Interview with Ryan Nelson
Name: Ryan Nelson
Major, minor, and graduation year: Double major in Economics and Business Admin concentration Finance in 1997.(I'm 90% sure of this)
Job Title: Assistant Vice President/Risk Manager
Organization/ Place of work: US Bank
You're a Risk Manager at a bank, what does that entail? What are your duties or responsibilities?
-I mainly deal with Consumer Banking within US Bank which includes all the branches, our 24 hr phone and internet banking group, Mortgage, Consumer Lending, and a variety of other smaller areas.Within this group, I more specifically deal with Information Security/Privacy, GLBA (Gramm Leach Bliley act), AML/BSA (Anti-Money Laundering/Bank Secrecy Act), Money Service Businesses, Wire Transfers, and misc other projects.I have three people that report to me.One is a Risk Manager who specializes in the retail branches (which now includes over 3000 branches in 24 states), internet banking and fraud prevention.The other two are analysts who perform some fraud monitoring and other maintenance functions for the branches.
There are many different types of Risk Managers at US Bank and other banks.To try to put it in simple terms, our job is to analyze a situation (this could be many different things like a loan, a new type of checking account, new fee, new government regulation, etc.) and decide whether there is a risk and if there is, how are we as a bank, going to deal with it.
What are the highlights of your job that you enjoy most?
- I have the opportunity to make real, positive change for the bank and our customers.Plus, I deal with so many different things that there is no getting bored because every day is different.
What are the challenges that you face with your job that are not enjoyable?
-The current regulatory environment in banking is tough and the entire banking industry's reputation has taking a negative turn the last few years.Some of it deserved most of it not.My biggest complaint is having to make changes that don't make business sense because a regulator/regulatory body doesn't agree with how we are doing it.
How do you spend your work days? Do you spend a lot of time office/lab/meetings/outside?
-I probably spend 90% of my time in my office, much of that time on conference calls.The other 10% is outside the office attending conferences or meetings in person.
How did this type of job/field interest you and how did you get started?
-From the time I arrived at UWS, I was pretty sure I wanted to get into banking.I wasn't exactly sure what part of it though.Money movement, the stock market, and the economy in general have always been an interest of mine.After I graduated, my first real job was with TCF bank in
What qualifications did you need to obtain this job?
-Certainly without my degree I wouldn't be here today.I would say the most important qualification was my retail branch experience.
What personal qualities or abilities do you believe contribute most to success in this job/field?
-I think being flexible, being able adapt to different situations has really helped me.Having the confidence to make a decision and stick by it.Being able to multitask while using time management skills is very important.I may be working on a variety of things at the same time and I have to prioritize the work.I am also very competitive person and that drives me.
What organizations were you involved in during your college years that helped you towards your career?
-I played on the baseball team at UWS and played different team sports throughout my life.I believe being part of a team or group is a very valuable experience as you move out of college and into the job market.Being able to work together toward a common goal is extremely important.
What degrees are appropriate for this line of work?
-I think most business degrees would work.Economics and Finance seem to be the most popular.There are some that have degrees completely outside of business but ended up with experience in the banking field after college.
Where and/or what do you hope to be in 2-5 years? 5-10 years? What are the keys to this career advancement?
-With the new regulatory environment, the Dodd Frank bill and the creation of the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) risk management in banking is very much a growing field.Just a few years ago, my area, Consumer Banking Risk Management started with two people.We now have 15.My plan is to continue in risk management for the foreseeable future. Every day I learn something new.
What was the best piece of advice you received and from who that helped you towards your career?
-I cannot say one piece of advice was better then another.Growing up, it was instilled in me to try to do the right thing, work hard but smart, do something you enjoy (or at least don't hate) and things would work out.
Do you have any advice or "words from experience" for a college student interested in this job/field?
-First of all, get your degree.Without it you don't have much of a chance.It is not impossible but much more difficult.After that, just get in door with a bank, work hard, and do a good job.The opportunities will come.
If you knew all this back in college, what would you say were the most important classes? Is there anything you would have paid more attention to? Any additional classes you would have taken?
-Definitely the Econ and Finance class were the most relevant.If I could do it over, I would have been a better student.Taken it a little more seriously and a few less keg parties.It has worked out for me but I think it took longer than it could have.For the field I got into, and don't know that I could have picked better classes then I did.
In college, people claim that a bachelor's degree isn't enough anymore and that you need a master's or doctorate degree to get your foot in the door. What's your opinion?
-I disagree with that.I don't have a master's degree and most of the people I work with do not have one.Obviously it is an advantage and I would never suggest it is a bad idea.But a necessity, no, at least not in the field I am in.Without one you may start a little lower and make less money but you can make that ground up if you are smart and work hard.Experience can be the great equalizer.Now if you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company you are probably going to have to get an advanced degree at some point.My advice is get in with a company; most have tuition reimbursement, and let the company pay for some or all of your tuition.