Friday, December 18, 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It SN-OH, MY BACK!

A blizzard is on it's way to the Northeast, and I for one could not be more excited. I am in the minority that loves a good snowfall. While everyone else is cursing and spitting at me, I smile gleefully and watch the white drop from the skies. I am pretty good at predicting snow, sometimes days in advance, because my back and knees hurt much more with the change in weather. The joke around the branch is that I have weather control powers, because when I knew it was going to snow, I would hold out my hand and say "SNOW!" and usually within an hour or so, the flakes would start.

My manager is also a bit of a barometer when it comes to foul weather; if she takes a spill, you know snow is on it's way. She's sort of like the groundhog; when Alice sees the ground up close, Winter is here. It only helps my glee that I have a nine day weekend coming up. Some nice snow, a family Christmas party this Saturday, going to see Wintuk on Sunday, and then a week leading up to Christmas! Who could ask for more?

And as an extra added bonus, my cashmere scarf rubbing against my waterproof jacket in the ice cold air is making for a spectacular electrical discharge every time I touch anything metal or anyone, including our tellers. They call me... THE ZAPPER! K-POW!

As Krusty the Klown says, everyone have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, a Krazy Kwanza, a Tip-Top Tet, and a solemn and dignified Rhamadan!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peer Pressure

Today, I journeyed to our branch in Ronkonkoma for something called a Peer Meeting to review something called Best Practices with something called the GAIN model. It was a welcome change of pace and very informative!

The day lead off with a conference call with our Northeast Branch Distribution Market Executive, Nick Oaks. In it, they thanked us for our continued efforts, and recognized one of our New York City branches for their performance during a visit by our CEO. It was refreshing to hear a branches efforts recognized individually. The call also detailed what's coming for the first quarter of 2010. It was nice to be able to hear Mr. Oaks speak, he seems like a very personable guy who genuinely cares about the people who keep this company running smoothly.

The session was lead by Relationship Bankers from a variety of branches in our region, some of whom came in during their scheduled vacations to share with the rest of us what has worked for them with the new GAIN training. It was a forum in which we could share our successes (successful "pen in eye" surgeries) and air our grievances (like the lack of a hot tub and/or massage therapist in our branch).

It had the feeling of an informal brainstorming session, and the fact that it was people who walk in our shoes everyday giving the talk really sent it home for me. These aren't people who haven't worked in a branch for years (or in some cases, ever). These are the people fighting the same fight I fight every day, and to hear that not only do they sometimes have the same problems, but that they are able to craft solutions and share them, it really gave me a boost.

I have been doing pretty well with the GAIN myself, though I still haven't been close to making my numbers, and the only low point of the day was a few people insisting that no matter how slow or small our branch is, so long as we correctly profile, we will make our points. I have never been told that I am doing my profiling incorrectly, and I have been embracing the GAIN training whole heartedly, yet I have not once made my points. Is it my breath? My cologne? My incoherent mumbling and twitching? For them to insist it must be that I am doing my profiling incorrectly was irksome, but I took a lot of tools away from this meeting that will enhance what I've already been doing. It's like learning a new grip on the bat; maybe you already knew how to hit a baseball, but hooking your lower pinky around the knob of the bat handle could add another few MPH to your swing (true, by the way; it makes you turn your wrists over during the swing).
I look forward to the next Peer Meeting, and especially to the free breakfast that they provided (us fat guys loves our free meals).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Fiscal United Bank Pulling A Holiday Prank...

It's Fiscal United Bank Pulling A Holiday Prank...

I broke my self-imposed work blog retirement to post the following:

We received a list of holidays for 2010. Christmas is listed as being observed on Friday, December 24th, 2010. Not trusting the obvious, and despite the fact that everyone in the branch said it was a stupid question and were confident we would also be closed Christmas Day, I sent a missive to HR to check if the bank would also be closed on December 25th. AMAZINGLY, I received a reply that no, indeed, the branches would be open Saturday, December 25th, 2010.

One of these three things must, therefore, be true:
A.) Individual members of our HR Department just make up answers off the top of their head without consulting anyone in charge of deciding such things;
B.) They're letting some holiday slide rule generate our holiday schedule without taking common sense into account; or
C.) Fiscal United Bank plans on being open on Christmas Day. Let me re-emphasize that. Open on CHRISTMAS DAY.

This reminded me of the July 4th mishap this summer, where we received memos and window clings stating we would be closed on Friday, July 3rd, and OPEN on Saturday, July 4th. We were told, within a few days, that we should throw away the window clings, and that we would be open on July 3rd and closed on July 4th. I have to assume that this story will end in a similar manner, and that they will send us a memo with a good natured chuckle and say "yeah, we're not actually gonna be open CHRISTMAS DAY. Just funnin' ya."

But that still belabors the question, WHY would this even be suggested? Who is actually going to truck into work at a BANK on CHRISTMAS DAY? Moreover, WHO NEEDS a bank open Christmas Day? Even TD NORTH Bank is closed then, and they're stuck open for eternity.

Silly, silly stuff. Just goes to show you, A.) be sure to read your daily updates, and B.) there ARE no stupid questions.

Eagerly looking forward to see how Fiscal United Bank resolves this one :)

And this is what my audience had to say...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Good Ones

As much as I am not enamoured with every customer that walks through our door, I have to tell you, there are some that are really wonderful. There really is something refreshing when someone comes into the branch, sits at my desk, and leaves after only a few minutes, smile on their faces, problems solved. It really makes the day worth while.

