Monday, April 7, 2008

The Torture called Banking

It’s 9.45pm on a Wednesday. I had just gotten off the phone with a banker friend of mine. The conversation ended up lasting less than 15 seconds. No, the connection didn’t prematurely end. The brevity of the call was because the gentleman told me, in a hushed tone, that he couldn’t speak at the time. Simply because he was in the middle of a meeting in the office. In the background, I could hear some of his colleagues discussing work-related matters. I rechecked my watch, just to be sure what time it was. I hadn’t been wrong. It was 15 minutes to 10.And this chap was in the middle of a meeting at the office.Wow.I didn’t know whether to laugh or sympathize with him. I then thought about the likely possibility of him getting home around 11pm or later.The next thing that came to my mind was him reluctantly having to wake up a few hours later for another busy day. If you are currently in the banking industry, what you’ve just read might not sound like such a big deal as many of you are probably used to long hours being spent at the office.However,I wonder what most employees really feel about this ‘torture’ in the name of collecting a salary. From various interactions i’ve had with bankers, picking up your stuff to close at 5.30pm would draw serious stares from your colleagues & bosses alike. Like you were walking around the office naked. So my wonder is this: Why do most bankers work such lengthy hours? Some say it’s a way of avoiding the regular rush hour traffic in the evenings. Could it possibly be a bit of eye-service, as well? As in, to seem like such a committed workaholic in the eyes of your boss or superiors? Or is your bank/unit/department understaffed,thereby creating an enormous amount of workload for the available hands to handle? I had actually thought that with the capitalization exercise carried out by the CBN a few years ago, things in this area would improve. My angle being that there would be only about 25 banks in operation(as against the 80+ we had before) thereby reducing competition, and that the 25 would have vast amount of funds available at their disposal, thereby reducing the pressure experienced in the past with marketing,rivals,financing of required staff number requirements/remuneration costs etc.For married, female bankers, there’s also a negative impact lengthy work hours could have with the domestic requirements at home, especially when children are involved. So my dear people, what exactly makes it ‘unofficially’ necessary that most bank employees close late? As for my banker friend, I hope he gets spared the current torture he’s experiencing, though. I thought i heard only witches/wizards met late at night.