Ever since the nationalisation of banks (in 1969 and 1981), the public sector banks are significant sources of employment in the public sector arena in India. Despite various upheavals, bank personnel recruitment is one of the smoothest and free from any malpractices.

The credit for timely and effective recruitment and handling of aspirants’ mammoth numbers for bank jobs goes to the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection. With its headquarters in Mumbai and manned by professionals, the IBPS conducts recruitment tests and interviews for various clerical and officers’ vacancies in all the public sector banks including Regional Rural Banks (except SBI, as they run their separate process also under the aegis of IBPS).

The Indian banks are not only diversifying and getting into new products but some are also going global. The expansion of banking sector has created a number of job opportunities for the youth. A bank officer shoulders a gamut of responsibilities, from monitoring daily operations to developing and enforcing sound policies for the organisation. From consumer finance to wealth management; from life and general insurance to investment banking; from credit cards to custodian services; from pension fund regulation to private equity, the bank officer overseas and manages all these in his/her career span.

The role requires the bank officer to be a team player and problem solver in dealing with the other bank personnel as well as the customers. Banking industry is unique, as people can reach the top, irrespective of their entry- level designation. The promotion depends on qualifications, the various certifications and performance. Most of the promotion process entails written test and interview for all cadres.

Two cadres of employees, clerical staff, and the officers, run the Indian banking scene.

Recruitments are based on two stages of written tests viz. preliminary and final, conducted online at various Online Testing Centres all over the country.

For officers, the written test is followed by an interview conducted by retired bank personnel. The interview panels are such that a woman, SC/ST, minority, and one OBC interviewer must represent each panel.

The chairman of the panel has to be a retired general manager of a bank. Such strict regulations give credence to the whole recruitment process and eliminate any form of malpractice.

The officers’ cadre in banks may be roughly divided into two categories viz. general officers and specialised officers. General officers are the directly recruited probationary officers or the promotee officers (who become officers after proper tests and interview from clerical cadre). Specialised officers have a separate cadre in most of the banks and separate promotion system.

There is a separate recruitment process for them and the normal specialised officers are technical officers (engineers), chartered accountants, economists, official language officers (hindi officers), security officers (normally ex servicemen), it officers, law officers, personnel officers, agriculture field officer. Probationary officers are recruited as junior management grade, Scale I.

The starting salary is better in the State Bank of India than in other banks as SBI gives four extra increments to POs. In many banks, the specialised officers are recruited in a higher scale than the initial one. But it varies from bank to bank.

The promotion process of specialised officers is separate for their cadre. The hierarchical ladder for officers in a bank is JMGS I (Asst. Managers); MMGSII (Dy. Managers), MMGS III (Managers), SMGS IV (Chief Managers), SMGS V (Asst. General Managers), TMGS VI (Dy. General Managers) and TMGS VII (General Managers). Now a new scale has been added in most banks i.e., TMGS VIII (chief general managers).

Any officer, whether joining as PO or as specialised officer or even as clerks, can aspire to go to the top in the banking industry. The probationary officers after the basic training are mostly posted in branches of the bank. After a few years, they are given the responsibility of branch manager too, who is the overall in-charge of the branch.

The performance of the branch is judged by growth in business, the quality of loans, hassle free operations and good customer service. A number of branches are put under one region where the regional officer monitors the performance of the branch and annual appraisal of the branch manager is given by the regional manager.

After reaching the highest-level TMGS VII, the Govt. of India selects people amongst those having ample time for retirement for the post of Executive Directors in the Banks, and thereafter from the EDs the MD-cumCEOs are selected, on the basis of performance and interview conducted by Banks Board Bureau (BBB), the headhunter for top management of state-run banks and financial institutions.

It is clear to see that the career path of a bank officer lucrative as well as satisfying.

The job responsibilities increase as you rise up the hierarchy and the learning curve goes on increasing. No wonder, the position of a bank officer is much sought after.

The writer is senior knowledge expert, T.I.M.E