Professional Writing Experience of a Banking Executive
For this project, I had the privilege to interview a senior executive from one of the country’s most reputed commercial banking institutions. Md. Amzad Hossain is the Executive Vice President of Prime Bank Limited and is currently heading the SME Branches Network of the bank.
Mr. Hossain joined Prime Bank Limited as a financial analyst and has been working there for nearly two decades. A BBA graduate from the department of Finance at Dhaka University, Mr. Amzad Hossain went to the University of Brussels to complete his MBA. It is there that he was exposed to a world-class business education course facilitating collaborative learning environment among students from across the globe.
As Executive Vice President, Mr. Hossain’s primary responsibilities are making crucial decisions regarding loan approvals, analyzing performance of subordinate branches and attracting potential clients for organizational profit maximization.
Attracting new investment into the bank is another exciting part of his job. By showcasing the services offered by his institution and by explaining to potential investors the competitive advantages they can get by investing in the company, Mr. Hossain tries to keep organizational profit levels satisfactory. For this, he often needs to contact foreign banks and financial institutions.
Banks and financial institutions are closely monitored by regulatory entities. For companies like Prime Bank Ltd. the most important of these entities is Bangladesh Bank, the country’s central banking institution. Mr. Hossain regularly provides reports to the central bank authority about his division’s dealings and performances. The National Board of Revenue and the customs authority are two other regulators he must conform to and be responsive towards. He also needs to maintain liaison with competitor firms both home and abroad.
What I Learned from the Interview
Mr. Hossain’s job description requires him to write significant amounts of several types of documents to different parties. Each of these types has its own style and set of rules. They demand different forms of expression to effectively connect with the target audience. Two of the most common types of documents he needs to write are reports and proposals.
Reports often tend to be evaluative in nature. They focus on analysing progress on a certain task. Such documents sometimes include his personal opinion regarding the overall performance of certain branches of the bank and what control measures should be imposed to eliminate performance deviations. Mr. Hossain writes reports to the upper management, to the central bank, to the NBR and to outside stakeholders. He tries to “convey the main idea through the use of commonly known words and simple expressions.”
Another major type of writing he has to do in his job is proposals; proposals to prospective clients, proposal to potential investors. Contrary to a report’s succinct and utilitarian nature, a proposal assumes a more flexible, descriptive style — the sort of writing style we commonly refer to as a ‘narrative’. Here Mr. Hossain has the freedom to incorporate, to a limited instance though, his power of imagination and creativity to appeal to a more informal and general audience. In order to persuade people to invest in and work with the company, he must present company specific facts and figures in a relatively less rigid and more attractive manner.
Although the two writings are related to each other in the sense that they both strive to attain organizational goals, they vary widely in many dimensions. Firstly, reports require a strictly defined structure which needs to be maintained throughout the whole document. But proposals do not have industry wide standards and thus offer more room for the author to maneuver. Secondly, the target audiences are totally different for the two types — one is meant to address a highly institutional audience with specific structural requirements while the other is aimed at knocking on the attention of a diverse audience with varied tastes and levels of perception. For example, central bankers are not interested to know how an employee personally feels about working in the organization. But consumers value such information for better decision making. And finally, whereas reports are written on the basis of facts, figures and evidence, subjective judgment and individual creativity contribute to writing a better proposal.
Preparing for Similar Writing Experiences
Interviewing Mr. Amzad Hossain gave me key insights into how to prepare for the writings a banking professional needs to perform. I have realized that solely relying on institutional academic curriculum is not enough. During the interview, Mr. Hossain openly admitted his formal education here in Bangladesh did little to prepare him for professional writing. He believes it is necessary to “go beyond the artificial boundaries of academia and discover writing patterns of other disciplines” in order to “gain valuable understanding of different subject matters as well as forms of expressing ideas.”
In business writing scenarios, particular emphasis is given on word selection. Simple and commonly used words articulately express the basic idea to the target audience while preventing vagueness or multiple interpretations. This clarity of expression is crucial in the corporate sector where “the last thing you want is the other end of the communication channel misunderstanding your message.”
Before writing any type of report or proposal, Mr. Hossain tries to thoroughly understand his target audience; their needs, expectations and perspectives. Doing so becomes even more important when he writes to people from other regions of the world. For example, while writing a business proposal to a Chinese investor, he asks himself, “Which piece of information should be relevant to him the most? What is my position in this argument and how can I clearly state that? How will this person interpret my message?”
Although studying different writing patterns improves one’s writing abilities and it is important to read a lot, I also learned from Mr. Hossain that perfection and flow of presentation in writing comes with a lot of practice. Anyone who intends to enhance his/her writing skills should practice writing on a regular basis. Articulation and uniqueness of style is attained through a lot of experience of writing. For students like us Mr. Hossain suggested the practice of what he calls ‘simulated writing’.
For this, a student should know the common scenarios in which professionals have to write and imagine himself in that position. After that he should write as if he were to address the target audience and persuade them on behalf of the organization. This practice will give him a competitive advantage by preparing him for the writings he needs to perform in the future.