Retail banking


There are approximately 1.2 million employees of the retail banking industry in the UK. Made up of banks, building societies and, more recently, supermarkets (and other retail businesses) roles tend to be within branch or call centres.

There are around 12000 high street banks in the UK which offer great opportunities for graduates to gain employment in the financial sector. Essentially roles in retail banking will involve working with individuals, the general public or small businesses.

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Routes in

Graduate training schemes and internships

Gaining an internship can give you a clear idea about if working in retail banking is for you, but is also a good way for successful students to be fast tracked to interviews for graduate training schemes. Graduate training schemes exist in customer management or branch management, with some opportunities in corporate banking and operational roles, including marketing and IT. The following retail banks offer competitive graduate training schemes and/or internship positions:

Insight days

Many banks run insight days for first year undergraduate students (check your suitability with individual employers, some may allow 2nd, 3rd or masters students), to give them an insight into what a career in retail banking may consist of. Sometimes these are run alongside insight days into investment banking or other banking functions. They are often a feeder for internship interviews and are a good networking opportunity. Just make sure you show you are engaged, commercially aware and willing to ask questions.

Get experience

Another competitive market will require that you have experience either instead or as well as your internship and/or insight day. Other experience can come from extra curricular activities, volunteering or positions of responsibility.

Job roles

Branch manager

In charge of the day to day management of a bank’s branch, the branch manager will also ensure its operational fluidity, the hiring and training of staff and will ensure targets are met. They are also responsible for overseeing the lending of money to customers before approved by the bank’s credit department. Trainee positions are available.

Corporate banker

You will work closely with small and medium sized businesses to manage their day to day finances, including payments, salaries and loan applications. You may also give advice on their business plans. You would work consistently with specific clients to give them tailored, personal advice. In order to do this you would need to keep abreast of the financial market to recommend the best financial services for their needs.

Financial adviser

Works with customers to advise them on the best financial products for their needs. They may be an independent financial adviser or work within a bank to provide the service for the bank’s customers. Customers will range in their requirements, with financial advisers working with high-net individuals who require a very personal service. They would advise on mortgages, insurance, savings and bonds and pensions having an in-depth knowledge of their bank’s market or wider financial products if independent.

Customer service adviser

This could be in the form of a cashier in branch or a customer service adviser on the telephone. You would need to know the bank inside out in order to promote and recommend products to customers, and to give indicate the best person for them to speak to to answer their query. You will need to have good interpersonal and problem solving skills to deal with various customers and in order to placate complaints. With banks being criticised for their lack of customer service this should be a huge growth area in the years to come.

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