ARCHIVED  November 1, 1995

Banking career offers financial, community rewards

We’d like to help you break into a bank – as an employee, that is.

And according to your interest in a banking career, you can basically write your own sentence: one year, five years, 20 years to life.

Marsha Sword has done time in banking for 25 years and serves as assistant vice president of 1st Choice Bank, which employs 50 people in Greeley and Fort Collins. Sword’s account of her first banking job is similar to that of many: Fresh out of college with a business major, she began filing checks and running proof.

When 1st Choice Bank’s Greeley facility opened in July 1992, startup employees had at least some banking experience.

Subsequent job openings have been filled with experienced individuals whenever possible, but training is available to anyone with the right blend of education and personal/people skills.

“We job-post internally before hiring from the outside, but an unskilled hiree (with no banking experience) can start as a teller, or be hired in as a credit analyst with a college degree in finance or business,” Sword said. From there, promotions can be to new accounts, sales/marketing or bank-card representative positions.

Paul Gale, senior vice president of FirstBank Holding Company of Colorado in Lakewood, said the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) is “a very positive factor in retaining our best employees.” Twenty-five percent of FirstBank’s common stock is owned by ESOP, making employees the largest single shareholder of the company.

FirstBank employs 50 to 60 people in Larimer and Weld counties, with two locations in both Loveland and Fort Collins, and one in Greeley, all of which opened their doors in the past one to 2 1/2 years. This growth demands some outside hiring.

The number of FirstBank locations throughout the state offers employees flexibility in being able to request a transfer if, for example, a spouse changes jobs or the family moves to a new area of town. The employee’s ESOP account and salary remain in place.

Are all the opportunities at larger banks? Nikkie Evans, loan administrator for Farmers Bank in Eaton, doesn’t think so. Some of the ways Evans feels rewarded on the job are things she can’t “take to the bank,” such as one-on-one contact with customers, trust, and the family-type relationship among coworkers.

“A small bank can be such an integral part of the community it serves, and when a customer comes to me for help, I feel a little bit like I’m giving something to the community as well,” Evans said.

Personal preferences will dictate to which bank(s) you apply. But consideration of the following also lends insight:

Bonding: The process will vary according to each bank’s practices, but any breach of trust, dishonesty or felony conviction (at least within the past five years) uncovered will subject you to dismissal or will prevent you from even being hired. Banks can lose their ability to be FDIC-insured if employees are not bonded.

Credit checks are not permissible as a way of judging character in the job-screening process but will be conducted if an employee is seeking a loan through a bank.

Security: Security measures such as taking your fingerprints might be implemented.

Benefits: Typical are health, dental and vision insurance; long-term and short-term disability; life insurance; cafeteria plan; vacation, sick and holiday pay; and 401(k) retirement plan.

Still, the best part of a banking career is probably that you won’t work on Columbus Day.

We’d like to help you break into a bank – as an employee, that is.

And according to your interest in a banking career, you can basically write your own sentence: one year, five years, 20 years to life.

Marsha Sword has done time in banking for 25 years and serves as assistant vice president of 1st Choice Bank, which employs 50 people in Greeley and Fort Collins. Sword’s account of her first banking job is similar to that of many: Fresh out of college with a business major, she began filing checks and running proof.

When 1st Choice Bank’s Greeley facility opened…

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