Author’s Note: We now join the first psychiatric session of Wally Thornburger, a branch manager at the Wrongway National Bank. Wally was recently promoted to branch manager after his boss went on an unplanned “sabbatical.” Taking advantage of a new workplace benefit at Wrongway Bank, Wally is hopeful about the first meeting with his psychiatrist, “Sig”.
(in classic heavy Austrian accent)
Good afternoon young man. Tell me what’s on your mind today.
Well, Dr. Sig, I’ve just been feeling really overwhelmed lately. I mean, I was real excited to get promoted to branch manager, but now I’m starting to question why I got into banking in the first place.
That’s all right, Wally. Questioning your decisions may be a sign that you are not too far gone. Why do you have doubts about banking?
I just don’t think I could ever do everything that’s expected of me at Wrongway Bank. We have this new strategic vision from our management team that says I need to be the Premier Financial Advisor for all my clients’ needs. I’m not sure what that even means.
I note serious feelings of inadequacy in you, Wally. Tell me, did you father ever hug you?
Huh? Gosh, I don’t remember Dr. Sig, but I don’t think that’s what’s bothering me. You see we’ve got this whole “sales culture” initiative going on at Wrongway right now. When customers come into the branch, I’m supposed to profile them with this long questionnaire so I can understand their “complete financial situation.” It’s really awkward and it’s pissing off my customers. They just want to get in and out of the branch without any hassles.
I don’t think so. You see, Dr. Sig, I’m supposed to make at least five cold calls a day to try to cross-sell customers more products. We had this famous sales trainer named Zippy Roth who came to our sales rally and told us how easy this all was. He wrote a book called “Only Losers Can’t Make Their Sales Goals”, and I’m falling short right now. It’s just weird when I call customers and try to talk to them about our “Can’t Lose” Money Market account – they use profanity and say I’m just another telemarketer. Then, I’m supposed to log all these calls onto our Intimidator sales tracking system. I have to re-key in all this information about customers that we already have on our system. The head of our Marketing department says logging these calls is easy, but it’s just such a waste, it frustrates me.
I think that would be tough at Wrongway Bank. There’s so much to teach the branch staff that it really frustrates the people I hire. For example, each of us has six different log-ins and passwords to use the computer systems we have at the bank. The folks in I.T. say it’s pretty easy to remember these passwords and change them all every 90 days. My tellers are always getting written up for BSA exceptions and most don’t care because they’re too busy text messaging their friends. The head of Compliance says it should be easy for me to pass any regulatory exam with flying colors, but every time I turn around, there’s a new compliance form or checklist or audit log that’s been handed down from on high and there’s no automation to help me get it done. I just can’t believe in 2008 that these are the best processes we can come up with for our branches.
So this feeling of helplessness is what brought you here today? You feel unloved.
You bet I do! But that’s just the beginning. You see, next week I’ve got this test to pass to get my Series 6 and 7 licenses so I can sell mutual funds and annuities to our depositors. I’m behind on the checking campaign right now and soon I’m going to have this investment goal I have to meet. The head of our Wealth Management group said it should be easy for me to book a new investment client each week just from the “low hanging fruit” that comes through my branch. I have no idea what that even means.
But he’s not the only one who bugs me. There’s this obnoxious woman, Shelly, who runs our Mortgage group. She just put this Web-based system called MortgagePop on my computer and said I need to take at least two new mortgage applications from customers each month. I’m supposed to go to mortgage product training next week so I can figure out how to take mortgage applications, but I’m down two tellers and don’t know if I can break away. Anyway, when I expressed my concerns to Shelly, she said I was resistant to change and that it should be easy for me to hit 200% of my mortgage goal every month.So this Investment person and this Shelly are causing you great anxiety, Wally? I’m wondering if Shelly might be bringing back certain memories you have regarding your mother. I’m going to give you 500 mg of Paxil daily to ease some of this stress. Is there any other authoritative figure who provokes these negative feelings? Where do I start? There’s Lou in Business Banking. He’s got this whole small business initiative going, and he sent out a memo last week that I’m supposed to call on at least 10 new small businesses a month within a two-mile radius of my branch. I’ve been given a business loan referral goal that the overweight Lou says should be easy for me to hit. Let me be honest, Dr. Sig – I don’t even know what most of the stuff Lou’s talking about even means. Account analysis … term loan … sweeps … ACH? I feel like I’m going door-to-door trying to sell my Little League tickets all over again. It really sucks. And in two weeks we’ve got this whole Remote Deposit Capture campaign I’m supposed to be leading in my area. Dr. Sig, what’s Remote Deposit Capture?
I mean, we have this intranet system that’s supposed to have the branch policies and procedures, but it’s an unorganized mess and none of the policies are up-to-date anyway. The real procedures are in this damn notebook I maintain with all the emails that have been pelted at me with the words “Effective immediately.”Now Wally. Let’s focus, dear boy. Here, breathe slowly into this paper bag. Imagine a calm blue ocean on a carefree sunny day. The seagulls are chirping and the sun is shining.
Now remember, Wally, all of us have responsibilities. I have the responsibility to see you each week for the next few years at the rate of $225 per hour. You have a lot of duties as well, but remember – you are the manager of this branch and paid accordingly.Paid accordingly? Dr. Sig, I recently realized I made more money when I was waiting tables at the country club during summer vacations in college. I make $38,000 and I work over 55 hours a week. I take stuff home every night that I’m supposed to know or remember. Last year, when I knocked my sales goals out of the park, I got a lousy $1,200 bonus and a tie-dyed T-Shirt that said, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” When I joined banking, I dreamed of being a professional. Now I wear khakis and golf shirts all the time. I try to un-jam the coin counting machine, make up new cheers and blow up balloons. I go to these officer meetings and get talked to like I’m an idiot. You know, everyone over in the corporate tower keeps saying I’m “resistant to change,” but they change something about my job every day. I wish I could have them come down here and work in the branch just for one day… Just one day Dr. Sig… then I’d show them who’s resistant to change… they can’t do this to me, Dr. Sig, they can’t. Shelly, Zippy, Lou – I hate them all. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Lay down on this table, Wally, I’m going to apply a small electronic shock with these wires… I think it may help you.
There are a lot of us today in the banking industry dreaming up new things for our branch staff to be doing. Individually, all of them seem to be pretty simple and easy. But when combined, how many of us really think that the branch manager’s job is cushy given the “immense” financial rewards we put in these folks’ wallets?
Author’s Final Word:
You feel me dog?