The Role of a Bank Teller STUDENT'S VERSION This lesson printed from: http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.php?lid=865&type=student INTRODUCTION When people discuss banking and finance, they often underestimate the specialized skills required to process the millions of banking transactions that occur every day. The vital role of the bank tellers who handle these day-to-day transactions is often overlooked. In this lesson, we will explore how bank tellers could make or break the banking process! TASK In this lesson, you will learn about bank tellers and the work they do. You will learn how different types of items are deposited, explain the decision-making steps a bank teller goes through when cashing a check, and identify problems in processing deposits. You will also learn about the additional specialized skills tellers need in order to deal with new threats of fraud and stricter laws. At the conclusion of this lesson, you will be able to relate the knowledge to your own life and perhaps even value your local bank teller! PROCESS Step One: Read the following basic information about bank tellers. In banking, a bank teller's function is key. Whenever a deposit is made at a bank, a teller has to determine if the item being deposited is cash (paper currency or coins) or non-cash (checks or money orders). Then the teller has to judge which cash and non-cash demands are legitimate, and when to pay out to the customer. If a bank teller makes the wrong decision, it could result in losses for the bank and maybe even for the teller! Click on the following link to learn more about the nature of a teller's work . Nature of the Work The bank teller is the person most people associate with a bank. Tellers make up 28 percent of bank employees, and conduct most of a bank’s routine transactions. Among their responsibilities are cashing checks, accepting deposits and loan payments, and processing withdrawals. They may also sell savings bonds, accept payment for customers’ utility bills and charge cards, process necessary paperwork for certificates of deposit, and sell travelers’ checks. Some tellers specialize in handling foreign currencies or commercial or business accounts. Being a teller requires a great deal of attention to detail. Before cashing a check, a teller must verify the date, bank name, identification of the person to receive payment, and legality of the document. They must also make sure that written and numerical amounts agree and that the account has sufficient funds to cover the check. The teller then must carefully count cash to avoid errors. Sometimes a customer withdraws money in the form of a cashier’s check, which the teller prepares and verifies. When accepting a deposit, tellers must check the accuracy of the deposit slip before processing the transaction. Prior to starting their shift, tellers receive and count an amount of working cash for their drawer. A supervisor, usually the head teller, verifies this amount. Tellers use this cash for payments during the day and are responsible for its safe and accurate handling. Before leaving, tellers count cash on hand, list the currency-received tickets on a balance sheet, make sure the accounts balance, and sort checks and deposit slips. Over the course of a workday, tellers may also process numerous mail transactions. Some tellers replenish cash drawers and corroborate deposits and payments to automated teller machines (ATMs). In most banks, head tellers are responsible for the teller line. In addition to the typical duties of a teller, a head teller’s responsibilities include preparing work schedules, accessing the vault, ensuring the correct cash balance in the vault, and overseeing shipments of cash to and from the Federal Reserve. Technology continues to play a large role in the job duties of all tellers. In most banks, for example, tellers use computer terminals to record deposits and withdrawals. These terminals often give tellers quick access to detailed information on customer accounts. Tellers can use this information to tailor services to fit a customer’s needs or to recommend an appropriate bank product or service. Because banks offer more and increasingly complex financial services, tellers in many banks are being trained to perform some functions of customer service representatives, in addition to their other duties. These tellers are required to learn about the various financial products and services the bank offers, so they can briefly explain them to customers and refer interested customers to appropriate specialized sales personnel. Amid fraud, role of bank teller changing Role of the bank teller changing with world issues By MEGHANN COTTER Date published: 3/19/2005 By MEGHANN COTTER As identity theft cases rise, employees are taking on additional responsibilities The bank teller who once completed check transactions and had to know only basic math has, for the most part, been replaced. While tellers still handle customer needs, they now have more responsibility in preventing identity theft and selling financial products. "As the world changes, so does the role of the bank teller," said Heather McElrath, spokesperson for the American Banker's Association. Post-9/11 legislation, such as the Patriot Act, requires banks to ask more questions, record a lot of information, know what to look for and detect suspicious activity. "The scope of what tellers need to know has increased tremendously, and they have so much more liability on them than they did before," said Maria Franklin, senior vice president for Union Bank and Trust. Tellers collect information more than anyone else because they have the most contact with customers, she said. The information collected helps banks be a first defender against the funding of terrorism, money laundering activities and identity theft. Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the nation, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Virginia had about 4,297 victims in 2003, up from 3,395 in 2002. The agency reports that bank fraud is the third most common type. That's encouraging many banks to tighten their rules. Most don't cash checks and money orders for noncustomers anymore. And many have added emphasis on getting to know customers and monitoring their banking habits. "[Tellers] have to be on their toes at all times," Franklin said. "The technology for copying items is so sophisticated, it is very difficult [to recognize fraudulent activity]." Some banks are even adding fingerprint scanners to verify a customer's identity. "We are constantly looking for ways to help the teller determine these kinds of things," Franklin said. The increased responsibility of tellers is leading some banks to eliminate the "teller" title. First Market Bank, founded in Richmond in 1997, has "financial service advisers" rather than tellers. They complete transactions and work with customers, as a teller would. But they are also trained to meet other customer needs. "Banks are becoming more retail-oriented than anything else," said Lynn Riggleman, branch manager for First Market's Twin Lakes branch in Fredericksburg. Banks started broadening their services after the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed in 1999. The act allows them to offer financial and insurance products, which they once could not. "Financial services have become a one-stop shop," McElrath said. Financial service advisers at First Market educate people about financial products and even complete loan applications. They receive the same instruction as managers do. But today's tellers have such responsibilities even when they don't directly sell the products. "They have to recognize clues and make customers aware that we offer these kinds of services," Franklin said. At her bank, for example, the teller might pass out mortgage loan information to a customer who mentions he is selling his house. Franklin said a lot of people don't know about the variety of products banks now sell. And more people buy those products because tellers get customers in the door. "We rely on the teller to be our eyes and ears," she said. "They have the largest contact with the customers." Respond to questions on separate paper: 1. What are some of the new responsibilities of bank tellers? 2. How is fraud becoming an even bigger concern to tellers and banks? 3. What are banks doing about fraud becoming an even bigger issue? 4. What are banks doing to combat this fraud? 5. Describe some of the skills needed to be a good teller. 6. After learning all the characteristics and responsibilities of a bank teller, would you consider a job as a bank teller? Why or why not?
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