Banks are considered the backbone of a country’s economy. Its more true for a developing country like India. Indian Banking system is very strong. In the global financial turmoil that happened sometime ago, our country was least affected because of soundness of Indian Banking and Financial system. In fact many countries of the world are trying to learn lessons from our disciplined system of Banking.

Banks in India are not only strong but are also growing fast. According to studies. Banking sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country. This growth has brought many opportunities.

Indian Banking Scenario

Regulation of Banking system in India started with Banking Regulation Act, 1949. Banks in India used to be in private hands. In 1969, 14 big private banks were nationalised bringing them under the ownership of government. After 11 years, in 1980, six more banks were nationalised. Of these 20 banks, one New Bank of India got merged in Punjab National Bank. Now in all there are 27 public sector banks in the country consisting of 19 nationalised banks and 8 banks from State Bank group (State Bank of India and its associates).

In the last two decades Public Sector Banks in India have witnessed a transition from traditional banking to modern technology driven banking. Exposure to competition has made these banks re-engineer and re-structure their processes, systems and product line. After economic liberalization these banks have been given enough freedom to do so. However, for various matters these are required to follow guidelines issued by Ministry of Finance, Reserve Bank of India and Indian Banks Association.

Post nationalisation, the Banks were asked to open more branches in rural areas. Large number of people were recruited to man these newly opened branches. Expanded network gave a new identity to these banks and millions of new customers came to the fold of Banking. The business of Banking moved from class banking to mass banking.

Manpower requirements

Public sector banks in India employ more than 7 lakh people at present. Of these a large number of people will be retiring in next 5-6 years. To fill this gap and to take up the growing business the Banks are on a recruiting spree as can be seen in media and from vacancy announcements. Only this year about 40,000 vacancies have been created in public sector banks due to retirements, resignations and expansion of business.

Earlier recruitments in public sector banks were made through Banking Service Recruitment Boards. Each board was taking care of manpower requirements of 3-5 banks in a certain geographical area. Now the boards have been abolished and each public sector bank may announce it’s own recruitment process for the number of people required from time to time. Thus more such advertisements are seen these days. Another change is seen in lateral hiring by these banks. Earlier officers were recruited only in Junior Management Grade. Now public sector banks are offering direct  employment in middle and senior management cadres as well. Thus for both freshers and experienced people career opportunities are available in public sector banks. To meet their manpower requirements these banks are presently recruiting in large numbers both in clerical and officer cadre.

Clerical Positions

A clerk is mostly a front staff in a bank. Depending on the requirement clerks are placed at different counters of the banks e.g. savings, deposit, current deposit, term deposit, retail loans, cash credit, agricultural loans, credit cards, government business, cash receipt or payment etc. Maximum customer interface in banks occurs at these counters managed by clerical staff.

Eligibility for Clerks

The minimum age for applying for the position of a clerk in nationalised or private sector banks is 18 years. The maximum age limit is 28 years. There is no uniformity with regard to educational qualification for eligibility. This becomes clear from the recently advertised positions of clerks in different banks. In one bank graduates with minimum 40% marks are considered eligible while another banks is accepting candidates with 60% marks in aggregate in 12th standard. Those having an university degree (in any class) could also apply. This bank has put another condition of having secured minimum 60% marks in mathematics at SSC/10th standard. As most of the recruitments in clerical cadre in public sector banks are made state-wise, the candidate applying for the post in a particular State is expected to be proficient in the language of the State. Proficiency means knowing to read, write, speak and understand the language.

Examination pattern for clerks

Eligible candidates are asked to appear in a written examination. This written examination is objective in nature consisting of four papers viz

1. Test of reasoning ability and numerical aptitude
2. Test of clerical aptitude
3. Test of English language
4. Test of General awareness

The structure of written examination may differ from bank to bank. To qualify in the written test the candidate should pass in each of the objective test separately with required minimum qualifying marks. It is also necessary that the candidate obtains a certain percentage of marks to be eligible for moving to next stage of selection.

From those who get the qualifying marks as above, the bank calls a fixed number of people to appear in the interview process. The number of people called for interview is in a certain proportion of available vacancies. This interview is a simple process in which question about candidates’   academic and cultural background, career goals etc. are asked. Effort is also made to know about his aptitude for the job and customer orientation etc. Most of the people applying for a clerks position in the bank are fresh from college. They should be ready to answer questions about their choice of subjects, streams etc. From people who are employed or have work experience, questions may be asked about the job or assignments they have been handling. In case of interview also minimum qualifying marks are prescribed.

