You must have heard in your first year civil engineering class and countless times thereafter that opportunity for a civil engineer is limitless. Speaking of which, have you considered a career in banking and finance as a Civil Engineer? Yes, that’s right. If you think a civil engineer is somewhat misplaced in the banking sector, think again. The two have more in common than you think.
Banking sector is one of the fastest growing career path in India. It is also one of the few sectors that has rapidly adapted to new technologies and is now in the cusp of a major transformation. A banking career in India offers diversity in work profile, challenges, opportunity for growth, space for decision making and creating problem solving. Since it is a highly competitive and performance based environment, it’s no wonder that engineers have a natural affinity towards the sector.
How will civil engineering subjects help me in Banking?
Banking, by definition is the acceptance of deposits for the purpose of lending and investments. You may say that banks are in the business of creating business. Hence, loans and advances are essential to the growth of the banking industry. This is where civil engineers can really thrive and utilize their area of knowledge and expertise.
Estimation, Costing and Evaluation is a subject that has immense vale when sanctioning home purchase loans/land purchase loans/home construction loan/home improvement loan/home expansion loan. Civil engineers would be far more familiar with the jargon of building construction and local bylaws. Civil engineers are equipped with the concepts of depreciation, written down value (WDV), salvage value, floor space index etc. Not to mention, we have ample practice in the art of reading floor plans and cost estimates. This is important when assessing the market value of a built up area and tracking the progress of construction activities.
Knowledge in irrigation engineering is another asset in banking. The two may seem most unrelated but many public sector banks and RRBs pay special focus to agriculture loans. The sanctioned loan amount is based on the field area under irrigation, dry field area and the type of crop under cultivation. Knowledge of crop duration, quantum of water available and tenability of growing a certain crop in a particular land helps in assessing the risks that go with the advance.
Remember those days, when you had to get up in the wake of dawn for your surveying labs? Guess what, banking involves plenty of outdoor activities too. Some bankers are required to make periodic visits to their borrowers and inspect if the loan is being properly used for the purpose it has been granted for.
How would my skills make me adaptable to banking?
Recently, a lot of non banking work has been delegated to the banking sector. Examples are bank assurance, aadhaar seeding, promotion of government schemes like APY (Atal Pension Yojana), PMJJY (Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana) and PMSBY (Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana). These targets are in addition to the targets that individual branches need to achieve in CASA, MSME lending, Agricultural advances, retail lending, credit cards etc. When it comes to routine banking work like acceptance of deposits or sanctioning of loans, there are several checks that need to be made before giving the green signal. In short, there is a variety of work across many departments and the work load might get heavy towards the quarter end. Hence, being organized and well planed is of paramount importance.
This is a skill that civil engineers would have gained from their subjects of surveying and design based courses. Unless one plans ahead before setting out in survey, you would not be able to complete the work in the stipulated amount of time. Be it steel design or RCC design, there is a lot of data that needs to be processed, parameters that need to be met and safety checks that the design need to go through before being accepted.
Perhaps it is the strong mathematical base that many engineers have that allows them to thrive in the banking sector. Numeric ability and precision are greatly valued. At times, you will be required to manage and follow a sequence of transactions. One is required to cultivate the habit of making entries for every transaction. The most important check that needs to be made before closing for the day is that the sum of credits should equal to the sum of debits. Similar to how energy works, in a closed system there is no real loss or gain of energy. Hence, if you are debiting one head, logic follows that another head must have been credited. If the debits are not tallying with the credits, then that means a transaction has been made incorrectly or incomplete.
Does this sound strikingly familiar to the leveling field book?
(∑Back Sight – ∑Fore Sight) = (∑Rise – ∑Fall) = (RL of first point – RL of last point)
As you can see, the fundamental principle of checks and balances are applied to both the streams.
If these checks are not met, than that means somewhere there has been an incorrect reading. But if we could tally these heads on the ground under the blazing sun, we can definitely do tallying work in the comfort of our desk.
Social Awareness and Creative Problem Solving Skills for Civil Engineer.
During the construction of Terminal 3 of Delhi’s IGI airport, the design of the runway was facing a unique problem. Typically an aircraft should clear 1.4 km of the runway before touchdown. However this was not possible due to an eighty feet high statue of the Hindu God Shiva that came in the flight path. This meant that the flight must land 2 km after the start of the runway, forcing the pilot to use full brakes and reverse thrust to slow down the aircraft before the runway comes to an end. This could be really dangerous and could lead to accident. Lowering or relocating the statue was undesirable as it may lead to public outcry and raise religious sentiments.
The solution was a new runway that was planned at a 3 degree shift from the original and was extended by 1460 m, being compliant with air safety standards. As you can see, civil engineering is all about problem solving, taking into consideration social and environmental factors. It is often said that civil engineering is engineering for the civilians and meeting the needs of the people through built environment.
There are many situations in banking which calls for creative thinking and problem solving abilities, all the while being considerate to the sentiments of the customers. It is also crucial that we can find a solution that meets the rules and regulations in banking, without deviating from the norms.
Communication and Team Work
For a civil engineer, being able to communicate effectively with your clients is vital. This not only means presenting your views and inputs but more importantly, listening to what your client’s needs and expectations are. Similarly, banking is a customer centric industry. Bankers deal with customers from all walks of life with very different needs. It is the responsibility of the banker to understand where the customer is coming from and to offer suitable products and services that serve his/her needs.
In addition to good communication skills, the spirit of team work should be inculcated in every banker as banking is not a one man show. It takes every person to do their job well and offer support to their colleagues for the bank to function smoothly. You must have learnt that good team work leads to better results and quicker completion of tasks. Take any civil engineering lab. While one person follows the lab instructions, the other takes down the reading. A third person may then cross verify the reading. This leaves little space for error. Also the lab could be completely with accuracy and within the time limit.
Banks follow a maker-checker system where one person enters a transaction, and another authorizes it. This not only gives the staff a feeling of working together but also to catch an error if a mistake is made.
How do I, as Civil Engineer get into Banking?
If you like to give banking competition exams a shot, you have plenty of options. The most preferred exam is State Bank of India Probationary Officer exam (SBI PO), followed by Institute of banking personnel selection (IBPS PO) exam where you can enter into nationalized banks. Both the exams have a similar exam pattern. It has three tiers- preliminary exam, mains exams and interview. For those who are inclined more towards rural banking, you can apply for IBPS RRB (Regional Rural Bank) officer exam.
One of the best things about public sector bank exams is that it does not require you to have a degree in banking or commerce. This means a commerce graduate has the same chances as an engineer or an Arts graduate of securing a job in a PSB. So you can imagine how diverse your colleagues and work environment may be.
For those interested in private sector, most private banks list out their vacancies in their websites itself. Nowadays, various banks are recruiting aspirants through PGDBF program ie. Post graduate Diploma in banking and finance. PGDBF is a one year diploma course which helps candidates to strengthen their technical and managerial skills by equipping them with panoramic knowledge in banking and finance.
If you one among those who are looking for opportunities in non-civil sector, banking can be a great option to dive into and explore. Today, the scenario is rather unique where one can find engineers in almost any field. Civil engineering being a versatile course, it is a stream that gives way to plenty of career paths. Banking and finance is just one among them.
All the best to the road ahead!