LIFE DURING AND AFTER BANKING
written by Alex ESomonu
By its nature, Banking Job exposes bankers and bank workers to lot of financial information. In the same vein, the job requires the staff of bank (being public attendants) to look good at all time. Even though many bankers complain of their take-home, one of the good paying jobs one could find around is still Banking Job. Besides, because it is a job that strives on integrity and trust, the credit rating given to Bankers in some quarters are very high. They are generally considered to be credit worthy. The implication of the above is that Bankers could easily use what they ‘want’ to use today and pay later. The earlier Bankers were deemed to be conservative. The ethics of the profession made them to be frugal in their spending. Because he was supposed to be a financial adviser to people who requires his services, the banker of yesteryears cultivated a very strict personal financial management principle. No wonder he earned himself the description ‘bankers are stingy’
Sequel to modernization, today bankers have thrown ethics into the dust bin. Today, Banks MD’s move around in their private jets, even when the treasures he strives on is the depositors’ Fund. Those who are even joining the bank at entry level are already pledging the income they have not earned against facilities, assets and liabilities taking today. An average Nigerian Banker lives above his means. A life of no savings for the raining day. A life full of portfolio of debts. Bankers, having taken all the loans they could take from their employer even go to other Banks and take more loans, without even considering the ability to pay back. You now see Cheques drawn on staff account being returned on the ground of insufficient fund. If the ‘dishonored cheque (dud cheque) Act of 1977 should be evoked against Nigerian Bankers, many of us would be cooling off behind the bar by now. Our livelihood now depends on credit card with a very high default rate. Many of us, if our employer asks us to go today, we have no ‘run rate’ that could keep us for one week. Our cheques which are supposed to be as good as Bank drafts are now been relegated to the background by our business partners. Why should this be? It is simply because of the way we manage our finance while in paid employment. The objective of my write-up is to identify the possible punctures in our approach to life as bankers and offer possible advise which could help us while out of the banking Job. Please get me right, I am not absorbing my self from the issue at stake for I am not a saint. My thought is that at the conclusion time, everyone, including me would have to ponder and have a rethink on certain things that requires improvement in our approach to life.
Reasons why Bankers have issue with their personal financial management.
These are numerous as they are described below.
(a)Societal expectation: To an average Nigerian, a Banker is always rich. In fact, some family member believes he owns the cash in the vault of the Bank. Most relations tend to tie their financial responsibilities to any member of their families working with a Bank. Since a friend of mine got a job as the second level officer in a new generation Bank, he has been the one forcefully saddled with all sorts of financial responsibilities both from his family members and the wife’s. He has automatically assumed the position of the financier of all projects and programmes undertaken by the family. As a banker he is very rich. After all, he works in the ‘house of money’. The unfortunate thing is that most of us even try to match-up with the societal expectation. Many of us would go and obtain loan to finance non-income generating ventures with a view to satisfying the people around us. People who would never get satisfied. People who will always come back for more.
(b)Behaviour of peers: Because a colleague of mine is riding a ‘Prado jeep’ I want to equally ride the same kind of car. Because he wears very expensive Italian jackets to the office, I want to wear same also. I easily forget that though we are equally born, we are not equally affluent. We may be earning the same salary at month end; this does not mean that we shoulder the same responsibilities. He might even have other source(s) of income (legitimate or otherwise) that I am not aware of. Why don’t I just face the reality and put my self in his proper financial level rather than running after someone’s arrant display of extravagance. This factor has made so many Bankers to become perpetual debtors to money lenders.
(c)Lack of budgetary spending: This sounds somehow unreasonable but you believing me or not, many Bankers spend their salary income without a forecast of their expenses. The only thing forecasted is the salary because they know their pay day in advance. Good budgets are not done in the heart. They are done on paper and religiously followed by heart at the point of spending. Many bankers buy goods impulsively. Nothing is planned ahead, just anything goes. No wonder many of us could just be bumped to by anyone selling many things we do not even need, and before a twinkle of an eye we would already be in for the deal. This is an indication of poor financial planning. Ask any of your colleagues about how much his daily earning is, I can bet it that he would have to compute and re-compute before he would give any answer. If you do not know your daily earning by heart, there is no way your daily spending would not outweigh your daily earning
(d)Poor healthy living: Health, they say is wealth. Perhaps because of the pressure of job, some bankers do not even take time to do regular medical check-up. Our minds are consistently focused on deposit mobilization. The effect of this is that medical defects hide for months and years in our body system without been attended to. This would impair productivity at work and when the situation becomes worse, it would lead to high medical expenditure.