I love helping people. I love it when someone is able to leave better than they came in. I'm a sucker for a pretty girl crying, and when I'm able to offer them a tissue and a ray of hope, and they leave thinking everything is going to be alright, it just makes my day.

I love the old ladies who call me sweet potato just for giving them their account balances. I love the old guys who let me call them by their first name, but thank me for calling them by their last name. I love the young ladies who think I have been in the banking world for 100 years. I love the guys who look to me to advise them on the best way to save their hard earned money.

Not every client is fun. But there are some that make my job worth doing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jane Sykes, Chapter Six: In Which We Learn To Keep Our Backs To The Wall At All Times

There are moments in everyone’s life that could be in a movie, no editing needed, presented as real as if it were actually happening, that audiences would eat up with a knife and fork. Some people have maybe a pair of these moments in their entire life, some people are pretty much Forrest Gump.

I am more of a Forrest Gump type. This is one of my moments.

RB: “Thank you for calling Fiscal United Bank, this is your Relationship Banker speaking, how can I help you?”

JS: “Yes, this is Jane Sykes, I have several accounts in your institution, and I always call and talk to you.”

RB: “Yes, of course, how can I help you?”

JS: “What’s the number of the insurance place?”

RB: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what insurance place you’re talking about. Let-”

JS (interrupting, nearly shouting in a slow, garbled choke): LOOK OUT YOUR WINDOW!

RB (eyes wide, slowly turning, screeching horror music playing in my head, expecting to see a hideous apparition of Jane Sykes floating outside my window with a butcher knife): “Um…” (seeing the window with the insurance place’s number printed on it across the street ) “Oh. 555-3262.”

JS: “Thank you, darling.” CLICK

Coming soon to a theatre near you.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hello Valued Customers!

Hello Valued Customers! It is our pleasure to help you! Please follow the guidelines listed below to make our time together as efficient and smooth as possible!

A.) Have your money COUNTED when trying to open an account with a $4,000+ wad of mixed bills;

B.) If you actually just bring in a wad of uncounted bills, kindly hand them over to the banker for counting, rather than counting the bills one at a time while they are still rubber banded;

C.) Have said wad of bills separated into denomination rather than crammed together in a roll in no discernable order;

D.) Tell the nice banker trying to open your account the TRUTH when it comes to how much you're depositing for the opening deposit, instead of just inventing a number;

E.) Please stay at the desk while someone is spending their valuable time helping you, don't wander into the parking lot;

F.) "Sign here" means "sign here," not "stare blankly at the form before ignoring it completely and moving on to another piece of business";

G.) If you hear the phrase "supposed to go to lunch," uttered by the employee or anyone talking to the employee in question, it's alwasy a good idea to keep it brief;

And H.) Don't, above all else, then imply to the person who is helping you that the only reason you opened the account is because you assumed you could use it to circumvent tax law by shifting money from your business account to your personal account (Just a pointer).

These little tips should keep us all smiling! Thanks, and have a Zero Problems kinda day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mum's The Word

Seeing as how the entirety of Western Civilization was falling because of the contents of my work blog (a.k.a. HR got their panties in a bunch because they are too thin skinned to accept a little parody), I decided to call it a wrap on the Average Joe. Here's what the post said:

"Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback. However, some people have found my posts to be somehow offensive. Seeing as how I had no idea that what I was posting could possibly be offensive, it becomes clear to me that I have not yet refined my senses enough to know what is considered offensive. Rather than run the risk of offending anyone else, I will simply doff my cap, take a small bow, and step quietly out of the blogosphere. All my best, folks!"

And here's how my audience responded...

GAIN and GROWTH, Day One

So I've ALREADY screwed up.

The first day with the new G.A.I.N. model (heretofore de-acronymized to GAIN) and I've already botched things up. My first client, and I forgot to use the profiling sheet. I managed to fill it out after the fact, but I'm nervous now. I was okay with this last week, before we actually had to do it, but now, in crunch time, I'm folding like an origami laundromat holding a 2-7 offsuit.

Don't you hate that? I had all sorts of time to come up with questions during training, but I thought I had a handle on it. Now, I look at the sheet and I feel like I am missing the glasses that Nicholas Cage had in National Treasure. What are we supposed to put in the Greet box? That we greeted them? Yes? Check mark? What we said? How they responded?

Now that I feel like I am under a microscope, I am floundering.

Eh. I'm frazzled anyway these past few weeks. All I know is in 2 weeks, I am gone for a week long road trip to God knows where. Gonna Kerouac it for a few days.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Time Travelers Product Review: You Save Checking

Greetings, denizens of yesteryear! I have traveled back from 21 days in the fantastic future to give you a glimpse of your destiny! I went into a branch and listened to customer feedback concerning your new You Save Checking product. Here's how it went down:


Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "So if you're interested, let's just get a retinal scan,* and we can start opening the You Save Checking account."
*(By the way, not to give up too much, but there are BIG changes coming in the next week or so, people. BIG.)

Futuristic Customer: "Before we do that, let me get this straight: I spend $4.33, and you will take .25 from my checking and move it over to my savings?"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "Indeed."

Futuristic Customer: "So my account will be charged $4.58, and .25 of my money will be put into my savings."

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "Correct."

Futuristic Customer: "That sounds confusing. Don't other companies usually just round up to the nearest dollar?"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "Affirmative."

Futuristic Customer: "But you don't do that, it's just .25 every time?"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "Yes."

Futuristic Customer: "So what if that .25 will overdraw my account?"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "Then no transfers will happen that day."

Futuristic Customer: "None? They get done all at once? So even if I did 100 debit card purchases, if that 100th purchase would move .25 out of my account and cause an overdraft, then the first 99 transfers don't happen?"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "They do not."

