Next Memory

Qualifications, and the Last Chance Saloon

by Norman Worwood


Promotion of any real kind was rarely available unless a staff member had acquired banking qualifications, which until the War years had meant passing the examinations of the Institute of Bankers (now absorbed by the Chartered Institute of Financial Services) and almost all members had either done this or were in the process of doing so, except for ladies who were allowed to take the First part of the examinations only. Immediately post-War, the Institute of Savings Banks was formed and offered a qualification more suited to savings bank work. New staff joining the Bank were allowed a choice of either and believing that the original qualification was better, I opted in 1948 for the Institute of Bankers examination, Part 1 of which I had successfully completed by early 1950. Much more importantly to me in our straitened circumstances, I had also earned the Bank Committee's honorarium of £15 for doing so. Part 2 of the examination, by the AIB's rules, had to be taken in two sections, but unfortunately, 1950 was also the year in which I married, developed an appendix abscess, and spent nearly three months in hospital, so that my studies were curtailed and I failed the first section of Part 2. Worse was to come! The Bank Committee announced that in the forthcoming year they would be discontinuing the grand £30 honorarium for passing Part 2---- the equivalent of nearly 10% of my gross annual salary. Desperation set in and I decided that the only way to obtain the honorarium was to switch to the Savings Bank Institute exams, obtain exemption from Part 1 and take all of Part 2 at one sitting, which although in two sections, was permissible under their rules. Spurred on by a whisper that told me that Jim Dempster at Head Office was running a 'book' on the result, my gamble paid off and I got my £30. What I never dared ask was whether Jim's 'book' made a profit or suffered a loss.