Banking hasn’t moved on

My Great grandfather worked in a bank. He probably witnessed the introduction of the adding machine. Even then his work life would have revolved around the quill and ink; double entry book keeping, maintaining the accounts in journals and ledgers. In those days they were real journals and ledgers. And in balancing the books he would be reconciling data from one paper record to another.

Almost 100 years later and I recently found myself working for a bank… And I’m talking to people whose work lives, like my Great Grandfather’s, revolve around journals and ledgers. Only now their adding machines and the books have been replaced by systems.

Yet 100 years later their jobs remain similar to my Great Grandfathers. They are still reconciling data from one paper record to another. But it is no longer the journals themselves they are reconciling; now they are reconciling printouts of excel spreadsheets.

If IT was supposed to automate banking processes, take away “human error” and do away with reconciliation differences, IT professionals have failed to deliver on the promise. Indeed they’ve made things worse. The books may balance in one system, but add a few more systems, across the globe then things go a bit 1910. Manual reconciliation is still someone’s day job. It’s a sad fact that banking hasn’t really moved on in all that time.

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