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Profile of an occupation – bank clerk

The banking sector is in a transitional phase. Digital customer relationships and tools are gaining in significance, and online services are in greater demand than ever, including and especially in times of “social distancing”. Under such circumstances, the importance of structuring customer relations in a sustainable way is particularly increasing, hence why modernisation of the training occupation of bank clerk came at the right time.

Profile of an occupation – bank clerk
Consultation at a bank branch

Structural changes in the banking sector

Figure 1
Figure 1: Number of bank branches and proportion of users of online banking

The banking sector is changing. Structural shifts on the market are leading to branch closures and staff cuts, whilst the number of people using online banking has been rising continuously for years (cf. Fig. 1). As well as settling their bank transactions online and taking advantage of mobile payment processes, customers are availing themselves of digital financial services on an ever more frequent basis.

Although modern information and communications technology has been a prevalent part of the tasks undertaken by bank clerks over a period of decades, advancing digitalisation in banking is generating a sense of dynamism and altering both business processes and types of work in a fundamental manner. Today’s bank customers make proactive use of digital channels to find the information they need and then often go on to make their own investment or loan decisions if the products involved are simple. Although specialist consultations are still required in cases where products are more complex, new digital ways of providing advice and of communicating are taking their place alongside face-to-face meetings. The coronavirus pandemic is exerting a significant additional impact in terms of amplifying this tendency. For all of these reasons, the current steps having been undertaken to modernise the occupation came at a very apposite time.

Customers are at the heart of the new training regulations

New training regulations governing training in the occupation of bank clerk entered into force at the start of the present training year in August 2020. As well as mapping the traditional business areas covered by a financial institution, these updated regulations have also been supplemented to cover the different requirements which now apply in respect of customer-related competencies. The main focus is on providing holistic consultancy services to support customers with all financial matters.

Career entry to the banking sector

Figure 2
Figure 2: Career entrant groups in the private banking sector 2018

The classic access route into banking still begins with an apprenticeship in the form of vocational education and training in the occupation of bank clerk. More than 60 percent of career entrants to the private banking sector complete dual training. The second most popular option is entry by higher education graduates via a banking trainee programme which is of a duration of at least six months. Just under 19 percent of job starters pursue traineeships of this kind. Around 11 percent of these have finished a banking apprenticeship before embarking on their course of study. The third most common pathway is dual higher education study, a choice made by approximately 14 percent of young professionals. Direct entrants account for 6 percent of persons going into banking (cf. Fig. 2).

The new training regulations are only the seventh set of provisions to be enacted since formal vocational education and training in the occupation began more than 80 years ago. They replace the existing regulations, which date from 1998. A total of 22,638 persons were undergoing training in the occupation of bank clerk in 2018. Slightly more than half of these (11,736) were women. 10,017 of these apprentices sat their final examination in the same year. The pass rate of 98.2 percent was significantly higher than the average level of success recorded for participants in dual training occupations as a whole (92.7%).

Special term – holistic consultancy

“Provide customers with holistic advice” is one of the new occupational profile positions contained within the modernised training regulations. Holistic consultancy places the central emphasis on customers and on their individual situation and needs and forms the foundation for sustainable customer relations. This qualification is thus informed by communicative, language, social and socio-communicative competencies, by analytical skills, by the ability to think in a networked way, and by the capability to deploy digital tools and methods within the scope of professional tasks.

Career options

The banking sector offers both subsequent courses of study and a plethora of initial and advanced training opportunities which facilitate the assumption of more demanding tasks. These open up a range of career pathways at banks and elsewhere. The following qualifications should be mentioned in particular.

  • Certified banking economist, certified senior savings bank clerk, certified banking economist for savings banks, certified banking economist qualification from the “BankCOLLEG” Association
  • Certified senior clerk for insurance and finances, certified senior leasing clerk, certified advisor for financial services, certified senior financial consulting clerk
  • Specialist commercial clerk for in-company pension provision (Chamber of Commerce and Industry), finance and investment economist (public administration), business economist for insurance (German Insurance Academy)

At a glance

(Compiled by Arne Schambeck)

Sources: Association of German Banks; Employers’ Association of the Private Banking Sector (AGV Banken); Trainee Data System (DAZUBI), survey as of 31 December 2018, success rate II

Translation from the German original (published in BWP 4/2020): Martin Kelsey, GlobalSprachTeam, Berlin