Redefining ‘Banker’

by Rob Nichols, American Bankers Association

What does it mean to be a banker today?

Those of you reading this column have a good idea of the variety of jobs held by the 2 million women and men who work for America’s banks. But many would-be bankers don’t. That lack of awareness can be an obstacle to recruiting talent in an increasingly tight job market, particularly among younger generations whose “bank” is their smart phone and who therefore may have less personal exposure to actual bank employees.

To address that, ABA’s Emerging Leaders Council recommended a series of profiles of real-life bankers in a range of roles and at various stages in their careers. They believed that no one can be a better ambassador for careers in banking than those who are currently finding success and fulfillment in banking roles.

They were so right. Visit and you’ll see what I mean.

There you will find video profiles of several talented individuals who are proud to be bankers and who will make you proud, too.

They work in functions ranging from digital strategist to agribusiness lender and from head of retail banking to communications director. They also work at banks of all sizes, some in big cities, others in small towns. And no matter what role they serve in, these bankers believe the opportunity, impact and rewards associated with their jobs are hard to beat.

“It’s a satisfying feeling at the end of the day to be driving down the road and see a new building or a new business or someone out with a new farm machine and know they came to you to help with that,” says Tyler Stevenson, commercial and agribusiness lender with First National Bank of Omaha.

“There’s so much opportunity here. This is where I want to be. I want to be part of this change in making things better for customers in giving broader access, and developing tools that can help people save, small businesses grow and communities develop,” says Ashley Nagle Eknaian, chief digital strategist and head of Eastern Labs at Eastern Bank.

“Banking is wonderful because you get to see the impact that you have on the community around you…. That gratification is enough to just say, wow — I’m doing something important,” says Julio Figueroa, who within five years advanced from teller to security officer at Windsor Federal Savings.

These individuals and the others profiled came to banking by different paths. Two transitioned into banking after serving in the military. One started as an intern and quickly found he had tremendous professional growth potential. Yet another spent time in the fashion business.

Their backgrounds, roles and testimonials shatter banker stereotypes and show what it really means to be a banker in today’s modern world. And they are a wonderful complement to ABA’s America’s Banks website ( that tells the story of banking today and the industry’s economic impact.

We couldn’t have asked for more compelling spokespeople for our industry. When we asked these banking leaders to describe their careers in one word, they answered with adjectives like, “life-changing,” “impactful,” “fulfilling,” “incredible” and “entrepreneurial.”

Our job now is to let the world hear their stories, and we’re counting on you, the state associations and social media to help. Please consider showing the collective or individual videos to job applicants at your bank and at local job fairs. Share them with local colleges and career placement offices, and encourage your employees to do the same.

These videos, combined with all that banks individually and collectively have to offer—including training, professional development and community involvement—make a compelling case for banking as a career choice. And the more we can help talented individuals find their future in banking, the more we, too, will be rewarded.