Futuristic Customer: "Then what's the... agh, never mind. (shakes head) So, the bank will match my transfers, right?"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "Yes, 100%."

Futuristic Customer: "That's awe-"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "For the first four months."

Futuristic Customer: "Oh, well, that's-"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "If it's a new account. If you convert your existing account, it's 10%."

Futuristic Customer: "New account? But I already-"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "And only up to 10 Bill Pays."

Futuristic Customer: "Alright, I get it, I get it! Still, the fact that you will match my transfers, and help me save towards the future, that's fantastic. Sign me up for a new account! This will serve as a great compliment to my Incredible Incentive Checking."

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "Clients can only have one premium account type each."

Futuristic Customer: "So I have to open a new account, a new number to memorize, to get the maximum benefits, but my existing account then loses it's ability to generate it's own benefits?"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "You can convert an existing account."

Futuristic Customer: "But I lose 90% on my transfer matches for the first four months."

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "And you forfeit any incentive points already earned."

Futuristic Customer: "Forfeit- O.K., so converting the account is not going to happen. And if I open a new account, I have to cancel my Incentive Checking anyway."

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "Aye."*
*(In the future, we're prohibited from answering questions with the same answer more than once. Otherwise, it might appear impersonal.)

Futuristic Customer: "Is there any way I can keep my Incentives AND open a You Save account?"

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "You can have your wife open up the You Save account with her as the primary account holder."

Futuristic Customer: "I'm not married."

Relationship Banker of Tomorrow: "How soon can you remedy that?"

Futuristic Customer: (shakes head) "Is there a Bank of Amexicanada* around here?"
*(BIG changes.)


So you see, citizens of August 11th, 2009, the future is a fantastic place, full of mystery and wonder! Be ever vigilant, and keep your eyes to the skies!

This message brought to you by Fiscal United Bank, N.A., a division of Pepsi-Cola.*
*(BIIIIIG changes.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sale-ing... (Takes Me Away To Where I've Always Heard It Could)

Pardon the Chris Cross paraphrase (as opposed to Kris Kross (their music makes me wanna... Jump, Jump (off a building))) but sales are on my mind lately. We're closing in on the finish or our sales incentive drive. We need four more accounts to reach our goal, at which point we will receive $500 cold, hard cash. NICE.

I like money. That's not the reason I work for a bank (that story will be coming soon to a theatre near you: "Escape from Retail Shoe Sales!"). I just really like having money, it makes it much easier to get stuff.

I'm starting to get used to this GAIN stuff they're going to teach us. The hardest part is small talk. I can't just instantly pick a topic (they've told us to stop using the "how about this weather?" crutch) and run with it. My instinct is to just get to the point and ask "how can I help you today?" And I'm not getting much chance to practice small talk, because most fo the clients I've helped this week have led with "I need to open a checking account." When they jump right in, wouldn't it be best to go with it rather than try to divert them back to small talk?

So it's raining again, and I'm starting to think this entire summer will be a waste. We haven't had consistently nice weather yet this summer. What's with all the rain? I remember there being entire summers where it was nice and pleasant. Now, I can't remember three days in a row without some sort of inclement weather. And I'm getting a little bitter about it. It's part of the reason my former girlfriend is leaving the state (I feel funny calling her an ex when we're still friends).

After realizing I may have set a record for use of parenthesis in a single blog post (I mean, seriously) I think it's time to do some work. Hoping to get four more accounts today, as much as that will be a LOT of work, so we can stop worrying and start planning on how to spend our $500 (my money is going towards new tires for the Jeep).

Have a great day, fellow Fiscal Uniters!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nerd Humor

My favorite nerd joke: There are 10 types of people in the world... the ones who understand binary, and the ones who don't.

Co-worker submissions:

Why do programmers always mix up Halloween and Christmas? Because Oct 31 equals Dec 25. (I think hexadecimal comes into play here, or something.)

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate!

What do you do with a dead chemist? Barium

What's the difference between Chemistry and cooking? In Chemistry, you should never lick the spoon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Here We Go A-G.A.I.N.

So yesterday I went to the big top secret G.A.I.N. (Greet, Assess, Inform, Next Steps) training. I say top secret because every time I asked someone higher up about the training, they would only tell me "I can't tell you anything about it" (as if it was KFC's secret recipe or something).

Well, I'M gonna tell you about it.

Our trainers were nice, if a bit too over-energetic. Basically, the training enforces behaviors many of us are currently engaged in, like shaking hands, greeting the client with our name and getting theirs, assessing client needs and explaining products. But it shifts the focus onto the client and their needs, and will not be so product driven. We're being transitioned into almost sort of a financial counsellor role, rather than pushing the "hot product," which is a change I am excited about. I hate having a client come to me about savings and ending up trying to sell them Incentive Checking account because if I don't I might not make my incentives (more on that another day). Now, we're going to be encouraged to analyze our client's needs and recommend the right product, which technically, we have always done, but the focus is more on the client rather than the product.

There are some parts of the new methodology I am not thrilled about. We're being "strongly encouraged" (I won't say "forced") to continue to engage in lengthy small talk before recommending products to probe for information, walk the client to the door, and then continue our computer wrap up before helping the next client. I think a few of our more impatient clients will take issue with some of that, but part of the training is also for us to "retrain" our customers to expect that kind of personalized care every time. I understand all of this.

