Career Spotlight: Bank Examiner

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Male bank examiner wearing a tie and button up shirt reviews files on paper and laptop..

According to the website Vault, a bank examiner is a public servant who works to ensure that our nation’s banks remain strong and safe. “Essentially, they protect our money and our nation’s economy,” the site says.

The bank examiner fulfills this critical role by carefully examining every aspect of a financial institution’s operations. Although this job may include financial analysis, Vault clarifies that bank examiners and accountants are not the same.

“A bank examiner is as interested in a bank’s operations as in the bank’s financial records,” the website says. “Bank examiners conduct their examinations by reviewing a bank’s policies to see, first of all, whether the policies are sound. They then review the bank’s records to discover whether the bank is following its own policies.”

Although bank examiners are not accountants, they do need a strong working knowledge of accountancy and significant related experience. Advanced accounting knowledge can be obtained through programs such as University of North Dakota’s master’s in accountancy online.This program offers a convenient path to a bank examiner career or many other careers in accounting.

Two Areas

The world of bank and financial examination consists of two main areas of focus: risk assessment and consumer compliance.

Examiners who work in risk assessment evaluate the health of financial institutions. Financial strength can be measured by several metrics. The examiner may evaluate a bank manager’s performance, or ensure that the institution offers safe loans, which means that it has enough cash on hand to manage unexpected losses.

The examiner works on just one bank at a time—but when thousands of examiners are individually doing these tasks at different banks, the process stabilizes the system as a whole.

Examiners who work in consumer compliance monitor lending activity, making sure that borrowers are treated fairly. For example, they ensure that banks do not extend unreasonably large loans that borrowers cannot pay back. It might also mean shutting down the practice of high-interest “predatory loans” that damage borrowers’ credit scores. Examiners may also check to make sure that a bank is not discriminating against borrowers based on ethnicity, race, gender or other demographic traits.

What Bank Examiners Do

In either area of focus, bank and financial examiners have similar duties. On its website, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) explains these duties. Bank and financial examiners may be asked to:

  • Monitor the health of banks and other financial institutions. This function requires extensive and careful examination of financial records, operating documents, workforce structure and any other factors that may affect the organization’s soundness.
  • Examine high-level meeting minutes, if necessary, to fully understand the relationships and actions of managers and directors.
  • Confirm an organization’s assets and liabilities by reviewing balance sheets, operating income, expense accounts and loan documents.
  • Prepare reports that summarize the findings of the bank examiner’s investigations.
  • Train other examiners to carry out financial examinations.
  • Review new regulations and policies whenever they are introduced to evaluate their potential impact on the organization. The bank examiner must form an opinion about the potential effect of such policies and make recommendations based on that opinion.
  • Help to establish guidelines for following and complying with the new regulations, if they are deemed appropriate.

Because much of a bank examiner’s work is done on site, examiners may travel extensively. Bank examiners may often spend weeks at a remote location, living out of a hotel and working in a borrowed office to complete an assignment.

Ongoing Training

In addition to their regular assignments, bank and financial examiners should prepare themselves for a lifetime of ongoing training and education.

“The financial services industry is changing constantly from within, and new legislation keeps the banking industry in a state of flux,” states the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “Interstate banking, the new Community Reinvestment Act regulation and capital markets risk are just a few of the issues that will guarantee…examiners will continue to have a lot of learning to do.”

The load is heaviest during the first year of employment, when new examiners can expect to spend up to 25% of their time in training. After the initiation period, examiners will need continuing education to keep up with changing rules and regulations.

Salary and Job Outlook

Becoming a bank examiner requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but additional education is increasingly attractive to today’s employers. Candidates who earn a Master of Accountancy (M.Acc.) position themselves to start out in higher-paying and more prestigious jobs.

According to the BLS, growth in the bank and financial examiner fields is expected to be higher than average through 2028. In 2018, the United States had approximately 60,900 bank examiners. By 2028, that number is expected to grow to 65,200, representing a 7% increase.

The BLS maintains salary statistics for bank and financial examiners. The median pay for all financial examiners as of 2018 was $80,180. The lowest 10% earned less than $42,150, and the highest 10% earned more than $154,590. Factors contributing to individual pay rates include education, certifications, additional skills or areas of specialization and years of experience.

University of North Dakota’s Master of Accountancy Online Degree

University of North Dakota’s Master of Accountancy (M.Acc.) online program helps students master accounting principles as well as related skills necessary for a successful career in bank and financial examination or other areas of the financial field.

UND is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, which only recognizes about 30% of business programs in the United States. The Master of Accountancy online program offers practitioner and fundamentals tracks. Coursework is done online, which allows busy professionals to study accountancy and earn their degree without disrupting their work or personal lives.

For more information, contact UND today.

Sources:

Bank examiner definition – Vault

Difference between bank examiners and accountants – Vault

Two areas of focus – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What bank examiners do – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ongoing training – Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Salary and job outlook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics