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How to get into banking and what to expect

Thinking of a new career in banking? Here’s what you need to know about skills, salary, what to expect on the job and more.

The Banking sector covers many areas of work – and don’t think they are only looking for people with degrees, because they are not. You may very well have the skills they are looking for.

What skills do I need?

There are many transferrable skills for roles in Banking. These include:

  • an attention to detail
  • strong organisational skills
  • good computer skills
  • good customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • strong numeracy skills

What types of roles are available?

Here are some examples of the types of job roles available:

  • Bank branch customer service advisors and managers
  • Service centre customer service advisors and managers
  • Web chat advisors
  • Digital support
  • IT support
  • Specialist banking advisors – mortgages, loans etc.
  • Head Office roles – including HR, Finance, Marketing

What qualifications and experience do I need?

Some retail bank professionals are expected to have at least four GCSEs grades 9-4/A*-C or their equivalent, with passing grades in English and Maths.  Commonly they start in a general customer services role, helping the bank’s customers with their requirements. As they progress, you can choose to specialise in certain types of product or even customer relations.

Retail bank professionals can work their way up to be branch or Service Centre managers and can even be promoted to senior management roles.

Graduates

Many employers have graduate schemes, internships and higher apprenticeships in place for a number of roles within the sector.

What does the sector offer me?

  • All levels of apprenticeships are available
  • In house training is usually available to gain promotion – most banks prefer to train and promote their own staff – so the only way is up.
  • If you’re looking for flexible work, part-time positions are often available

What can I expect?

  • The range of opportunities: the UK banking sector is huge. Working for a bank is so varied, it could mean working in head office in marketing, HR or in any number of other roles including IT.
  • Progression: as banking organisations are so large, there is always the chance to progress through the organisation into other roles. Jobs are often advertised internally first, so once you’re into an organisation you will be the first to know about vacancies.
  • Training: Banks are well known for having well-trained staff so whatever your job role, you’ll be given the skills you need to do the job and many of these skills can be transferred to other industries should you decide to move on.
  • Benefits and salary: Banking salaries are competitive and large bank employers often offer excellent additional benefits such as private healthcare and discounts with large retail chains. Bank employees are also often able to get discounts on mortgages, loans and credit cards from their employer after a set period.
  • Prestige: Banking is seen as a desirable and prestigious career and is considered to be more secure than other sectors such as retail or fashion.

Things you may need to consider

  • Background checks may be required: Certain occupations in banking require police checks into the applicant’s background. This is similar to DBS checking and means that people with convictions for fraud, thefts and other offences may be barred from taking a job handling cash or with responsibility for cash.
  • Fast rate of change: Retail banking has been transformed over the past decade with digital technology. This pace of change isn’t going to slow, and it’s probably not the career for you if you like things to be calm and stable.
  • Your numeracy: Working with numbers all day isn’t for everyone, and many more creative people find it restrictive and boring if their roles is constricted by rules and regulations.

What about the pay?

This will depend on where you work, what type of role, and your level of experience when you commence your employment.

You might work full or part-time and be paid in accordance with how many hours you work per week.  You will always be paid the national minimum/living wage (external website) for the average of the hours that you work in a pay period. Salaries can increase rapidly if you gain professional qualifications.

You can also increase your basic wage with company bonuses and there are good opportunities for progression. Some banks offer further employee benefits, such as private healthcare, pension plans and sports club membership.

As you gain qualifications and experience your salary can increase.

Some interesting facts about British banks

  • They employ 0.5 million people
  • Banks and financial services contribute £70bn to the UK’s national output (6.8% of GDP)
  • Banks and financial services provide 25% of total corporation tax (£8bn) to the UK Government
  • The main retail banks provide over 125m accounts, clear 7bn transactions a year and facilitate 2.3bn cash withdrawals per year from its network of over 30,000 free ATMs
  • Banks provide banking services to 95% of the UK’s population
  • The value of foreign exchange business passed through London every day is £560bn ($1 trillion)

Ready to apply? For further information about this sector please use the links below:   

Find a job (external website)
Prospects (external website)
National Careers Service (external website)

Or visit the recruitment websites of the top 10 largest UK Retail Banks

  1. HSBC (external website)  
  2. Royal Bank of Scotland (external website)  
  3. Lloyds Banking Group (external website)
  4. Halifax (external website) (owned by Lloyds Banking Group)
  5. Bank of Scotland (external website) (owned by Lloyds Banking Group)
  6. Barclays (external website)
  7. Santander (external website)
  8. Co-operative (external website)
  9. Nationwide (external website) (Classed as building society)
  10. TSB (external website)