I can continue to mention so many points on this, but for time and space constraints, let me dabble into other important aspects of discussion.
Tips on living a stress-free life during banking career
(a)Plan exit at entry: The day you take up a pay job should be the day you sit down and plan your entry out of the job. Get me right, I am not saying you should be pessimistic or jettisoning of career development. What I am saying is that having gotten your offer letter, discount your proposed monthly take home by at least 10% (it could be more) and use this as your personal pension fund allowance. In other words, if your entry level salary is say N80, 000.00 as proposed in your offer letter, simply assume that your take home salary is 90% of N80,000.00 which equals N72,000.00. The remaining balance of N8, 000.00(10%) should be transferred to your personal pension fund account on monthly basis. Make no mistake; do not maintain your personal pension fund account in a savings account in your bank or any other bank. Transfer it monthly to time-linked investment product maintained with reputable insurance company or fund manager. Please note that this part of your salary is not your usual monthly savings. It is untouchable until when you live your job. As your salary grows, of course your contribution grows and since it is invested for you by the fund manager, you earn income which is also capitalized. With this kind of arrangement, you have an assurance of happy life to a greater extent after you might have left the job. I must stress that this requires a serious discipline and it is better done when one is about to start a job than when the person is already used to spending all his salary.
(b) Cultivate a good saving culture: however hard it might be, save. Saving requires serious discipline and sacrifices. As long as the elementary principle of insatiability of human wants in economics is still valid, one wants would always outweigh his income. No one salary his enough. If your salary is increased today, you would only appreciate your management that month, the second month; your expenses would adjust in response to the increase in your salary. No wonder the motivational school of thought in management concluded that salary is never a motivator. However, if your salary is slashed down by your management by let say 20% today, you will not die, you will still cope, it might take time, your expenses would find a way of adjusting to the decrease in the income. So why don’t you further cut down your salary by additional 20% and put into your recurrent saving account. Any increase in your salary should never be viewed as an increase in income, rather as an increase in savings. Transfer such increase, if possible in, in entirety to your savings. Not because of today, but because of tomorrow. In addition to this, you could create emergency savings account for emergency situations.
© Avoid credit like a plaque: To the best of your ability, avoid spending what you would have tomorrow today. The only thing you have is what you have today. Use it judiciously. Do not make credit card your means of livelihood. This is simply an indication that you are living above your means. Where future expectation fails, credit obtained against them would put you under pressure. If expectation of future income fails and you are not owing, standard of living would only reduced, you would not be exposed to embarrassment. If you must take loan, credit card or any other form of credit, use them for an income generating venture. If a commercial bank is offering me a personal loan at 23% per annum and I have a secured investment opportunity that would fetch me 5% per month, I would be a dullard to refuse such a loan simply because I do not want to owe. At the same time I would be a bad decision maker if I refused to take loan to acquire a landed property of which I know if I become incapacitated to pay, I could dispose the property at a profit and pay up the indebtedness. What I am saying is that credit must be used for what would yield income more than the cost of the credit
(e)The salary you are receiving now is the last you would be paid: I am not cursing you. What I am saying is that treat every salary you earn as the last you would earn from the Bank. All of us would loose this job one day. We would all stop going to this place we go to everyday. Some would leave forcefully and some would leave willfully. Some would be celebrated, some would be frustrated. Some would be disgraced, some would be tactically disengaged. This is a bitter pill we must all swallow. It could happen at any time to any body at any bank. Remember how many people you knew in the bank when you joined, how many have left, how many have joined. Many would still join. Many would still leave. You would leave, I would leave. So we must appreciate every salary we earn. We must use it judiciously because we might not earn another. If Banks’ MDs could be thrown out like papers, tell me who is fortified.
(f)Love your job: There are millions of better jobs outside, but you do not have them. The job you do now deserves your best input. You must give all the commitment and attention you have to it. “If a man pays you, be loyal to him” ensure that you earn your pay. As long as you have not gotten another job, be diligent in the one that you do now. The Book of books says a man who is diligent in his work shall sit among princes. When you love your job, you would be happy doing what you do.
