The cashier is the chief executive officer and has general oversight of the internal workings of the bank. He should be thoroughly familiar with the details of all the departments. Generally he has had practical experience in the various departments of the bank and so can intelligently advise and direct the force of tellers and clerks. He usually acts as secretary of the board of directors. He verifies reports and certificates, and signs the circulating notes. The stock ledger and the dividend book are usually in his charge. He is responsible for the funds, securities and valuables of the bank; he signs the cashiers' checks, bank drafts and vouchers; and in some cases attends to the buying and selling of exchange. He may rediscount paper or pledge securities for borrowing money for the bank, but such dealings should be with the knowledge and consent of the directors.
New depositors are referred to the cashier, and he is careful to satisfy himself that their accounts are desirable. A bank is not compelled to accept any and every account, and subsequent loss can sometimes be guarded against by refusing the accounts of undesirable firms. Some banks make it a rule not to carry any account below a certain minimum amount. The cashier is expected to know the condition of the bank at all times and to be able to advise the officers how any department stands. Every day the head bookkeeper makes up for him a condensed statement of the assets and liabilities, so that he can tell at a glance the condition of the deposits, loans, cash reserves and other important items. Another duty that falls to the cashier is to conduct the correspondence. In the larger banks having many correspondents this is a task of great magnitude and importance, and has to be divided up among several assistants.
In small banks where a special credit department is not warranted, the cashier is the chief credit officer. Though he may not have authority to grant loans he usually has to supply to the loaning officer or committee information regarding the credit and financial responsibility of the applicant. Formerly the cashier was not allowed to hold stock in his own bank, but now he is generally a stockholder and often a director. Surely as a stockholder he loses nothing of his interest in the general welfare and prosperity of the bank. Because of the many duties required of the cashier, the larger banks find it necessary to give him one or more assistants. In the Chicago bank mentioned above as having six vice-presidents, there are nine assistant cashiers. As indicated by the title, the duty of the assistant cashier is to assist the cashier in such ways as he or the directors may outline, and to perform the official duties of the cashier in his absence.
Some city banks retain a Legal adviser, who may or may not be a stockholder and director, He passes upon all legal questions that arise affecting business paper, transfer of stock, the management of real estate, the validity of contracts and documents and similar matters. The larger banks and trust companies also have an auditor, who supervises the accounts, vouchers and records.
Having traced the more important duties of the officers of a bank, we may now proceed to describe the duties of the clerks and employees.