13 years ago I took a chance and moved to Australia from Happy Valley in Newfoundland, Canada. My first job was running the bowling club in Lake Cargelligo, NSW before working at Foodworks.
When I started working in banking seven years ago, I joined the Lake Cargelligo branch as a ‘Customer Advisor’. There are many parts of that role that don’t exist anymore – neither do the pens on strings, nor deposit slips easily repurposed for bored children to colour on or the traditional ‘teller desk’.
Digital technology has changed so much about our lives. Not least of all banking for myself, my friends, my family and my customers.
I remember the days of balancing a passbook for a customer in a little book and clearly remember my mother showing me how to save my pocket money in a glass jar. Now it’s apps for accounts and apps for kids’ savings– apps for everything!
When I started working with NAB in 2015, back then, digital banking was still fairly new to us in Lake Cargelligo.
When COVID hit, we had no choice but to start helping our customers bank online, just in case our branch would have to shut due to a close contact
NAB has more than 100 years of connections with this community and 100 years of serving our customers wrapped up in this branch. It’s true that digitisation has changed everything – we just aren’t getting the number of customers walk through the door that we used to.
Today, my customers are more likely to transfer money to a friend while sitting on the couch at home or check their home loan rate at the coffee shop than head into a branch.
My role has changed dramatically too – I was worried I’d lose touch with my customers and the sense of pride and purpose I get from helping people out.
I’ve adapted. The way people bank has changed, and more and more people are banking online on their phone or the iPad in our branch. Everything is just a click away.
When online enquiries increased at the beginning of the pandemic, I joined a pilot program to work in live chat services. This was a game changer, as I was able to dedicate time solely to branch work in the mornings, and then move onto chat in the afternoons.
During one memorable occasion, I spent an hour with a 94-year-old gentleman to ensure that he was comfortable with what we had taught him – how to transfer money to his grandchildren!
I felt super proud of myself and of him for taking it on and deciding that he needed to learn a new way of banking. I also feel proud of myself for making the most of the opportunity these changes have presented – I have learned new skills and grown my career in ways I never expected to.
Now I really look forward to my online chat days three afternoons a week! I’m just a phone call or a click away now. And I’ve been able to make the new job work for me – from the comfort of my own home – with enough time to learn to draw during the pandemic. I started with graphite drawings and progressed to pastels, and I draw mostly wildlife like birds and frogs.
I’m conscious too that the future of banking will look different again from what it does today. Change is ongoing – just as we have swapped DVDs for online subscription services, I’ve finally swapped my branch uniform for a headset.
I sometimes miss the old days of the branch but I’m not looking back – I’m proud I can still put my customers first every day I turn up to work.
Sherri – NAB Banker, part-time artist, Lawn Bowler and proud member of the Lake Cargelligo community