(g)Place premium on integrity: The quality of honesty you have within you determines the level of respect you earn from people. When people knows that you are honest and reliable, they are comfortable been with you. As a banker, the only thing you offer to your business parties is integrity. Never you issue a dud cheque. Your cheque is you. If your understanding of the power of a “Holder in due Course” of a negotiable instrument as codified in the bill of exchange Act 1990 is as same as mine, you would do everything to avoid anyone setting himself as a holder in due course against you on any financial instrument issued by you. Where circumstances made it imperative for you not to be able to honour your obligation, truthfully go to your business partner and negotiate for settlement time.
(h)Value relationships: Talent is not enough. This is the title of a very interesting book of John Maxwell. Compliment your talent with nourishment of good relationships you build. Allow no relationship to go sour. Give gift when necessary to massage your relationships. Every successful person is so successful not because of his professionalism, but because of his positive attitude towards relationship management. Those you meet today might be your helper of tomorrow.
(i)Have a life: Do not limit your existence to the confine of your bank and your family. Create fun for yourself. Take time out to see what operates in the other part of the world. Take advantage of your holiday to visit places (please do not borrow to do this). Life goes beyond cabal and DDA mobilization. In the same vein, eat good food, sleep well. Exercise your body system. Give yourself and your family good treat sometime.
(j)Have options: That you are not having another job does not mean you can not build a bank of business ideas. It does not even mean you can not establish businesses that could generate income as long as the management of such would not affect your banking Job. Have income from other sources for this is the key that opens the door of financial breakthrough. Please get my article referenced above on this.
(k)Develop yourself: Love to study? Please do. Go for world class certificate for this would increase your labour market worth. Many of us have being in the banking sector since almost three years now. The only certificate we are still carrying around is our first degree. First degree that is available everywhere. No self development, no further study. No wonder we can not throw in the towel any time our employer did not treat us nice enough. You have any natural talents, nurture and develop it that might be your key to amazing wealth and fame in life. You want to know more on this? Read my article titled the millionaire within you-your talent.
(l)Be a giver: no matter your condition, you are better than somebody. Someone somewhere needs your assistance, no matter little, reach out to them. When you give, you are automatically positioned to receive. Pay your tithe in the church. If a Muslim, give sakat. These position you for divine blessing.
(m)Invest in Assets: You’re upfront, your Performance Bonus are not meant to be squandered. Like your salary, view the one you receive today as the last you will receive. Use it judiciously. Invest them in secured income-generating ventures. Buy assets (not pleasurable rides) that would consolidate your wealth when you call it a quit.
(n)Be prayerful: There is nothing any man can do on earth except that which has been allowed by God. Maintain a cordial and flowing relationship with your creator. Let him be the ultimate decision maker in your life. He is the Banker of bankers and he will definitely show you the way.
Life after Banking
I may not be completely qualified to discuss this sub-head since I am still in the banking industry. Events around me however could form the basis of my perception on the issue. I have seen many bankers who came out of the system only to find themselves becoming laughing stocks in the society as they have nothing to show for their many years of service in the financial sector. Like I said earlier, one day, all of us would seize to come to this place we have hitherto be coming for our daily pay. Banks all over the country are downsizing to reduce staff cost. You are not better than those who are affected, neither are you more skillful. It can happen at any time. The motto like that of Boys’ scout society is Be prepared.
In addition to all the tips given above, this few points mentioned below would help you in living a happy life after Banking.
(a)Develop an entrepreneurial Skill: Build a value chain you can offer to the society. Your integrity tested and trusted while in banking job would help you generate business relationships, but this would only help if you have a value to offer.
(b)Attend seminars and workshops: load yourself up with useful information on your chosen endeavor. Attend business seminars and always develop new skill that would help you in providing solutions to issues.
(c)Mix up: Make yourself relevant in the society, not by showing off, but by supplying inputs where relevant. Join social clubs, church organizations, and charitable societies and attend occasions and participate.
Let me conclude at this junction by saying that the care and caution you exercise today would yield good returns today. For you to enjoy good life after banking, you must have to live good life during Banking. Today’s pain is tomorrow gain.