Retail banking - The Student Room

Opportunities Available

This wiki article is based on my experience of one particular bank, other will be different but I’ll try and make this as all encompassing as I can. There are many opportunities available in this area. Not all of them are on the front line in a customer facing position. If you want to work on the front line on the high street you can, for example, start as a cashier or a ‘counsellor’.

Cashiers are usually the people behind the counters and take your cash from you to put into your accounts. They also might dispense cash from your account. There are lots of other things they do from giving people information about theis accounts, ordering cards and changing your preferences and dealing with the cash bought in from people with businesses. Another responsibility they have is spotting opportunites where the customer might benefit from other services the bank provides. They have a very important job in terms of security and making sure that fraud is spotted. To many people they are the ‘face’ of the bank and rather than using the many machines in the banking halls to pay in money and get statements, customers prefer to see the cashiers instead so that they can see a friendly face and have a bit of a chat about life, the weather, the economy or anything else that crosses their minds.

The role of a ‘counsellor’ can differ from bank to bank, as can the skill levels required for the job. In general they have a responsibility to asses a customers current financial situation and spot which products might benefit that customer and sell and give information on those products. In some banks they have an even more involved role where they assess someone’s whole circumstances and give advice.

Another role in Retail banking is the Bank Manager. Some people will work up to this role after time doing other roles in the bank, or they might have come in on a management training scheme, or graduate scheme. This is a difficult but rewarding role. You need to have people, management, leadership and organisational skills. There’s also a big element of problem solving, staying calm underpressure and dealing with sudden changes in situations. You will also be making sure that customers are happy and treated fairly by your team. You will be in charge of the whole branch not only out in the banking hall but also in the back office. In a larger branch you might have people who run these seperate areas for you and your role will be more of a bigger picture one.

There are also other administration roles in the branches such as the role of the branch ‘clerk’.

There might also be Relationship managers who look after the needs of high value customers.

Lastly, there are the Regulated Advisers. The roles are varied and include both personal and business specialities. They might only be able to sell that banks products, or be multi-tied (able to give advice on other selected products) or they might be independant and able to advise on products from the whole of market. Not only do these roles include conducting interviews with customers, they include a large amount of paperwork such as processing applications and writing reports. These advisors will take a long time getting to know a customer so that they can give the best possible advice, they will develop a deeper relationship with the customer than the ‘counsellor’ on the shop floor.

As with any company there are also support roles which i won’t go into in a lot of detail here. There are higher management positions for people in charge of the advisers and branch managers and, as is to be expected, the management structure just continues to go up and up. There are IT people, support officers who will handle the needs of all employees and of course the people who develop and administer training. There are also positions in both UK based call centres and those abroad.

Entry Requirments

Entry reqirements are varied. Some banks will take you straight from school and offer the chance to take further qualifications. For branch manager roles, a degree is usually the norm for someone new to the company. For many roles banks may even ask for previous sales experience (for example, working in a mobile phone shop). For regulated adviser roles there will normally be a requirement for prior sales experience and sometimes a degree, proffesional qualifications or both. Also there will be extra requirments such as no prior bankruptcy and a criminal record check may be carried out.

One of the series of proffessional qualifications you can take come from the IFS School of Finance, two of the most common are the Certificate for Financial Advisers (CeFA) and the Certificate of Mortgage Advice and Practise (CeMAP).

Both will cover UK and financial regulation as well as having an assesment of Advice Knowledge involving case studies. CeFA goes on to cover Investment and Risk, Retirement Planning and Protection. CeMAP covers all aspects of mortgages including the house selling process and repayment vehicles such as endownments.

However, proffessional qualifications will not necessarily allow you to go straight into a new job with an institution and start advising, you will also need to learn that institutions procedures and products too.

Future Trends

Yes the economy is worrying everyone at the moment and there have been job cuts. But at the end of the day people still need bank accounts and most of the facilities that the bank on the high street provides. People still need mortgage advice, now more than ever, as well as advice on their investments and protecting their income.

Job Hunting

There are a few routes into retail banking; the most common being to apply directly to the company, usually through their careers website. The other is to go through an agency and this is common for the regulated adviser roles. ‘Networking’ is also a route to take to finding a job. For example, if you go on a training course to attain a proffesional qualification, rather than by self study, the company who trains you will usually have contacts in the industry, or they might even employ advisers themselves.


Working in retail banking isn’t the easiest job out there. You need to be organised, have good time management skills and be able to prioritise. But it is also rewarding; especially when you make a customers day by saving them £100 per month on their mortgage. There’s plenty of opportunities for career progression and many different areas you can move into from administration, to management, to training.