Seems like Fiscal United Bank is trying to make everything very formulaic in an effort to make things more personal. Hey, whatever's clever. I think that all the INTENTIONS behind the new processes are solid. Just seems like Fiscal United is taking out any wiggle room for personal style that we may have to our job.

Most of my clients love me. I have build great client relationships doing what I do, and it never involved forcing "small talk with a purpose," ignoring my computer for the first 70% of the customer interaction, or taking my time walking people to the door rather than helping the next client. I'll do what's necessary to toe the line, but I can't see how this forced approach is going to help my clients more than me being genuine with them.

But back to the training. It seemed to me like the biggest gaff came when they asked us what we were happy about and what we were concerned about with the new methodology. Most (if not all) of the people in our group expressed concerns about walking clients to the door, especially while other clients were waiting in the lobby. I was one of the more vocal detractors of this practice for a variety of reasons. It seemed to me that the trainers were trying to assuage my hesitancies (and those of my fellow classmates) in one sentence explanations, and then asking if I was OK after each sentence. After a few minutes of that not working, one of the senior trainers rather brusquely stated that we were spending an inordinate amount of time on the subject and wanted to know what the real issue was. I explained that I was willing to drop it and move on for the sake of expediency, but that I remained unconvinced of the necessity of such a step.

Don't get me wrong, if it wasn't for my back being a trainwreck, I'd be walking them out to the parking lot if it was what's required. As it is, I have a medical exception excusing me from any standing, so I'll need to work that much harder to make them feel at home without walking them to the door, but I am up to that challenge (I feel pretty successful at that as it is). But that doesn't mean I don't find the practice questionable. They asked if we had concerns, not if we were going to committ mutiny. I felt like I was being asked for my opinion, being told I was wrong, and then asked for my opinion again, and being made to feel like I was a bother when I gave the same opinion. I'm sure that's not what her intention was, but I felt like she was invalidating my opinion.

I think the training will lead us towards being a better bank as a whole, but so long as Fiscal United Bank is locking us rigidly into a scripted approach with no room for improvisation or personalization, it'll be a rough, jerky, awkward ride.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

At Work At The Bank At Work... At The Bank... At Work?

So today, my wonderful counterpart Sherry and I headed to one of our business client's places of business to try and drum up some business. We basically went to allow people to open an account without ever stepping into the branch. I was a little nervous, frankly.

Despite the fact that I was a public address announcer for the athletic teams at my beloved Alma Mater, Southampton College (formerly run by the soulless nest of succubi known as Long Island University, now run by the Sainted Angels of Stony Brook University), I have a bit of a problem with public speaking. There's a difference between yelling incoherent sports blurbs into a microphone in a cacophonous gymnasium (Three! Guy Incognito!!!) and addressing people in a personal setting. Even people who come into the bank, whom I know are seeking my help, give me a little bit of a quease.

When it's people who I am approaching unsolicited, I get very, very nervous. I am especially nervous over the phone. FACT: I have a small sticker on my monitor that reads: "Thank you for calling Fiscal United Bank, this is your Relationship Banker speaking, how can I help you" because sometimes, I get a bit flustered, and reading it helps the delivery a bit.

I have a bit of a nervous stutter. Don't get me wrong, I don't sound like the guy from Ally McBeal or the co-counsel from My Cousin Vinny (interesting how both my stutter examples are from legal shows/movies... hmmmm... ) but I trip over my tongue. A LOT. My manager won't send me on call nights, because the one time I was scheduled, I didn't sleep the night before, knowing I would have to call people and interrupt their dinners. I despise telemarketing, and that's exactly what I was being asked to do. When she saw me walk in that day, she sent a teller instead.

So I am having mixed emotions about this "Bank at Work" thing. I fully understand the whole concept, and the benefit of performing such a service. Doesn't mean that my stomach isn't doing backflips over it.

The punchline here is that we got there and no one came to us. We stood there for about 5 minutes, and the owner of the business said "sorry, we didn't have any takers."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It Figures...

I posted this on my work blog, The Average Joe of the Banking World:

The Bank is buying us lunch today... on the day that I am traveling to ANOTHER branch to help out. Nice kick in the pants.

The perfect end to a perfect week: Monday, I broke up with my girlfriend. Tuesday, hurt my back lifting water bottle. Wednesday, woke up with a migraine. Thursday, had every idiot in Blue Point at my desk, and still had the migraine. Today, back still hurting, migraine still raging, having not slept much over the past week, I am now going to another branch to help because they are understaffed, a situation I can relate to because we are PERPETUALLY understaffed, and I miss out on free lunch. At least the weekend...

Oh, that's right. I'm working tomorrow. JOY. :(

Does anyone know what the American-On-A-Budget version of walkabout is?

And my audience replied with...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Excitement Is Brewing

Our remodeling is only weeks away, I'm told. Very exciting stuff. We'll be getting a vestibule, doors will be moving, windows painted, carpeting redone, new counters for the tellers... Can't wait!

I'd LOVE to be part of the department that travels from branch to branch redesigning. But I think my themes and motifs wouldn't be well accepted. Abstract design doesn't seem to be something Fiscal United would be comfortable with. But can't you just see how awesome the branch would be with nine legged chairs and a melting clock that ran backwards?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Don't Know What You've Got Until You're Mugged In The Parking Lot For It...

So we had a client (no names, of course) who has mid six figures in his savings account. He just asked the teller who was helping him to write down his balance so he could decide if he should go to McDonalds or Wendy's for dinner. On his way out, he then complained to the Assistant Manager that he couldn't afford more than Wendy's with the amount of interest our bank was paying him.

Oh, to have such problems.

