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Every hour of every day and night around two million transactions go through the banking system in the UK.

With this colossal volume of transactions there is little room for error and banks naturally want to employ only the best people to protect and look after their customers’ needs.

Banking encompasses many different careers and the breadth of jobs in the industry is vast. Familiar front line customer-facing roles are certainly there, yet so are accountants, lawyers, HR and IT staff, together with many more jobs of a specialist nature. Whichever route your banking career takes you, it can be very rewarding, offering many opportunities for progression for people with the right attitude and who can use their initiative.

With such a wide range of sometimes quite complex products on offer, often with strict regulations about how they are promoted, sold and administered, bank staff need to be well-informed about the products and services they offer. Naturally, the bank will provide full training and individuals quickly become experts in specific types of products, such as mortgages, savings & investments and lending.

What’s it like to work in retail banking?

Working conditions in banks are good, but it’s not necessarily a nine-to-five job. It’s not unusual for a bank branch to open at 8.30am and to close late and customers banking by telephone expect a round-the-clock service every day of the year. Even internet banking needs real people to be on duty for customers who need help or guidance.

The pay is pretty good, but unless you’re really at the top of the tree you can forget a six-figure salary.  If you are ambitious you’ll have lots of opportunity to progress your career though and most jobs are advertised internally.  Staff are encouraged to make their own decisions on the direction that they want their career to go within the bank.

The main high street banks in the UK each have an extensive branch network and your career could take you to different parts of the country and beyond. Banking is international in nature and if you are a high-flyer, keen on travelling and want to work abroad then you could potentially find yourself working anywhere in the world.

Graduate entry into retail banking

Graduate-entry jobs in banking are highly sought after and each year an individual bank might receive thousands of applications for perhaps just a hundred or so places.  The selection process will typically be initially by email, followed by a telephone conversation and, for those who impress, a face to face interview.

Those who are successful at the interview will be invited to attend an assessment centre at which they, with others, will be required to perform a number of tasks. Their performance will be observed to determine how they interact with others, whether they contribute to the team effort and how they react under pressure.  Successful candidates can expect to be offered fast-track career development and during an initial six to 12 month period will taste various roles that match their skill set. Those who perform well can soon expect to gain a role at management level.

Although graduates come in at a higher level, they cannot rest on their laurels. Once they have reached a junior management position they are in direct competition with those who entered through a non-graduate route. From then on, promotion is based purely on the best person for the job.

Banking is not just for graduates. Many banks now offer modern apprenticeships and are keen to recruit people with a minimum of five A-C GCSE grades including English and maths. Entry into the bank is likely to be at local branch level and training will be provided for a variety of different roles. Those who have the aptitude will be encouraged to apply for more senior roles and could quite quickly find themselves in a supervisory or management position.

So whatever your career aspirations, there could well be a place for you in banking.  Why not ‘cheque’ it out on our employer A-Z page?

A full list of British Bankers’ Association member banks can be found at: www.bba.org.uk/about-us/member-list

More information on careers in financial services is available from the Financial Skills Partnership’s Directions service: www.directions.org.uk

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