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Hero?...or Bum!

In teaching classes in Bank Security to front line personnel over the past two weeks, an interesting phenomenon occurred. The text I was using, which is written by bankers, reads ..."when security needs and customer relations are in conflict, security always takes precedence." All the bankers in the classes agreed with this premise. "No problem."

But when we got down to specifics-"Do you feel that you can practice good customer relations, while at the same time sticking strictly to your bank's security policies and procedures?"-those same bankers replied, en masse, "No way!"

For instance, a new accounts representative was given the rules for opening accounts. ...two solid pieces of identification, a local address and telephone number, verify at least one piece of information on every account, don't split any checks to open accounts, etc. The manager walks over and says, "Open an account for this gentleman-he's OK." The man is staying at a local motel, has an out-of-state license, and no other ID, and splits his paycheck (at the manager's instructions) to open the account.

The new accounts rep knows the requirements, the policies, the rules-but is instructed to ignore them. If the account goes bad or is fraudulent, the rep can only hope the manager remembers the incident.

Or the Deadbeat Corporation account is overdrawn. It's Friday evening. Employees from the Deadbeat Company are coming in with their paychecks. A deposit was just made in another branch into the account but has not been posted. Do you cash the payroll checks anyway? Of course.

And on Monday morning if it is discovered that there are returned items to be charged back, creating a larger overdraft than before, will the manager who approved all those payroll checks be held accountable? Of course.

Or dual control on the night deposits is strictly required by Audit and Security. It's Monday morning, the 3rd of the month, two of the four tellers just called in sick, and there are 31 bags in the night drop. Do you handle the night deposits without dual control. Of course.

Does security always take precedence? Only in the text book. In the real world of banking, dealing with customer relations and security at the same time is a tightrope walking exercise in calculated risk. You're a hero if you guess right, and a bum if you guess wrong. There just is no middle of the road.

The best you can hope for is to be a hero most of the time!

Copyright © 1990 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 1, No. 9, 9/90

First published on 09/01/1990

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