He should understand that we have employees here who can't really afford to even go to Wendy's for dinner. There are some families that can't even afford to eat dinner at all. I wish I didn't value my job as much as I do, I would have told this arrogant jerk that he could feed a family of four at Wendy's for two solid years with HALF of what he had squirreled away in his account. Everyone thinks that working in a bank automatically means your finances are well in the green.

RARELY the case when it comes to the Average Joes of ther banking world. The good news is that Fiscal United Bank has decided to raise all employees to the minimum of the average of surveyed bank employees in our region. The bad news is that no one will commit to a solid date as to when that will happen beyond telling us that it will be within two years, by which time the average salary for a bank employee will likely rise just as much as they are raising us, leaving us still short of what everyone else is making.

Is it Friday yet?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

OK, Enough Is Enough...

In their infinite wisdom, Fiscal United Bank has announced that now, one of our platform personnel will be required to stand by the door to greet people as they come into the branch. Meet and Greet, they call it.

Waste of Resources, I call it.

It's hard enough doing what we do, dealing with these customers who seem to appear in droves all at once. There are times when our lobby is dead empty for an hour or so. Then (more often) there are times when everyone is busy, and there are people waiting to be helped. Despite what the numbers say, this branch, like many others, is under-manned. NOW, we get to lose productivity by having one of us standing by the door doing nothing but directing traffic.

So I will now hold an imaginary press conference in which I will address the decision makers behind this move and explain why they are making a poor decision.


"But it helps customers," Empty Suit #1 will explain.

"So does allowing Overdraft Protection to kick in when a client is drawing against uncollected funds, rather than generating a $35 fee," I answer, pointing to the next "informed decision maker."

"It makes clients feel welcomed," Empty Suit #2 pipes up.

"I make the clients feel welcomed already by greeting them from my desk," I answer. "Not once have I ever had a client say they didn't feel welcomed after I ask them how they're doing, even though I wasn't clogging the lobby when I did it. Next statement."

"Studies show that banks with greeters don't get robbed as much," Empty Suit #3 exposits.

"Who told you that? You didn't even read that study yourself, let alone help come to that conclusion. Stop spouting things you have no understanding of, and that will affect other peoples jobs while you glide on unaffected. You know what else helps prevent robberies? Armed guards. Bandit Barriers at the teller windows. A larger staff. Seeing as how that's not the cheapest solution, I know it's not popular. Instead, you'll be paying someone to stand in the lobby when they can be doing actual work. If no one has anything intelligent to say, this press conference is over."


It's not like this will affect me anyway; I have chronic back problems that prevent me for standing for longer than more than 15 minutes at a time anyway. I'll need to burn a day going back to the doctor to get my note excusing me from this fool's errand, but it will be worth it.

Fiscal United Bank, STOP cherry picking doing what other banks are doing and explaining that we're trying to be like them. Do what matters. Make REAL attempts at safety and customer service, not just what's the easiest thing to replicate.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If You Can't Amaze The With Answers...

...baffle them with Bullshit.

That's one of my favorite sayings. I like to tell stories, and I will prank people all the time with false knowledge (followed up quickly with a laugh and the REAL information).

One of my favorite misdirections is when a co-worker requests a phone number, I will make sure they are ready to write it down, and give them 867-5309, which, for those living in a cave or born in the 90s or later, is the title of a Tommy Tutone one-hit wonder 867-5309 (Jenny). I even clue them in by drawing out the nine as Ni-ee-ine. Some get it right away, some actually pick up the phone, btu I always clue them in right away.

Today, one of the tellers asked an interesting question: "what does IOU stand for?"

I have gone my entire adult life without wondering if it really does just stand for I Owe You, or if it was an actual acronym. But after revealing that indeed, I had no idea if it meant anything or not, I went ahead and made up the following explanation:

Back in the Civil War, the Union Army was facing a shortage of supplies. They would go to local farms and requisition feed, food, tools, and weapons for use by the army. Rather than just having soldiers walking in an taking the items without explanation, the Union drafted up notices called "Instrument Of Union" notices, explaining that the requisitioned items were necessary for the operation of the Union Army. When the war was over, the Union went about compensating the farmers, giving them money for the Instrument Of Union letters. Thus, the practice of giving someone an IOU as a promise of later compensation began.

The teller said that had I not already admitted I knew nothing about its origins, she would have bought that story hook, line and sinker. Too bad no one ever asks what an IOU stands for!

(P.S.: It stands for I Owe Unto. I like my story better!)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Jane Sykes, Chapter Five: In Which We Learn That Some People Trust Their Bankers More Than Their Lawyers

Bankers serve many roles. We are bankers, first and foremost. But we are also accountants (when clients can’t manage to keep their checkbooks straight), telephone directories (for people looking to find out everything else in a two mile radius) counselors (because who else will listen to their story about how their own siblings scheistered them out of their portion of Dad’s estate) and therapists (sometimes people just feel the need to let their grief and angst out).

One thing we are not, nor do we pretend to be, are lawyers. Clients will come to us asking advice on what they should do concerning their taxes, their inheritances, their wills, their divorces. I am not a lawyer (and I certainly don’t get paid like one). The reason they charge so much is that they paid a kidney to get all that knowledge you’re seeking for free.

So of course, Jane Sykes had this to say:

RB: “Thank you for calling Fiscal United Bank, this is your Relationship Banker speaking, how can I help you?”

JS: “This is Mrs. Jane Sykes. I have been with your bank for fifty years (it varies from call to call). I always work with you when I have a problem.”

RB: “Yes, of course. How can I assist you today?”

