliver checks and get good funds one day sooner than the bank would have received them through the Federal Reserve clearing system remind me of branch managers?

Because so many have no idea what they are supposed to do for the bank. They often wear too many hats to handle any one job properly.

There was a time when branch managers, if asked what they did for the bank, would honestly have answered "everything."

They ran the branch, approved the loans, handled personnel problems, and took care of every type of contact between the bank and its customers.

But what about today? What is the most effective way a bank can use its branch managers?

This question becomes even more important when the typical bank is trying to determine whether it needs all its branches or whether some can be eliminated in this era of electronic banking.

Instead of giving the answers of a college professor who has never met a payroll and never intends to, the editors of the Community Banking page have agreed that this topic would make a good one for our continuing contest to earn the role of "President for a Day" of Schmidlap National Bank.

In other words, what do you think are the best ways to utilize a branch manager?

Should the branch manager be basically an administrator who handles local issues, such as personnel problems, hiring and firing, handling local tax and regulatory problems with City Hall?

Should the branch manager still concentrate on generating and approving loans?

Should he or she worry about public relations, bank image in the community, and generating new credit and deposit business?

Is the manager's major function to be the watchdog for headquarters- making sure the books are in order?

All of us know that in the communities where the branches are located, the branch manager IS the bank. And what he or she does can make or break the bank's image and profit potential in that community.

We want to know how your branch manager will operate at Schmidlap National Bank. The winner gets a certificate suitable for framing.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.