The directors are obliged to rely on the general manager to a great extent for the competent administration of the bank's affairs, and he, in his turn, has to look to the branch managers and their staff for an efficient and loyal discharge of duties, for on the staff, more than on any other factor, depends the success of the bank.
The making of loans is a corollary of having the money to loan, and consequently the most important work of a manager is to attract and accumulate deposits by giving a satisfactory and effcient service to customers and the public at large. There is no difficulty about making loans; the difficulty is to know when to refuse to make them. The head office can always assist in the decision, but the manager has only the general standing of the bank and his own efforts to rely on for obtaining deposits. The value of a good loaning branch is not denied, nor the fact that loans frequently create deposits; but banking essentials should be considered in their proper sequence; first, deposits, then loans. No bank would open a branch simply to make loans; deposits or other collateral advantages must be present or in prospect.
That the loans at a branch may exceed the deposits does not alter the principle.
To attract deposits, personality, efficient service and a knowledge of human nature are necessary, but the loaning of money, in addition, calls for a high degree of tact, ability and technical training. In small transactions the manager exercises his own discretion, within certain limits established by the head office for each branch or manager. Loans exceeding this amount must first be submitted to the general manager for authorization. The requisites of a good loan will be dealt with in another chapter.
The manager has many other duties and responsibilities besides obtaining deposits and making loans. He is expected to give constant and vigilant supervision to every part of the business of his office, and to the general deportment of his staff. The fact that he is permitted by the head office to delegate a certain portion of this work to the accountant or other senior officer does not relieve him of the responsibility for anything that goes wrong.
Except at the small offices the manager is not expected to do any of the routine work of entering or posting, but he has a good deal of work to do in connection with the checking of the day's work.
A manager will find it of great advantage to himself and his staff to reach the office a little before nine. Not only can more work be done between nine and ten o'clock than in any other two hours of the day, but the manager's punctuality insures a like quality in the staff.
All checking in the office should be accomplished before ten o'clock in the morning.
The manager is then prepared to receive and interview customers, and his desk should be so placed that he can see all who enter the office. Both the manager and the accountant should be constantly on the alert to see that every customer receives prompt attention.
During the day the manager's time is fully occupied with preparing applications for credit, general correspondence and interviews with customers. Much of the manager's time is frequently wasted by customers, and offenders in this respect should be tactfully broken of the habit. Every minute of the manager's time costs money to the bank - a fact frequently overlooked by both the customer and the manager himself. The staff of a Canadian bank are designated generally as officers, irrespective of rank.
The position of accountant is a responsible one. As lieutenant or deputy of the manager he is frequently called upon to assume charge of the office whenever it may be necessary for the manager to be absent, to which end he should be thoroly acquainted with the discounts and general business of the office. A great part of an accountant's duties consists in relieving the manager of the work (but not the responsibility) of looking after the routine and general supervision of the office.
With the concurrence of the manager he apportions the work among the staff, clearly defining the duties of each officer, sees that prompt and becoming attention is given to the public, devotes such direction and teaching to his subordinates as they may require, and insures that all work is punctually performed, and none permitted to fall into arrears.
The accountant is generally expected to check all statements and returns, to see that nothing has been omitted, and to sign or initial them in attestation of their correctness, prior to handing them to the manager for completion.
The accountant jointly with the manager has control of the treasury cash and other valuables of the branch. He is also responsible for the safe-keeping of all engraved forms, such as drafts, money orders, and the like.
A great deal of responsibility is attached to the position of the officer who has charge of the cash, and known as teller. His principal duties are the receiving of deposits and the payment of checks. This work requires great care in order to avoid a loss to himself or to the bank. In most banks the tellers are required to make good all shortages in the cash. When cash is over, however, the amount is credited to an account in the deposit ledger called "cash over account."
In a small office the duties of paying and receiving teller are fulfilled by one man; in larger offices, however, the work is performed by two or more tellers, and a distinct division is made between the work of receiving and paying.
The teller must scrutinize closely all checks and cash items which are included in the deposit in order to see that they are properly indorsed and in form as to dates, amounts, etc. The total is then entered in the teller's blotter, and the slip is handed to the ledger-keeper who posts the deposit in the ledger and enters it in the customer's pass book.
The only book kept by the teller is the blotter in which all debits and credits passing thru his hands are entered. It has various columns, in which the entries are so distributed that the totals can be used by the different departments in proving the day's work. At the close of the day's business the cash is balanced and the details of the various denominations are entered in the space provided for the purpose in the teller's balance book.
A good ledger-keeper should be accurate, quick and a good writer. Accuracy is the most important qualification, as errors in posting or in extending the balance of an account might result in a loss to the bank.
A ledger-keeper should be thoroly familiar with the signatures of the bank's customers, and be constantly on the alert to detect forgeries and other irregularities.
When opening a new account care should be taken to record in the ledger all the necessary particulars. In the case of accounts with partnerships, societies, corporations, etc., both the manager and ledger-keeper should see that the necessary authorization and other documents are lodged with the bank.
Particular care must be taken, when "marking" or accepting checks, to see that they are not written in such a way that they can subsequently be changed to a larger amount. If there is any space left on either side of the written amount, it should be filled in with a heavy stroke of the pen.
The collection department is considered one of the most important in connection with the business of the bank, and the clerk in charge of this work must be careful and methodical in his work, and constantly on the alert, to see that all the details in connection with each item passing thru his hands are promptly and carefully looked after.
At most branches of the bank the larger part of the items received for collection come thru the mails from other branches and correspondents, and the majority of these are drafts on local merchants which require to be presented for acceptance. The instructions which accompany these items must be noted and carefully followed. Items which are to be protested for non-acceptance or non-payment require special attention, as the bank could be held responsible for any loss if the instructions are not carried out to the letter.
As the bank should not hold a collection unaccepted more than two days if the drawee resides in town, or over five days if he resides out of town, it is necessary to obtain the acceptance without delay or return the item with or without protest, as the case may be. It is, of course, to the interest of the bank as well as of the drawer to get all items accepted if possible. Drafts with documents attached, such as bills of lading, also require special attention, and the instructions regarding each must be carefully observed.
The work in connection with drafts issued on other branches or correspondents in payment for collections, as well as with drafts and money orders sold to customers, is generally performed by the collection clerk.
It is the duty of the discount clerk to look after the work in connection with all notes and bills discounted. Each note and bill should first be initialed by the manager, and then passed by the latter direct to the discount clerk, who should see that each item is in proper form as regards terms, date, indorsement, and the like, before entering it in the discount register. The interest is then reckoned and the proceeds credited to the customer's account thru the discount blotter. In the case of a "petty loan" a voucher is issued on which the proceeds may be drawn in cash. All interest computations should be checked by a second officer to insure correctness. Exchange on bills payable at outside points must also be deducted.
The duties of the junior, as the beginner is called, vary according to the size of the office. At a small country branch he will have charge of the collections, cash book, supplementary cash book, outgoing mail, besides various other duties which in a large office are performed by the messenger or porter. In a large office where there are several tellers, ledger-keepers, etc., his duties may consist of only one line of work. He may be one among several in charge of the supplementary cash books, and do nothing else all day than entering up deposits and checks; or he may do similar entry work in various other departments.
Describe the duties of the branch bank manager. What are the duties of the teller? Of the ledger keeper? For what work is the discount clerk responsible? What experience does the junior in a small branch receive?