JS: “My lawyer is a son of a bitch.”

RB: (Stunned silence) “What-”

JS: “I want you to call him up and fire him!”

RB: “Jane, I’m sorry, but I cannot do that. I can’t fire your lawyer. You’ll need to call him yourself and do that.”

Some people think we are able to (or are even interested in) becoming tangled in the legal web. I object, your honor.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zero Problem Incentive Checking?

Zero Problem my ass.

My non-employee checking account was switched on August 12 from Fiscal United Absolutely Free Checking to the Fiscal United Incentive product. Since then, I have attempted to register the account on the Incentive Checking site and have met with no success. I am informed by the website that the account number I have provided is not a valid Fiscal United Checking Account. Several of my associates in the branch have gone to the same site and registered their accounts with no issues.

On August 25, I called our help line and was directed by an associate who's name I did not catch to Sal at the Online Banking Help Line. Sal then directed me to Sondra at the employee help line who then connected me to Kristen at the F.U.B. Redemption Center. Kristen connected me to the Enrollment Department, where I spoke to a woman named Maneesh (spelling likely butchered, sorry). She then contacted the Incentive Department, where I spoke to Jeff. Jeff looked into the account at great length, and after several minutes, suggested I email Deposit Operations to resolve the issue. I did. Today, I got a call from Karen McCall, who told me her department had nothing to do with that. Each of the people I spoke to was incredibly polite and eager to help, which says a lot for our telephone help system, and each of them saw no reason why my account was not able to be registered (i.e. the account is valid).

So why the HECK am I still not able to enroll? I have a REALLY hard time encouraging my clients to sign up for it if I can't even successfully use it myself.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wait Just A Damn Minute (Or Twenty)

So, as I'm sure everyone knows by now, we are not allowed any overtime. If we're slated to have overtime, we're supposed to leave early later in the week (with the glaring logical flaw that if everyone stays late one night, we'd have to close the bank early to make up for it, or if someone stays late on the last day of their work week, there is NO way to get around it).

Let's rewind two weeks:

My girlfriend Jillian flew in from a business trip to California, and due to a series of weather related mishaps, she ended up coming in very early Thursday morning rather than Wednesday night. As a result, I was an hour late getting into work that day. I was also slated to work Saturday that week, and because we are opened for limited hours on Saturday, that put me at 38 hours for the week, which, from what I understood, was the minimum we had to work to still meet our quota to get paid our full check.

Now, everyone on platform leaves early now and again. Ten minutes here, twenty minutes there. The time is made up somewhere, by coming in early or staying late on another day. I call this the ebb and flow. I generally don't keep track of when I stay ten or fifteen minutes late, nor do I keep track of when I come in ten or fifteen minutes early. Because I know that if I need to come in a few minutes late, or if I leave a few minutes early, it's generally not a problem. My manager is great like that.

My assistant manager... not so much.

So that Saturday, my sister invited Jillian and I to the movies. As the timing was less than optimal to avoid a speeding ticket, I asked my assistant manager if I could leave early that day. I stayed until after the bank closed, and helped get the tellers on their way to closing, but once there was nothing for me to do but watch, I asked my assistant manager if I could bail. It was 3:10. She said yes, and I left.

When I came in Monday morning, my time card (which had originally reflected the 38 hours) was altered by my assistant manager to reflect that I left at 3:10, giving me 37:40 for the week. It was NOT further altered to reflect the fact that I stayed late that Friday, or came back from my lunch break a few minutes early on Thursday; only my early departure was recorded. If that's how she wants to play the game, that's fine.

After confirming with my manager that A.) I was not in trouble for recording less than 38 hours on my time card, and B.) that I would still be getting my full week's pay, I considered the issue dropped. But I informed her that from now on, I will be more dilligent in recording EXACTLY when I arrive and depart, lunch breaks, etc.

So now last week, after recording exact arrival and departure times, I ended Thursday with 32:10.

Friday, I was set to leave 10 minutes early, leaving me at exactly 40 hours, but the head of security came in at quarter to 5, and kept me there until 5:10. So my card read 40:20.

My assistant manager made me change the card to read 40:00. No overtime, no exceptions. So it's necessary to record EXACT times until we reach 40 hours, and then it's okay to round it down?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overtime? We Don't Need No Stinking Overtime!

One of the recent sticking points in our daily operations as of late has been the lack of any overtime. We are not permitted, for any reason, to have any overtime. If we have to stay 15 minutes later one day, we leave 15 minutes earlier the next (our head teller just walked out at 4 because she had to close for a sick teller yesterday). It is being kept on such a tight leash that we got in trouble for a teller from another branch working ONE hour of overtime while helping us out.

In other words, no overtime.

Except that they were ready to pay our delivery people overtime on Friday just to wait around for a shipment and then deliver bottles of hand sanitizer. Our maintenence man Barney just told us he was on his way out to Southold just to deliver a single bottle.


One bottle? Can't they just inter office this stuff to us? We can't get help when we have someone out sick and we have lines out the door, but they'll pay someone overtime to deliver soap?

I'd really like to sit in on one of the executive board meetings, just to see what the people making these decisions are thinking. What gives?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not So Good Friday

I think it is shameful that Fiscal United Bank has made the "business decision" to stay open for a full day on Good Friday. The decisions to stay open on President's Day and Columbus Day are questionable enough, seeing as how the Fed is closed and we're just being paid to act as a well-manned night drop on those days. But now they're messing with religion.

