After 50 years of being a member, I have seen tremendous changes in the Institute of Bankers in South Africa. But a constant of its mission has been the acquisition of knowledge through education.
From its creation at the turn of the last century, when it was described as a library for the banker, it has become, in this century, a “digital knowledge vault”. In today’s world the laptop, therefore, is increasingly replacing the library as the source for knowledge; but remember that no matter how you get there the destination remains the same: knowledge.
Of equal importance is the realisation that whatever goals you have set yourself in the financial services industry, which by definition incorporates the banking field, and whether or not you go to university, you need to view your career choice as a vocation in which you will serve the equivalent of an apprenticeship, leading on to a level of competency after which you can consider yourself a professional in your field. There are no short cuts, just the steady accumulation of knowledge and practical application over time that will eventually add the essential ingredient for success: experience. Importantly, in this process the only degree you should concentrate on is your degree of ability.
The financial services industry abounds with opportunities, but not for those unprepared to make the effort and master the technical skills. There is a shortage of such professional individuals in the financial services industry in South Africa and elsewhere and, if treated as a mentor, the Institute can be the door that leads to success for those prepared to truly become experts in their field and to distinguish themselves positively. I am reminded of George Bernard Shaw’s observation: “There are only two qualities in the world, efficiency and inefficiency, and only two sorts of people: the efficient and inefficient.” I have met both kinds in my career.
I have been proud to wear the Institute’s tie in the several large and small countries where I have lived since parting the shores of Africa 44 years ago. What the Institute did for me – by applying myself to my vocation and seizing the opportunities that membership gave me – it can do for others who have decided to pursue a financial services career in the banking field.
Article by Derek Sambrook