No doubt about it, the banking and finance sector in Singapore pays well! According to data collected from employer job postings on JobStreet.com, fresh grads can earn a base salary of nearly $3,000 a month doing financial sales. If you’re a senior executive with several years of experience, banks are willing to pay you more than $4,700 a month to do the same job – and that’s not even counting commissions!
Sounds great right? According to Stephen, an ex-sales executive for one of Singapore’s biggest banks, working in financial sales at a bank is anything but paradise.
Here are 5 reasons why Stephen says working at a bank sucks:
1. The Red Tape
When a customer asks you a question, how do you respond? You respond by answering the question! But at a bank, when it comes to approving or answering customer requests, your hands are tied by plenty of red tape. That’s because many customer requests can’t be approved at the ground level.
“When customers make requests that you can’t approve at your level, the request gets passed on to higher levels until it gets answered,” says Stephen.
But the worst part about red tape isn’t waiting around for someone to answer to your customer’s request. The worst part is having customers breathing down your neck for their requests every day via email, phone call, or in-person.
“It sucks. You waste so much time waiting for an answer while your customers get angrier each day.” relates Stephen. “It slows down your daily work, and can even cost you a sale if you can’t approve the customer’s request, or he gets tired of waiting and goes to another bank.”
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2. The Decreasing Product Revenue
While the base salary for a financial sales isn’t too bad, the commissions make the job worthwhile. Unfortunately, as the bank reduces the revenue per financial product, your take home pay from commissions gets reduced too.
What ends up happening is that when you join the bank, the management promises you a certain commission per product. But because of competition, the bank ends up reducing the cost of its financial products, reducing your commissions.
“You could be making a certain amount on commissions when you join, but the banks can reduce your commissions in as little as a few months once they cut prices,” says Stephen. “That means you’ll have to work even harder every time the bank reduces its product revenue.”
3. The Disruption of Your Work/Life Balance
Working at a bank isn’t the 9-5 job you think it is. In fact, many financial sales specialists are still working while the 9-5 crowd is out enjoying the happy-hour specials at Harry’s. That’s because the only time that customers can meet with a financial sales specialist is after working hours, or on weekends.
Sadly, meeting customers isn’t the only reason why you’ll end up working over the weekend.
“Although your bank office is closed, you’re still expected to be at showflats or booths on the weekends. It’s compulsory. You can’t just MC, and if you do, the bank will investigate whether you really were sick, so have your slip with you,” relates Stephen.
Sometimes, these weekend events can be a complete waste of time because of poor planning. So don’t be surprised if you end up manning a booth on Saturday that’s in a location with little or no customers!
4. The Pain of Interdepartmental Cooperation
Ping-pong is the best word to describe interdepartmental cooperation at a bank. Why? Because when you request a document from another department and they either send you wrong or screwed up documents, you’ve got to send it back.
So documents get bounced back and forth between departments like a ping-pong ball until one side wins. “Bouncing documents back and forth adds to your work load at the end of the day because it just adds to your backlog of work to do, and it’s a huge time waster,” says Stephen.
Another pain of interdepartmental cooperation deals with “tai chi,” or the passing of a request from one person to another until it gets answered. This will be another big reason why you’ll end up working late at night.
5. The Turf Wars between Sales Staff
While not as deadly as the infamous “turf wars“ of the 1980s, financial sales turf wars nevertheless lead to a lot of friction between salesmen working at the same bank.
“Let’s say that a customer in Sengkang sends the bank a request. It’s supposed to go to a financial sales specialist in Sengkang, but someone from the Ang Moh Kio branch calls him and takes the sale. That’s just like stealing from someone’s rice bowl when they’re not looking,” relates Stephen.
Many banks try to prevent turf wars by putting “rules of engagement” in place. However, not every bank has such rules in place. So don’t be surprised if your competition for customers includes financial sales specialists from your own bank too!