Not that I am a deeply devout follower. I am as lapsed as my gym membership. But there are many working in the branches who ARE devout, who are pretty much being told that their beliefs aren't as important as the ability for Fiscal United Bank to collect three more hours of deposits (MOST of which won't even be credited to the client accounts until Monday ANYWAY because they are after three o'clock).

I offer a shameful wag of my finger at Fiscal United Bank.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just Give Me Five Minutes Alone In The Tool Shed With The People From Marketing...

So we're being flooded with paperwork about the new Extreme Interest Savings Product that we Fiscal United Bank personnel are pushing starting tomorrow, as well as the Double Incentive Checking promotion beginning in June. Among the multiple type sizes, the text shoving and pixilated graphics, the spelling mistakes (spell check can't do everything, people), a few choice novelties struck me eye like a misfired rubber band at the security camera in the middle of the lobby.

One of the pages lists all of the materials we will be receiving to promote our Double Incentive Promotion to begin in May. Tower Motorized Circle, to augment the horrific eye sore- er, I mean the eye catching promotional monolith? Check. Brochures? Check. Window clings? Check. Then, on the last column, two pictures of Customizable Flyers with a giant DOUBLE INCENTIVE centered on the top. Just below the name, it states "Will not be shipped."

Well, thanks, Marketing. Why are they wasting space telling us what they will not be shipping us? What's next, a picture of Minnesota Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura informing us that he will not be visiting our branches? A picture of Fiscal United Bank toasters that we won't be giving away if they open an account? How about a picture of the overtime we're no longer allowed to work?

This I found highly amusing. But what followed was disturbing, to the point that I wonder what secluded jungle that the chimps running our marketing department were recruited from.

Our branches are being described as having a "devastatingly local" feel. Does anyone else now feel like they're working in the epicenter of an earthquake? Devastatingly Local? Really? THAT'S what we're going with? REALLY?

Tip to marketing: Devastating is not a positive word. The only time I have used that word as a positive is when I told my ex-girlfriend she was devastatingly beautiful, implying that when I look at her, she is so beautiful it just wrecks me. But the fact that we have a local feel is NOT something that leaves our customers weak in the knees. It should inspire confidence, not make them feel like they are unearthing themselves after a tsunami just hit.

But Fiscal United Bank is rapidly climbing the ladder to become one of the leaders in Bizenglish speak. Seeing as how I am embracing the concept of being a team player, I'm going to help marketing out with a few more marketing terms they can use.

Fiscal United Bank: Abominably Local!

Fiscal United Bank: Horrifyingly Local!

Fiscal United Bank: Maliciously Local!

Fiscal United Bank: Right Up In Your Space, In Fact, Violently So!

Fiscal United Bank: So Local You'll File For A Restraining Order!

Fiscal United Bank: We're Pretty Much Hiding In Your Closet Watching You Sleep, And Occasionally We'll Tip Toe Out And Touch Your Hair, Just To Remind Us That You're Not Imaginary And Because We Like The Way It Feels, Because The New Conditioner You Use Makes It Feel So Silky And Smells Really Nice!

None of those are any more contrarian than Devastatingly Local. And don't worry, these are for free, because I know that putting in for overtime is now considered a criminal offense.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Did You Ever Have One Of Those Days?

The type of day where nothing goes right? Nothing catastrophic happens, but everytime there is a variable, it comes up negative? Where every yes or no question is answered with a no, everything takes way too long, the odds all stack up against you, and nothing is good enough the first time?

That was yesterday for me. Not one single win all day long. And today started with me misreading the schedule and showing up for work 90 minutes late. So I'm taking a shorter lunch for the chance to still leave at 5.

Auspicious start to the week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Clients Say The Craziest Things

I recently spent a week behind the teller line, as one of our tellers went on vacation and Fiscal United Bank's outright refusal to allow anyone to get any sort of overtime anymore has left us perpetually scrambling to fill out the hours without leaving the bank unmanned. (That teller has had his ankles broken since then to prevent any further leaving of the bank.)

It reminded me why I was so quick to accept a promotion out of the teller position without even fully understanding what a Client Service Representative does (they could have made me clean the roof, I wouldn't have known better; it was simply better than being a teller). Even though I deal with a lot of frustrating questions sitting behind my desk, the frustration of dealing with clients at the teller line makes me crazy.

Chief among my pet peeves is the stigma that the fifty dollar bill suffers from. Clients will often say "don't give me fifties, I always think they are twenties." I learned a trick a while ago that can help differentiate between fifties and twenties; there's numbers all over the front and back of the freakin' bill. Seriously, people, this is Darwinism at work. If you're too stupid to tell the difference between a fifty and a twenty, you can't read at a kindergarten level, and you deserve to be penniless.

There is a certain sort of malaise that sets in after three days of sitting behind the line. You start to forget how to do things that you do every day behind the desk. Eventually, you grow comfortable referring people to the desk for help that you know you yourself would normally be able to do.

I am grateful to be back behind my desk (and so is my back; those chairs do NOTHING to help my chronic back injuries). Now I just have to remember what an IRA is...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jane Sykes, Chapter Four: In Which We Learn Why Doctor McCoy Was Always So Grumpy

Jane now asks for me whenever she calls, and will only deal with me. She will hang up if anyone else attempts to assist her. I tend to be that person in the bank for all of our elderly and less than 100% mentally sound clients. I listen. I would make a great bartender if it weren’t for the fact that I can’t stand for more than ten minutes without a vicodin and I have the memory of a gold fish with anterograde amnesia. I have the ability to tune out the droning to a certain extent and let the client prattle on, injecting a timely “uh huh,” or “really,” when appropriate. Whereas other bankers tend to retreat fairly quickly, I have the stamina to let them vent for several minutes before I allow myself to be “rescued.”

