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As chiefs of their bank’s finance and operations departments, settlement officers must ensure the confidentiality and integrity of every account transaction. New hires start at the bottom, performing functions known in financial circles as “back office support.” Training in these clerical tasks provides new hires with an understanding of cash flow and account management. This expansive first-level training prepares settlement officers for a role that demands a high level of competence and will require them to perform many ad hoc tasks down the road.
Perform back office transactions. Use customer service representatives to understand a client’s needs. Prepare daily trade reports and monitor each client’s account transactions. Learn how to research securities, market conditions and funds impacting client accounts.
Create accounts. Practice fundamental settlement officer tasks such as entering information manually on computer databases, verifying information, reconciling balances, printing reports, processing management fees and performing any task needed to help senior officers advise clients. Also learn how to convert financial data between portfolios and contact managers.
Study account management principles. Learn how to balance inquiries and statements. Practice dispersing funds into customer accounts. Understand why settlement officers must keep a client’s personal information strictly confidential.
Take classes in documentation and controls. Know how to work with customer service officers and broker representatives to confirm that necessary controls exist to stop insider trading.
Mentor with middle and senior level account managers to learn effective liaison techniques. For example, settlement officers must collaborate with internal customer service and brokerage managers.
Review fund agreements. Identify each fund’s terms, conditions, language regarding fiduciary and legal control over irrevocable gifts, variance power and excessive donor control.
Master advanced report management techniques. For example, higher level settlement officers must generate periodic reports that inform the bank’s supervisors about the flow of everyday transactions and recommend ways to improve the process.
Study reconciliation procedures banks use for general ledger accounts and for short- and intermediate-term funds. Find out how to confirm account deposits and disbursements and how to make needed corrections.
Process direct deposits and cash receipts. Work with the bank’s financial services office to understand how the payroll and accounts payable departments enter distributions into different accounts.
Know how to use computer programs to perform back and front office functions. For example, Midas software allows banks to monitor accounts, update databases and process transactions. Some versions of Midas support the bank’s commercial and syndicated lending functions like identifying exposures, income and risks.
Michele Vrouvas has been writing professionally since 2007. In addition to articles for online publications, she is a litigation paralegal and has been a reporter for several local newspapers. A former teacher, Vrouvas also worked as a professional cook for five years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Caldwell College.