Building society assistants, sometimes known as customer service advisers, are the first line of enquiry for customers entering the branch or contacting the call centre. Counter assistants deal with customers on a face-to-face basis using customised computer systems to process transactions and deal with account enquiries; other assistants may communicate with customers by telephone, email or in writing. They also undertake many of the day-to-day routine and administration tasks, such as dealing with correspondence and maintaining accurate records.
A new entrant may start by dealing with customer account transactions over the counter, but with experience could progress to a branch manager’s assistant role, where they have more responsibility, including supervising other staff. They would also be expected to undertake more technical tasks, such as agreeing certain loans and helping customers to complete mortgage applications.
Building society assistants are expected to market and sell financial products and services to customers in order to achieve personal and team targets. A comprehensive knowledge of the society's products and the products of other companies is needed to sell fairly and within guidelines. Products include personal loans, mortgages, pensions and insurance.
Increasingly, assistants may undertake online accounts work, monitoring and adjusting transactions as appropriate.
Building society assistants normally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with Saturdays worked on a rota system. The advent of telephone banking has seen the introduction of more shift and weekend work. Part-time work is widely available. Job sharing may be considered.
Most offices are modern and open plan. Counter assistants may work behind glass screens, others may be at desks in the front office. Interview rooms are available for dealing with situations where the customer requires privacy.
CCTV is in operation in all building societies and the working environment is observed constantly. A corporate uniform is provided by the employer.
Where several branches exist within a town or area, assistants may be posted to other locations temporarily.
As a building society assistant, you should:
Promotion in building societies is performance related, and often means moving to another branch. Building society assistants can progress to manager's assistant/trainee manager and then on to branch manager. The latter is often dependent upon gaining or working towards the IFS/CIOBS Associateship qualification (see Building Society Manager for more information).
Some building society assistants will study for mortgage qualifications, eg CeMAP and become mortgage advisers. See Mortgage Adviser for further details.
Opportunities also exist for building society assistants within head office, in other departments such as finance, training, information technology and human resources.
Recently, there has been a rise in the number of building societies offering electronic or telephone banking facilities. This has reduced the number of building society branches, but opportunities can now be found in building society call centres.
For details of skills shortages within banking, contact the Financial Services Skills Council.
If you would like to know anything about Building Society Assistant that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
Financial Services Skills Council
51 Gresham Street
Tel: 020 7216 7366
Institute of Financial Services
4-9 Burgate Lane
Tel: 01227 818609
The Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland
38b Drumsheugh Gardens
Tel: 0131 473 7777
The Building Societies Association
3 Savile Row
Tel: 020 7437 0655