So I get the freaky calls. I get the endless dissertations on the evils government from the paranoid nutbags. I get the wistful tales of better days from the old fellas who know everyone in town and have for half a century. I get the ignorant and often racist tales from the elderly folk who remember when there were separate water fountains and dammit, they liked it. And I get Jane Sykes.

Like the time she called me early one brisk spring morning to address a problem she was having with a different kind of liquidity.

RB: “Thank you for calling Fiscal United Bank, this is your Relationship Banker speaking, how can I help you?”

JS: “Dear, this is Jane Sykes. I have been a member of your bank for over thirty years. I have a problem, and you are the one I always deal with.”

RB: “Yes, of course. How can I assist you today?”

JS: “The pipes in my house are leaking all over the place!”

RB: (Stunned silence) “Oh… I’m sorry to hear that. so how can I help you?”

JS: “I need you to come over and find out what the problem is!”

RB: (More stunned silence) “Jane, I’m sorry, but I’m not a plumber.”

JS: “You can’t come over to help me?”

RB: “No, I’m sorry, but that’s not a service I offer. I’m a banker. I could try to get the number of a plumber for you, if you’d like.”

JS: “No, thank you. I’ll try someone else. Good bye.”

Dammit, Jim, I’m a banker, not a plumber!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fun Things To Do During The "Lunch And Learn" A.K.A. Satan's Break Time

I'd like to meet the executive who thought up the lunch and learn, so I could shake his or her hand; shake it, along with the rest of their body, until they are reduced to a loose pinkish-purple jelly in a suit.

It's unfortunate enough that we are already forced to work a nine hour day. It doesn't matter that we get an hour for lunch (although in some cases, we don't even get that). No other job I've worked at required nine hours of my day devoted to it every single day. I've worked at jobs where we worked an eight hour day, and got a half hour removed automatically for our lunch, and I've even worked at jobs where ::GASP:: they paid you for your lunch hour.

Because it's not really an hour for lunch; you need to clear off your desk, lock up your drawers, lock your computer, go out and get to wherever you're going for lunch, wait for them to prepare it, travel to wherever you go to eat your lunch, eat your actual lunch, throw away the garbage, drive back to the branch, wash your hands, unlock your drawers, unlock your computer, etc... you actually only get about 20 solid minutes to sit and really enjoy your meal.

Then someone had a brilliant thought: we bring in a consultant/instructor/motivational-speaker/mouthbreathing-empty-suit to yammer at them, telling them things we should have taught them at training, and give them cold pizza. That way, we can tell them that they are eating lunch, and therefore, not pay them to do something that is a job requirement! So not only are they taking away my right to escape from the pressure of being at work for nine hours, they are taking away my right to choose what I want for lunch and my ability to enjoy eating it. This is why I am sure to not learn anything when I am subjected to a lunch and learn (a.k.a. forced servitude). Go ahead, throw pie charts at my head, bury me in job aids, and drone on endlessly about the "Seven Things Not to Say to a Client Who is Looking to Spill My Blood Over the Current Financial Climate." I'll be the one in the corner drawing a picture of you being drawn and quartered on my yellow legal note pad.

Other fun ways to pass the time on a "Lunch and Learn":

Stare at the speaker and every five seconds, nod once quickly and say "Yuh-huh..."

Make as many anagrams as possible from the speaker's name. Use their title if you get stumped.

Ask the speaker their full name and title before they start, and start and end every subsequent question, comment and answer with it. ("John Farkus, Assistant Director of Product Placement Services, you raise an interesting point, John Farkus, Assistant Director of Product Placement Services.")

Hum as inaudibly as possible while still actually generating sound. When you run out of breath, inhale sharply and quickly, and preferrably only when the speaker looks away. (Works great in teams; when one person speaks, the other should pick up the hum.)

Excuse yourself to use the toilet every six minutes.

Take a sip of water and let it spill over your lip when you lower the cup. Pretend not to notice.

Be really into your lunch. Chew emphatically, roll your eyes in bliss, and moan loudly. Ask repeatedly "is this homemade?"

Settle down for nappy time, resting your weary head comfortably on your arms.

Translate the speech for your fellow listeners in made up sign language. Or Esperanto. Or Klingon.

Whenever the speaker pauses, say "And then what happened?" in wide eyed fascination.

Giggle. Frantically.

If all else fails, a fake faint will usually get the situation resolved, but watch out for thngs you might hit your head on on the way down.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

An Amusing Call

BLUE POINT - 9:39 A.M.

Relationship Banker: "Thank you for calling Fiscal United Bank, this is your Relationship Banker speaking, how can I help you?"

Customer: "Yes, this is Mr. Customer, I have an account with you for years."

RB: "Good morning, Mr. Customer, how can I help you?"

MC: "I received a piece of mail yesterday from you that is addressed to Valued Customer. What is this all about?"

RB: (Befuddled Silence) "Um, I'm sorry, but without looking at the piece of paper itself, I can't possibly tell you what it is about."

MC: "Well, I can't make it in there to the branch. Here's what it says. It has New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and then a bunch of numbers."

RB: "Ah, it sounds like you've received an updated list of what routing numbers are considered a local check."

MC: "Ok. (long silence) So what do I do now?"

RB: "Well, I would recommend you read it first."

MC: "Ok. (more silence) And then what?"

RB: "Well, then you can throw it out."

MC: "That's just what I wanted to hear, thank you!"

RB: "You're welcome. Have a great day!"

MC: "Bye!"

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