As the crimson rays of the morning sun gently lift the veil of mist across the park, Raghuvir Sinha steps up his pace to catch up with his long-time walking mate, Jayendra Mhatre. Retirement had eased their hectic lives after a long and eventful banking career. The habitual morning walk was among the highlights of their now sedate lifestyle. With children settled in good jobs in banks, time was at a discount for trivial tasks each day.
“Sorry, I’m late,” said Sinha, as he fell into step beside Mhatre. “Last night, Swati returned from work at 10 pm! Day-end run didn’t tally, it seems. I was so worried.”
Mhatre nodded sympathetically. “Nowadays, banking jobs is not like what we went through, Raghuvir. We got away with a lot of allowances. These days, systems and processes are very stringent.”
“But I like the enthusiasm of the new generation of bankers,” mused Sinha. “This whole computerisation has crunched turnaround times. Performance benchmarks are high. A Probationary Officer like Swati has a vast range of responsibilities, something which we couldn’t imagine during our days. If you perform well, you can really climb the professional ladder quickly!”
“Why? What are they expecting from a PO?” asked Mhatre, curious.
“Buddy, nowadays a PO in a bank is an all-rounder. If you set aside the initial period, where they train you to work in all sections of the bank, an officer is effectively a manager-cum-clerk! From customer transactions like authorising inward cheques, scrolling, posting, draft issuance, cash management to broader functions like public relations, customer complaints, handling account issues, supervising the clerks, handling loan related documentation, visiting sites to customer offices/factories, issuing ATM cards, cheque books — oh, I could go on and on!-A PO, now designated as an Assistant Manager, is expected to do quite a lot! Those who show keen interest and enthusiasm in their work are assigned more important responsibilities like budgeting, marketing and treasury management.”
“Wow, that is exciting!” said Mhatre, a former general manager himself. “In my days, I had to struggle so much to climb the ladder!”
“Yeah, me too,” Sinha replied. “But these days a banking career is very lucrative. Hard work is rewarded. Besides, you get to meet so many people across the country, wherever you’re transferred. Every town or city has a beauty of its own! Don’t you agree?”
“I heard that there is a superannuation benefit too!” exclaimed Mhatre. “Just imagine, pension till you are alive! Which other profession gives such a wonderful perk?”
“I’m glad we opted for the right career. And Swati is well on her way to become an AGM soon!” said Sinha proudly.
Mhatre nodded his agreement. “Yes, your daughter is extremely competent. I must suggest this career to my niece too. This is the right time for her to launch her banking career.”
“Then why don’t you tell her about State Bank of India’s notification for Probationary Officers?” said Sinha. “That’s just been released. The forms will be available till 6th March, 2017 and the last date for submission of the form is 6th March itself.”
“And what about the exam? When’s that?”
“Well, the Preliminary Exams are scheduled to be held on 29th & 30th April, 2017 and the Main Exam is on 4th June, 2017.”
“That’s excellent then,” quipped Mhatre. “By the way, what qualifications do you need these days to appear for the exam?”
“The admission criteria hasn’t changed much since our days,” replied Sinha. “You have to be a graduate in any discipline from a recognised University, that’s what they need. Even students who are studying in their final year or their last semester of their graduation can apply on a provisional basis, on the condition that they can produce proof eventually of having passed the graduation exam.”
The two of them walked slowly towards their local tea stall, where they would spend some time sipping their usual cup of evening tea. A question occurred to Mhatre.
“What is SBI’s test format?” he asked, wondering whether the entrance tests had changed since he had first attempted them, long ago.
“The usual,” replied Sinha. “The Preliminary Examination consists of Objective Tests for 100 marks, and it will be conducted online. The duration of the test is one hour, and the test consists of three sections, English Language, Quantitative Aptitude and Reasoning Ability.”
Mhatre was listening intently. “Alright. And what about the Mains?”
“The Main Examination comprises an Objective Test for 200 marks and a Descriptive Test for 50 marks,” replied Sinha. “Both these tests are online. The Objective Test is of 3 hours’ duration, with four sections, and there’s separate timing for every section. Candidates have to qualify in each of the tests by securing passing marks, which will be decided by SBI. Questions on Reasoning & Computer Aptitude, Data Analysis & Interpretation, General Knowledge, Economics, Banking Awareness and English Language are usually asked. The Descriptive Test paper, of 30 minutes duration, will be on 50 marks. There is a test of English Language, which will involve Letter Writing and Essay.”
“My goodness!” exclaimed Mhatre. “Times have certainly changed. I guess the competition has become so much tougher that students need professional coaching to ensure they are successful!”
“Obviously,” replied Sinha. “Swati was thoroughly coached by IMS. Their experienced faculty ensured that she was properly mentored and trained to crack the tests. In fact, did you know, IMS had conducted a National Scholarship Test across the country on 12th February, 2017? Selected candidates had won free coaching for all bank entrance exams! They also stood a chance to win prizes worth lakhs and 100% discount on fees!”
Mhatre was gaping at Sinha. “100%?”
“Free, Mhatre, free!” exclaimed Sinha. “Can you beat that?”
“I am going to tell my niece as soon as I get hoe to visit the local IMS center and make an auspicious start to a successful banking career,” said Mhatre.
“Before that, let’s raise a toast to the banking profession with our favourite garam chai,” laughed Sinha, slowing down at the roadside tea stall.