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September 04 , 2008

A Simple Explanation of Modern Banking Customs (Illustrated)


After some years of work in a bank, it has been impressed daily upon the writer that, if the depositors were fully informed about the details of the conduct of banks, closer and more satisfactory relations would result. Hence this attempt to explain, in a simple and concise way, avoiding as much as possible the use of technical terms, certain things that every depositor should know.

For ten years the writer was "in business." For an equal length of time he has been connected with a large city bank. He remembers his utter lack of comprehension of banks and their ways, and his consequent mistakes, perplexity, and embarrassment in dealing with them. Also the unfairness and prejudice with which he often judged them.

Recalling all this, he believes that, without giving offense, he can state these facts.

Many men having constant transactions with the banks do not realize the importance of the choice of a bank; few understand the correct way in which a note should be drawn, or how to determine the exact due date of a sixty or ninety-day note, or acceptance; what "protesting" a note or draft really means, and what effect it has on the drawers or endorsers; the functions of the Clearing House and the simplicity of its methods; why the banks are compelled to pursue a certain course in the collection of paper sent them, even though this course may be very objectionable to the payers; how checks are collected; the effect of certifying a check; and many other details. Also that very few depositors have ever seen a copy of the National Bank Act, or are familiar with the laws governing their own State Banks and Trust Companies.

This lack of knowledge of the laws and customs, from which there can be no safe departure, is undoubtedly the cause of many unreasonable requests; assertions of fancied rights; remonstrances, and irritating misunderstandings. This condition should not exist. One explanation for it may be, that the work in a bank is so strenuous, everything having to be accomplished in so short a time, that the officers and employes do not have the opportunity to explain fully the reason why.

Many seem to think that the details of banking are very complicated. But there is no mystery about these details. They are very simple and sane. The methods of bookkeeping are really elementary, principally mere addition and subtraction. Of course the science of banking and political economy involves deep and profound study, but these are not treated here, and the writer has attempted merely to give an idea of the daily routine of a bank.

This can be stated with certainty. The interests of the public and the banks are identical; and an acquaintance with banking customs will enable any man to conduct his business with much greater intelligence, satisfaction and profit. Also that banks want to accommodate, as far as possible, not only their own customers, but others, because they are possible customers.

It is hoped that this writing, in some small degree, may hasten the time, when the political orators, remembering that the day of the private banker has passed, and that the people now own the banks, will cease inciting the public against them; when the law makers, elected by the stockholders and depositors of banks, will cease oppressing them by unequal and unjust taxation; when the public generally, realizing the necessity and importance of banks to every community, will cease being prejudiced against them and their ways, and, by reason of a better understanding, will feel closer and more cordial toward them.

So "here's to a better acquaintance" between the public and the banks.


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