A Closer Look at the Role of a Financial Examiner
When you walk into a bank, you want to know that the hard-earned money you’re depositing is being managed by an institution you can trust. While it’s not exactly common now to hear about banks or other financial institutions spiraling toward insolvency due to mismanagement, there are thousands of professionals working every day to keep it from happening. Financial examiners play an important part among the group, ensuring that people around the world can feel more confident about who is handling their money.
So how does a financial examiner protect people and their finances? Continue reading to learn what exactly a financial examiner does and the necessary skills and education to become one.
What does a financial examiner do?
In short, financial examiners work hard to prevent a financial crisis. They ensure that financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, follow laws and regulations that are designed to protect their customers.
To determine whether these institutions are operating fairly, financial examiners inspect the institution and their transactions, which can include oversight of:
- Balance sheets
- Operating income and expense accounts
- Loan documentation
- Bank management
After they assess the institution, financial examiners prepare reports of what they found. Based off these reports, financial examiners help the institution remain in compliance—or if necessary, become compliant with—the law. Financial examiners are also expected to stay up to date on new regulations, and analyze how these new policies may impact their organization.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial examiners generally work in one of two main areas: risk assessment or consumer compliance.1
- Risk assessment financial examiners are responsible for evaluating institutions and ensuring that the financial system remains stable. They review bank management, make certain that banks offer safe loans and have enough cash on hand to manage unexpected losses.
- Consumer compliance financial examiners monitor banks to ensure that borrowers are treated fairly. One way is to help borrowers avoid what they call “predatory loans.” These types of loans help generate profit for the bank, but may be extremely costly to the borrower and damage their credit scores. Consumer compliance examiners also protect borrowers from discrimination based on characteristics like race or ethnicity.
Where do financial examiners work?
In general, financial examiners work for commercial banks, credit unions, mortgage companies and other financial institutions. They may also find jobs at the federal or state government.
Most financial examiners work full time in offices independently or in small project teams, depending on their workload and employer. They frequently travel to inspect banks on-site.
Communication is critical to being a financial examiner. Email and in-person conversations are common and important ways for financial examiners to stay in contact with financial institutions, a project team and their clients.
What skills do financial examiners need?
It’s clear financial examiners play a critical role in the well-being of a financial institution. These professionals are in charge of making sure both sides of financial deals are not only fair, but follow strict regulations—so what do they need to succeed in this role? To pursue a successful career, employers look for the following skills in a financial examiner:
Top technical skills financial examiners need:2
- Risk management
- Compliance software
- Financial analysis software
- Customer service
- Record keeping
- Business administration
- Project management
Top transferable skills financial examiners need:2
- Microsoft Office®
- Critical thinking
What is the career outlook for financial examiners?
In order for a financial institution to thrive, they have to follow the rules. Seems straightforward, right? But to really succeed, many businesses and government agencies need financial examiners to help them navigate a long list of complicated rules. Not following these laws can lead to a variety of penalties that could even lead to the end of an institution.
While that prospect might seem scary, organizations’ efforts to avoid those penalties can be a boon for financial examiner employment. According to the BLS, employment of financial examiners is projected to grow 10 percent by 2026, showing how valued these types of professionals can be across multiple industries.1 The BLS notes that government organizations like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau employ a segment of financial examiners. This means would-be financial examiners may want to pay close attention to any potential changes to the regulatory environment for financial institutions—a reduction in oversight could harm their job prospects.
How do you become a financial examiner?
Most financial examiner positions require a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Economics or Finance, according to the BLS.1 Applicants should be prepared to put together financial reports and feel comfortable resolving problems individually or as a group, including participating in formal and informal meetings with clients. Typically, newly hired financial examiners will receive one year of on-the-job training under supervision of senior examiners.
Financial examiners need a variety of skills to be successful—not just numbers. From the latest financial software to effective communication, these professionals use their skills to help people on both sides of the financial world. If you’re interested in becoming a financial examiner or want to learn more about what a Finance degree can mean for you, check out our article “Is a Finance Degree Worth It? 4 Factors Impacting Your Finance Career Forecast.”
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed September 10, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [information accessed March, 2019] www.bls.gov/oes/.
3Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 1,462 financial examiner job postings by education, Mar. 01, 2018 – Feb. 28, 2019).
Microsoft Office is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.