SMITHFIELD, RI - When the premier bank regulator in the United States is looking for the sharpest, most talented first-year financial examiners, it finds many of the best and brightest graduates at Bryant University.
"Bryant alumni have been well prepared and successful at the OCC.”
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has hired Bryant Finance program graduates each of the last seven years. In fact, of the 43 job offers made to entry level examiners in the Northeast District in December 2020, five were Bryant graduates.
A rigorous hiring process
The initial hiring process is rigorous, starting with an examination to test writing skills, then knowledge and analytical tests. Candidates who make it through the first phase then move on to an intensive interview process. Once hired, new managers participate in about six to eight months of training to “get up to speed,” with the opportunity to become commissioned national bank examiners after several years.
“Not everyone succeeds, but Bryant students generally do very well,” says Michael Moriarty Associate Deputy Comptroller at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. “It speaks very well to the work [Bryant] has been doing with students. Bryant alumni have been well prepared and successful at the OCC.”
The typical starting salary range for jobs at the OCC is $63,000 to $72,000. According to the latest PayScale College Salary Report, Bryant is among the top 10 percent in the country overall for the highest alumni salaries, with the average early career salary for all Bryant alumni at $62,700 and $115,800 at mid-career.
Why is Bryant one of the largest feeder schools to the OCC this year?
Why is Bryant one of the largest feeder schools to the OCC this year? According to Peter Nigro, Ph.D., Finance Professor and former economist with the Comptroller of the Currency, the OCC comes to Bryant for several reasons.
First, there is Bryant’s overall curriculum integrates business and liberal arts. This ensures that in addition to what they learn in their particular areas of study, all students learn critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills, take part in immersive experiential opportunities, and gain a 360 world view that prepares them to work well with colleagues from all disciplines and walks of life analyze and solve problems in effective ways.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Providing students, regardless of their major, with the skills that employers are seeking should be part of every academic department’s curriculum.” Nigro notes that Bryant’s been doing this for more than 20 years.
“We are way ahead of the curve on this,” he said.
Madeline McLaughlin who graduated with a double major in Finance and Applied Statistics started her position at the OCC in May 2019. “I have really appreciated the business and liberal arts integration as I advance in my career,” she said. “Applied statistics has been an excellent complement to my finance concentration, and I’ve been able to tap into that knowledge at unexpected moments in my job.”
“Bryant students gain the ability to think critically using the skills and knowledge as a reservoir to tap into."
“Bryant students gain the ability to think critically using the skills and knowledge as a reservoir to tap into. They can see how the scenarios and case studies play out in the real world,” says Finance faculty member Ray Grigelevich ’91, ‘00MBA, Credit Group Manager, Commercial Lending, The Bank of Canton.
"This integration was the reason I chose to attend Bryant."
Andrew Stone ’10, OCC Large Bank Field Examiner, says "This integration was the reason I chose to attend Bryant."
As an economics major with minors in finance and political science, Stone gained the high-level skills needed for a job at the OCC. “Bryant prepared me for a professional environment where communication is key. These skills gave me the ability to communicate with senior bank management basically from day one.”
“As for Bryant’s finance program specifically,” Nigro adds, “There are a number of ways our curriculum prepares students to stand out and be ready to hit the ground running when they get out into the job market.”
“Through our program, Bryant students are able to complete their first year of job training while they are still in school, so they get a huge competitive advantage in the job market.”
Bryant has mirrored its curriculum after the bank training programs historically offered at the large commercial banks. “This type of program has been phased out in many firms due to costs cuts,” explains Nigro. “But through our program, Bryant students are able to complete their first year of job training while they are still in school, so they get a huge competitive advantage in the job market.”
Nigro developed a three-course track in banking that includes Bank Management, Financial Statements, and the Risk Management Association Credit Essential course. Bryant was one of the first universities to incorporate their Credit Essentials Certification course into the curriculum, so students can earn this credential before they graduate—another big step ahead for Bryant grads. Plans are in the works to add a new course on FinTech in 2022.
Grigelevich, who teaches the Credit Essentials course, has the unique perspective of Bryant student, alumnus, and now employer of Bryant graduates. He knows first-hand how Bryant graduates perform.
“What Bryant is doing with the Credit Essentials class is giving the students a hands-on, real world approach to how the credit department functions within a bank. Acquiring this skill set while in school it is giving them a leg up on others trying to break into the profession that have not had the opportunity to be formally credit trained,” he says.
Finance major (with a double minor in Applied Analytics and Psychology) Vahe Kafafian ’21 adds that “Finance students at Bryant are very passionate and offer unique perspectives that may be hard to find at other schools.”