The final merit list is drawn by adding up marks obtained by the candidate in the written test and interview.

Career Prospects

Finally selected candidates can look forward to a fruitful career in the bank, they join. All public sector banks provide training to new employees for equipping them to take up their assignments. Induction training which happens immediately or soon after joining is the first training programme they attend. Subsequently they are offered training in various banking disciplines.

Public sector banks are few organisation which offer promotion from one cadre to another. Thus those who join as clerks may be promoted as officers, as per banks norms. For bright candidates, in some banks, this promotion from a clerk to officer is possible in a period as short as one year.

Recruitments in Officers cadre

Vacancies in officers cadre in public sector banks are filled from within the organisation after promotion of clerks and also by direct recruitment. To meet the shortage of manpower in officers cadre, now a days the public sector banks are required to recruit large number of officers. Most of the vacancies for which recruitments are made are in Junior Management Graduate Scale I, which is the entry level position for joining a public sector bank as an officer. This entry level position is known as that of probationary officer or management trainee. Bank probationary officers can come from any discipline or field of study, although there is a misconception that only people from commerce or finance background are eligible. A finance or commerce background may help the candidate adjust to the banking environments faster than others but banks recruit talents from diverse backgrounds of science, literature etc.

The minimum age to apply for entry level officers position is 21 years while maximum age may be 26 years or above as decided by individual banks. As regards qualification, the candidate should at least be a graduate from a UGC recognised university. In some banks only first class graduates are considered eligible. For some other banks the minimum percentage of marks required is 55 percent. Those with post graduate qualification may get some relaxation in qualifying percentage of marks, in few cases. There have also been instances of banks preferring to recruit people with post graduate degree or diploma in management. Particular recruitment advertisement should be carefully studied to know the eligibility criteria.
The test for probationary officers consists of the following objective papers:
1. General Awareness
2. Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning
3. Verbal Reasoning
4. English

Some banks prefer to include a descriptive paper also in the test process. In this paper the candidate is required to write essay and attempt composition. Minimum qualifying marks are prescribed for both objective and subjective papers. Candidates are called for interview on the basis of marks obtained in written examination.

Interview for officers position is expected to be more comprehensive. Here along with general questions, the interview panel may try to judge the candidates understanding of nation’s economy, issues before the economy etc. One should always be ready to answer questions like ‘why you want to choose banking as a career?’, ‘what are your expectation from the job’ etc. Also questions relating to earlier job experiences may be asked. For getting selected a candidate should do    well both in written examination and interview.

Recruitment in higher scales

With some experience one can expect to join a public sector bank in a higher scale. Most of the vacancies in higher scales exist in Middle Management Grade II or III. Of course the candidate should fulfill the eligibility criteria as regards to age and qualification. The experience required for higher scales keeps changing from bank to bank, it may be one year or more. Professionally qualified people (with qualifications like MBA, CA etc) stand better chance in this regard.

Campus Recruitments

Since last 3-4 years public sector banks have started recruiting from campuses. This campus recruitment covers only a small part of their manpower needs but it has opened a new window of opportunity to students wanting to make a career in banks. From campuses banks are taking MBAs from different disciplines, agriculture graduates, chartered accountants etc.

Career Progression

There is a well defined career progression path in each public sector bank. Performance and potential are key elements which determine this career progression. Most senior officials in public sector banks started their career as clerk or scale I officer only. In tune with the time banks have reviewed their promotion policy and now for bright, hardworking and knowledgeable employees it takes less time to move to higher scales. In many banks a person who joined as an officer may reach to the position of Genera Manager in 14 years. After that one can aspire for the position of executive director or chairman of a bank. These are very high positions, nomination to which is decided by the Government and not by the individual banks.

Many public sector banks have a network of foreign branches. Thus joining a public sector bank gives you the opportunity of working abroad also. Transferability in a bank job provides you the chance of seeing different parts of the country.

To Conclude

Public sector banks may not offer fancy financial packages which multinational and few other companies offer. But the compensation in these banks with the recent wage revision and including perquisites is quite good. And there is an element of job security too. The housing and medical facilities are also considered attractive.

The expansion mode in which public sector banks in India are, is creating large number of opportunities for young people to choose banking as their career.

Career progression of Officers

Junior Management Grade – Scale I: Officer
Middle Management Grade – Scale II: Manager
Middle Management Grade – Scale III: Senior Manager
Senior Management Grade – Scale IV: Chief Manager
Senior Management Grade Scale V: Assistant General Manager
Top Management Grade Scale VI: Deputy General Manager
Top Management Grade Scale VII: General Manager