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I work in a bank and I have always wondered why our relationship managers, i.e. sales representatives, are commonly referred to as "the platforms," or "the platform officers."

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This sounds like something that is specific to your bank. Every company has its own jargon for certain departments or functions. –  Chenmunka Mar 16 at 7:39
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Thank you for your reply, Chenmunka. I first learned about the term when I was working at KeyBank. KeyBank is one of the major banks in upstate New York. Two years ago I moved to the west coast. My current employer is U.S.Bank and although they use "bankers" to refer to the sales rep here, my colleagues all can understand what I mean when I call them "the platform." –  Chi Wei Borst Mar 16 at 21:20
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Further more, one of the managers who used to work at Wells Fargo confirms that "the platform" is what they use there. This link shows various advertisement containing the phrase "platform officers," which leads me to think that the term is used quite commonly. proz.com/kudoz/spanish_to_english/bus_financial/… –  Chi Wei Borst Mar 16 at 21:21
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@Chenmunka: "Platform officer" has been used for 100 years in banks. See my answer. –  Hugo Mar 19 at 10:52
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1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

A platform officer is a banker who advises the public with the bank's accounts and services, and helps arrange them. The term dates back to at least the early 20th century.

AllBusiness.com's Business Glossary says:

The term platform originated in the period when banking officers sat at desks on a platform slightly elevated above the main banking floor, but today is used to describe the customer service area in a bank's lobby.

These officers are also known as platform officers, or as in your bank, platforms for short.

Here's a job ad from The Miami News, Feb 13, 1971 showing it's a front-of-house customer-services job:

BANK PLATFORM OFFICER

A local national bank has immediate need for experienced general banker. To qualify for this position applicants should nave of 5 years experience and be adept at meeting and dealing with public.

From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Jan 23, 1969:

Patricia Davis has been promoted to assistant cashier and will serve as a platform officer.


The following are Google Books snippets and the years may be wrong but they look plausible.

Banking: Journal of the American Bankers Association, Volume 50, Part 2, 1958

PLATFORM OFFICER SERVICE — Opens new account. Advises as to, and arranges for any service.

The Bankers Magazine - Volume 128 - Page viii, 1934:

... bank employee who wonders if he will ever get to be a platform officer, his struggles towards that end notwithstanding.

Trust Companies - Volume 67 - Page 25, 1938:

... for direct mail, or armed with letters of introduction from the "front platform" officer who "contacts" the big loan applicant.

Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of St. Paul - Page 533, 1917:

... Expense to be charged to Health Fund Public Paths Account Salary Account: 1 Platform officer at $900.00 per year, ...

Annual Report - Page 29, Saint Paul (Minn.). Bureau of Health, ‎Saint Paul (Minn.). Dept. of Health, ‎Saint Paul (Minn.). Commissioner of Health - 1915:

Watchmen and policemen 1,702.00
Laborers 2.531.92
Carpenter 214.00
Painters 693.87
Concrete inspector 15.00
General superintendent of pavilion 455.00
Three cashiers 312.17
Electrician 490.00
Engineer 272.00
Platform officer 257.50 ...

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+1 for the first link. IMO the rest is superfluous. –  Mari-Lou A Mar 19 at 12:04
    
Thanks! The first explains the origin. The rest are just to show the job title has been in use constantly for about a hundred years (the first comment (with two upvotes) on the question thought it's specific to one bank, and it's clearly not). –  Hugo Mar 19 at 14:04
    
Yes, I got that too, but those multiple references overwhelm and in the end, bury, the "answer". But that's just my opinion. BTW I have never heard of a "platform officer" until today. I learnt something new today :) –  Mari-Lou A Mar 19 at 14:13
    
Yes, new to me too! –  Hugo Mar 19 at 18:09
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