Pandemic is bringing out the best in bankers

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My oldest nephew recently completed his Marine service and after a bit of encouragement from me, he has begun his first civilian job as a banker.

Truth be told, I offered him the same advice I’ve given to thousands over the years — that getting an entry-level, front-line job at a bank is one of the best career opportunities possible.

However, over the years of suggesting banking careers to young people, I've found that many assumed entry-level banking pays well. But that’s a relative opinion. I took a pay cut to begin my first job in banking 25 years ago. So, caveat emptor.

During periods when I hired talented folks into new banker roles, I frequently told them that they could likely find higher pay elsewhere. If their goal was to get paid as much as they possibly could instantly, an entry-level banker position might not be their choice.

However, the banking industry is not just a great long-term career opportunity, but a uniquely fulfilling one. In today’s challenging times, that’s more important now than ever.

Yes, there’s quite a few people who’ve had very rewarding careers financially. I’ve known scores of individuals who’ve come from humble backgrounds to build careers that have altered their entire family’s futures.

However, many of the happiest bankers are not the wealthiest. They make a fair living, but could likely find more money in other industries, or in other organizations.

But they truly enjoy their roles in helping customers, building and leading teams, and supporting their communities.

The stereotype of “the greedy banker” is often a false narrative when it comes to scores of bankers who work in the field to help people.

These successful bankers go to work every day to help their organizations, their peers, employees and most important, their customers.

There is a tangible benefit in reminding bank teams (and ourselves) of these facts from time to time. There is also little doubt that the current period we find ourselves in is one of those times. People doing good work for others benefit when they are reminded of the good they’re doing.

The opportunities today to have a positive impact, both big and small, on people’s lives is a privilege of a banking career. In times of disruption and confusion, when each new week seems to bring new unforeseen challenges, folks can lose sight of that.

Long before the phrase “essential business” became part of the lexicon, customers have relied on their banks far more often other service providers. Bankers see their customers during some of their best and most challenging days.

Front-line bankers empathetically assisting customers when they are confused or distressed can have an incredible impact on those customers’ lives. Outside of dealing with medical issues, few things are as stressful to most people as dealing with financial concerns.

Loan officers helping small-business owners understand their options, navigate financing and identify the best solutions to keep their businesses operating can be the difference between success and failure.

Something as basic as helping customers understand and become proficient with digital tools because they either do not know about it or are intimidated by it can save them time, effort and money. Beyond that, it can be downright life-altering to folks with limited mobility or disabilities.

There is little doubt that 2020 will not be the most financially rewarding year for many bankers. With the right perspective, however, it just might turn out to be one of their most personally rewarding.

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