Retail bankers help individuals manage their money and provide advice and financial services and products

As a retail banker, you will be involved in:

  • assisting in the movement of money via payment mechanisms
  • authorising loans and overdraft facilities
  • setting up saving accounts and bonds.

Although you'll often be dealing with individuals, some banks include business banking in their retail banking division.

As a manager of a retail bank you'll have responsibility for the day-to-day operations and strategic management of your branch, and will be expected to increase the sale of financial products and services, attract new customers and manage a team of staff.

Private banking is a sub-section of retail banking, which typically covers individuals with a high net worth - often defined as those with more than £1million to invest.

Retail banking is also known as consumer banking.

Responsibilities

Being a manager of a retail bank branch is similar to other management roles. You'll be responsible for:

  • managing, recruiting, and coaching teams of people
  • dealing with customer complaints that can't be solved by front-line staff
  • implementing new products, services and processes devised by head office
  • dealing with more complicated customer queries and requests, which may include reviewing their financial circumstances
  • representing the bank within the wider community and building relevant contacts
  • opening and closing the branch daily and ensuring that the premises are fit for business
  • meeting sales targets and managing budgets
  • writing reports and keeping financial and statistical records.

Responsibilities for bankers at a more junior level may include:

  • dealing with customer queries face to face, over the telephone or in writing
  • serving customers at the counter
  • processing payments and withdrawals
  • understanding customer needs, recommending suitable products and making sales
  • processing paperwork from sales, including change of customer details and closure of accounts
  • learning about new products, services and processes.

Salary

  • On a graduate management trainee programme you could earn in the region of £18,000 to £25,000, with the possible addition of a joining bonus and other bonuses and benefits while training.
  • After training, salaries can rise to anywhere from £21,000 to £40,000, with bonuses for your first branch management role.
  • Senior managers may earn in the region of £40,000 to £60,000, with those in regional offices and specialist management roles earning above this. In a central management role, you may earn in excess of £80,000.

In addition to bonuses, many employers offer a range of benefits including private healthcare, contributory pension, share schemes and life insurance.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You'll typically work 9am to 5pm, but if you work in a branch you may also do shifts on a Saturday depending on its opening hours. Those on management teams, including graduate trainees, may be expected to work extra hours and be flexible to ensure that service levels are maintained.

If you work in phone or internet banking, you may be expected to work shift patterns to provide the 24-hour banking that customers expect.

Part-time, flexible working and career break opportunities are possible.

What to expect

  • Retail bankers often work in a branch - meeting customers face to face and directing operations from the offices out of the way of the public. However, banking services are increasingly offered over the phone and via the internet. You may instead work in an open-plan office or in rows of staff at a call centre. Whatever the case, bankers spend a lot of time on the phone or in meetings.
  • Most large towns have a number of bank branches, and phone and internet banking service centres are situated throughout the country. This means that there are opportunities all over the UK, though they are typically concentrated in major towns and cities. There are no opportunities for self-employment in retail banking.
  • Women are still underrepresented in senior management positions. There are, however, a range of initiatives, such as Women in Banking & Finance, that aim to encourage the potential of women in this career area.
  • If you work in a branch then you're likely to be provided with a uniform. Other roles tend to require smart business dress.
  • You may cover a number of branches, so you'll need to travel between them. You'll also have to attend regular area and regional meetings and may be required to attend local business and charitable functions. The opportunity for international travel is rare in retail banking, but some multinational banks will offer the chance to move overseas.

Qualifications

Graduate management training programmes are widely available in retail banking. They're open to all graduates - you don't need to have a finance-related degree to be considered.

Retail banks usually require you to have a 2:2 or above, while some require at least a 2:1.

Although a specific subject is not required, particularly helpful degrees include:

  • accounting and finance
  • banking and finance
  • business management/business studies
  • economics
  • law
  • marketing
  • mathematics.

If you don't have a degree you may be able to join a bank in an entry-level customer service role and work up to management level through in-house management courses, some of which are fast-track programmes.

It's also possible to take an apprenticeship, combining paid work with part-time study. Apprenticeships in financial services and banking are available at a range of levels, including degree-level. For more information, see Top UK banking apprenticeships.

Although a pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not usually required, there are a range of banking-related Masters courses available. Search postgraduate courses in banking and finance.

Skills

You will need to have:

  • customer service skills
  • verbal and written communication skills
  • interpersonal skills
  • flexibility and the ability to adapt to changes in the short and long term
  • analytical skills
  • commercial awareness and business acumen
  • leadership skills and the ability to motivate a team
  • management and coaching skills
  • attention to detail
  • general IT, administration and numerical skills.

Work experience

Pre-entry work experience in a financial environment is desirable. This may include:

  • vacation work
  • sandwich placements
  • internships and temporary or permanent work experience.

Many of the large banks provide internships over the summer for penultimate year students. If you do well during an internship, you may be considered for the organisation's graduate training scheme.

Experience of customer service, and sales and marketing work experience will also help strengthen your application. Communication and customer service skills and being able to meet financial targets are useful skills to develop through work experience.

Employers

There are a number of banks and building societies with branches on the high street. Some of the large banking organisations include:

  • Barclays
  • The Co-operative Bank
  • Halifax
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Bank
  • Nationwide Building Society
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander.

In recent years, some banks have closed, downsized, merged with others or outsourced their services, but branch management roles and graduate training schemes are still available.

There are now increasing opportunities to work for online banks and supermarkets offering banking services. These include M&S Bank, Tesco Bank and Sainsbury's Bank, although some don't offer traditional current accounts.

Some banking services are run without branches and instead offer a combination of telephone and online banking, such as First Direct.

Look for job vacancies at:

You can also check the local, national and financial press as well as websites of individual banks.

Professional development

As a new employee you'll usually go through an induction process to train you in the products and services that the bank offers. This training will also cover customer and risk management.

Regular training is carried out to keep staff members up to date with any changes to products.

If you're on a graduate management scheme, you'll follow a structured training programme. This typically involves spending some time in the branch so you understand the role of the staff you're managing. It involves learning about related services such as credit cards, loans and small business banking. You'll also spend time in regional offices.

The programme will usually include taking some professional banking qualifications. You can also take professional qualification if you aren't on a graduate scheme and want to progress to management level.

For a range of qualifications, including the Diploma in Retail Banking Conduct of Business and the Professional Diploma in Banking and Finance, see The London Institute of Banking & Finance.

The Chartered Banker Institute also offers a range of banking qualifications. You can also gain chartered banker status through a combination of professional qualifications and experience.

It's important to keep up to date with any changes in the banking and finance industry. A range of events, conferences and training workshops are run throughout the year by UK Finance.

Career prospects

If you're on a graduate scheme, you'll usually go into a management role upon successful completion of the scheme.

If you aren't part of a graduate management scheme, with experience and professional qualifications, your career could take the route of:

  • team leader
  • assistant manager of a department or branch
  • branch manager
  • regional manager.

Progression onto senior branch manager of a large branch or group of small branches is usually an option, followed by regional management where you'll support a number of regional branch managers. It's also possible to move out of branch management and into a head office role.

Some bank managers choose to specialise in areas such as:

  • finance and compliance
  • fraud prevention and detection
  • legal
  • recruitment and training.

You may move banks in order to progress or you might move into other financial roles such as insurance. There may also be opportunities to work for the bank's overseas division.

Other retail areas, such as supermarket management or general management of a call centre or large store, are also open to retail bank managers.

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