What year did you join the industry?
It was a sunny morning in September 1975. A seminal moment; my banking career had begun at NatWest Tolworth branch in Surrey where I was soon ‘encouraged’ – read instructed – to start studying for the banking exams.
Daily duties as branch junior bore little relation to banking, consisting in the main of 1) making tea & coffee for all members of staff – excluding the Manager; his secretary maintained a separate supply of quality ingredients and china cups - three times per day, 2) sorting away all the paid cheques in that morning’s clearing for all the customers who had their cheques retuned with their statements – yes, really! – and 3) walking to the sub branch down the Broadway several times per day to collect the ‘work’. That also usually meant being handed a shopping list by the girls in the machine room who regarded this naïve, fresh out of school lad as their personal errand runner, but that’s another story.
How did you find the experience of study and working full-time?
Study was at Kingston College of Further Education, a (half) day release every Wednesday, with three classes in the afternoon plus one in the evening. This initially broke up the week quite nicely, enabling me to escape from the duties of ‘junior’ – they could make their own tea – also form a bond with my peer group of fellow young escapee bankers as we worked towards out exams.
As time progressed and promotions arrived, the half day absence began to be a challenge, with Thursday mornings being a combination of frantic catch-up coupled with glowering glances from those who had to cover in my absence. Situation solved by achieving my personal mantra at the time of ‘ACIB by 23, Grade 4 by 24.’
Any special memories or stories about taking your exams?
Banking Law was the final class of the day; how any of us ever garnered enough knowledge to pass the exam I will never know. After three brain draining classes in the afternoon including getting to grips with double entry bookkeeping, we would repair to the café, then to the nearby pub for several games of bar billiards accompanied by a large quantity of Young’s Special before returning to the college. You can guess the rest… Our tutor was a serving member of staff who gave his time voluntarily to teach us; I hang my head in shame at the memories.
Interestingly, a parallel education was also taking place with far reaching consequences. Having been similarly ‘encouraged’ to join the British Junior Chamber of Commerce, I was soon engulfed in training for – and competing in – national level public speaking competitions.
As a direct result, public speaking, presenting, compering and radio broadcasting became an integral part of both professional and personal life for the next four decades, a solid apprenticeship for life today as founder of Speaking in Public, a business that builds your confidence in public speaking, also keynote speaker, MC and author of Speak Performance and Speaking in Public.
Why do you think membership of a professional body is important?
Importance of the qualification grew as the years progressed. Taking (and passing) exams added a fillip whilst rising through the ranks; receiving the impressive looking ACIB certificate was a proud moment. In later years, as a Manager dealing with HNW clients, being a member of a professional body with ACIB qualifications on my business card added credence to the role. Now, whilst no longer directly in Financial Services, retaining my LIBF membership is both a link to clients in FS, and an ongoing learning platform; yes, I still read Financial World when it drops through the letterbox.