The Role of a Bank Teller
This lesson printed from:
Posted May 24, 2005
Author: Council for Economic Education Technology Staff
Posted: May 24, 2005
Updated: January 3, 2007
In banking and finance, the role of a bank teller is a key feature. In this lesson, we will explore how bank tellers could make or break the banking world!
- Define the role of a bank teller
- Explain the decision-making steps of a bank teller when he/she cashes a check.
- Learn about the responsibilities of a bank teller and about skills needed to be one.
- Identify problems in processing deposits.
When people discuss banking and finance, they often underestimate the specialized skills required to process the millions of banking transactions that occur every day. The vital role of the bank tellers who handle these day-to-day transactions is often overlooked. In this lesson, we will explore how bank tellers could make or break the banking process!
Step One: Have your students read the following basic information about bank tellers.
In banking, a bank teller's function is key. Whenever a deposit is made at a bank, a teller has to determine if the item being deposited is cash (paper currency or coins) or non-cash (checks or money orders). Then the teller has to judge which cash and non-cash demands are legitimate, and when to pay out to the customer. If a bank teller makes the wrong decision, it could result in losses for the bank and maybe even for the teller! Click on the following link to learn more about the nature of a teller's work .
Step Two: Ask questions
- Have your students record questions that they might have about the role of a bank teller.
- Have your students share and compare their questions with a classmate.
Step Three: Handout Activity One. In this activity, the students will read several scenarios involving a bank teller, and then they will answer questions about the scenarios. Click on the following link for the Activity One Answers.
- Have the students read through the handout on their own.
- The teacher then should go over the answers with the students.
Step Four: Follow-up question.
- In light of the examples given in Activity One, explain why the bank teller's job is very important in banking.
Step Five: Handout Activity Two. This activity lists factors that a teller considers when deciding whether or not to accept a check. The students will read the list; they they will write down what kind of knowledge tellers need to do their job. Click on the following link for Activity Two Answers.
- Have the students work on their own or with a partner.
- The teacher then should go over the answers with the students.
Step Six: Follow-up questions.
- How do banks decide whether or not to cash your check?
- What kinds of knowledge do you think a bank teller needs?
- In the past, the checks that were drawn at local banks could be delayed from crediting an account. Why do you think this happened?
- Do you think a bank would delay crediting your account today? Why or why not?
Step Seven: Handout Activity Three. In this activity, the students will read the brief selection about banking laws; then they will answer the included questions. Click on the following link for Activity Three Answers.
- Have the students read through and complete Activity Three.
Step Eight: Follow-up questions
- How has government law affected bank tellers?
- Do you know of any specific laws that have affected bank tellers?
- Do you think these laws are fair or unfair? Why?
Step Nine: The article "Amid Fraud, Role of Bank Teller Changing" deals with the growing responsibilities of bank tellers. Have the students read the article and then answer the following questions.
What are some of the new responsibilities of bank tellers? [ Due to the Patriot Act, tellers are now required by law to ask more questions, record much more information from customer, and be on the lookout for suspicious activity. They also have expanded responsibilities beyond completing transactions, like dispersing financial information or even selling other financial products and services that the bank offers.]
How is fraud becoming an even bigger concern to tellers and banks? [Identity theft, which includes bank fraud, is the fastest growing crime in the nation, so it is becoming an even bigger concern to tellers and bankers.]
What are banks doing about fraud beoming an even bigger issue? [Banks are tightening rules and asking their tellers to do more to prevent fraud. Additionally, technology for copying and counterfeiting has become more sophisticated, making fraud harder to detect.]
What are banks doing to combat this fraud? [To stop fraud, bank tellers are using more advanced technology, like fingerprint scanners to help identify customers. Banks are also encouraging tellers to get to know customers and their banking habits, and to be on their toes at all times]
- Describe some of the skills needed to be a good teller. [Since a teller is the face of the bank, a teller must have very good “people skills” and be able to communicate well with customers. A teller should also be skillful using technology, and be knowledgeable about laws and regulations that apply to banking (like the Patriot Act). A teller must also have skills beyond basic math skills, and be able to help customers with their other financial needs.]
Have the students write a brief paragraph focusing on the following topics:
- What are the pros and cons of bank tellers cashing checks?
- Why is it important for banks to employ tellers who have certain specialized skills?
- After learning all the characteristics and responsibilities of a bank teller, would you consider a job as a bank teller? Why or why not?
After the students have written their paragraphs, discuss the responses given to the final question. If time permits, make a chalkboard list of the reasons students give for thinking they would or would not like to work as a bank teller. The list should allow the students to decide whether or not they may like working as a bank teller.
Optional Extension Activity:
- In preparation for an interview activity, divide the class up into two-person interview teams.
- Assign the teams to interview a local bank teller (dates and other logistics to be determined by the teacher).
- For the interview, the students should use the interview handout sheet. (Encourage the students to add questions of their own.)
- Have the students write a reaction paper to their interview. (OPTIONAL: Have students present an oral report on the results of their interviews.)
- Teachers: Please read through the lesson steps and handouts, making changes as necessary for you classroom circumstances.
- In this lesson I have drawn upon some materials produced by the National Academy of Finance]