What do banks do?

Put simply, banks provide services for people or organisations who want to borrow, lend and invest money. They are huge, complex organisations that play a part in the lives of people in every corner of the world, with clients ranging from individuals to businesses, and even the governments and central banks of entire countries.

Explore

Where could you fit in?

Banks work with vast amounts of money, every single day. But it’s a common misconception that you need to be a financial prodigy to work at one: just as important are regulatory experts, who make sure that institutions comply with the law in every country where they do business. And there’s a broad range of other specialists, from HR and finance to technology.

What is
Sales & Trading?

When people think of investment banking, they tend to imagine the trading floor. Although sales & trading is just one part of a bank’s work, it is where a lot of its commercial activity takes place.

In simple terms, traders buy and sell products like equity (stocks) and debt (bonds) and commodities (like oil and natural gas) and execute foreign exchange deals that make an incremental profit. Sales and trading can be broken down into the following roles:

Explore
Right for you?
Jargon Buster

Sales

Sales people are in touch with institutions and private individuals, suggesting appropriate trading activity. If, for example, a stock suddenly increases in value, or a publicly traded company makes a higher than expected earnings announcement, the sales force will inform investors and suggest the best course of action.

Jargon Buster

Research

Research analysts study specific companies and sectors to provide information that will help the sales team give the best possible advice to their clients. This information is communicated through reports that attach ‘buy’, ‘sell’, or ‘hold’ recommendations on their area of interest.

Jargon Buster

Trading

The actual buying and selling is done by traders acting on clients’ requests. A trader will tend to be an expert in a particular area (e.g. currency or bonds) and work to improve clients’ positions.

Jargon Buster

Structuring

Structuring teams provide products that are tailored to clients’ specialist needs. They might help an institutional investor offset the risk of a high-value trade, or a public company buy back some of its shares through financing.

"You have important decisions to make each day and you have to take such responsibility very seriously."

How will I get my head around all that jargon?

There’s certainly a lot to learn, but it’s there to make quick communication easy at critical times.

Is Sales & Trading right for you?

It’s the kind of job that many people imagine they’d enjoy, but the reality doesn’t suit everyone. Have you got what it takes?

What is
Corporate Finance?

Corporate Finance provides strategic advice and financial products that help clients build their businesses. Or to put it another way, they link institutions that need money to institutions that can provide it.

On behalf of its client, the bank will issue debt or shares, and sell it on the global market to pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds and private individuals. The money this raises can then be used to fund the client’s growth.

Roles in corporate finance can broadly be divided into two categories: client teams, who work with businesses directly to understand their needs, and product teams, who develop the solutions that meet them.

Explore
Right for you?
Jargon Buster

Mergers and acquisitions

In a merger, two companies of roughly similar size join together to create a larger entity, usually under a new name. In an acquisition, a larger company buys and absorbs a smaller one or runs it as a subsidiary. Depending on who they’re acting for, bankers will introduce buyers and sellers of companies to try and make a deal happen.

Jargon Buster

Equity capital markets

To raise extra money, a business can offer stock – a ‘share’ of itself – for sale to investors on the equity capital market. Capital markets are an essential part of the modern economy, bringing together buyers and sellers of equity assets.

Jargon Buster

Structured financing

Structured financing helps businesses to raise capital through the creation of loans designed to minimise risk. Instead of a debt issued based on an organisation’s balance sheet and credit rating, structured finance creates a security based on assets and sells it to investors.

Jargon Buster

Debt capital markets

Another means of raising money is through debt – usually in the form of bonds. Bankers working on debt capital markets provide businesses with advice on raising, refinancing, and restructuring this debt.

"I like the learning curve in Corporate Finance. You learn an awful lot from day one."

Do bankers tend to be aggressive or arrogant?

Don’t believe the stereotype – financial institutions do not tolerate toxic behaviour. You’re paid for what you contribute, not for having a big ego.

Is Corporate Finance right for you?

With a diverse range of work and clients all over the world, a career in Corporate Finance offers plenty of opportunity. Find out the kind of attributes you’ll need to be a success.

What is
Transaction Banking?

Sending money from one place to another is such a fundamental part of modern life that most people take it for granted – but it doesn’t happen by itself. The billions of transfers that happen all over the world every day are managed by the Transaction Banking Division.

But Transaction Banking isn’t just about shifting cash; it’s about using the bank’s liquidity to provide strategic solutions for clients, and making sure that the processes involved are streamlined and protected from financial crime. It's about helping small companies grow to become big companies and aiding international business to occur. It’s because this is so essential to keeping businesses running that banks have large teams of people dedicated to it.

Explore
Right for you?
Jargon Buster

What do we mean by ‘liquidity’?

Cash to hand – money in the bank. Being profitable isn’t the same as being liquid, and banks often provide businesses with support to maintain their liquidity and meet their obligations.

Jargon Buster

Trade Finance

When an importer has to pay for goods up front they can find themselves in an exposed position if something goes wrong or gets help up. Trade finance supports the flow of world trade by advancing loans to purchasers and protecting them against the risks that come with prepayment for large transactions.

Jargon Buster

What are Assets?

Used to describe anything with monetary value that is owned by an individual or business – such as shares, property or bonds.

Jargon Buster

Cash Management

This is about making the most effective use of the bank’s liquidity to help clients with cash flow. The bank can identify client money that’s not doing anything and suggest a place to put it, monitor exposure and reduce an organisation’s risk when cash is tight, and make sure that collections are made from debtors in good time.

Jargon Buster

Securities Services

Securities – bonds and shares – can be managed by a bank on a client’s behalf. This involves things like keeping a record of the investment and collecting dividends that are due. The bank can also take responsibility for sale process, making or collecting payments and transferring ownership of a security.

Jargon Buster

Capital Markets

When a business wants to raise money by issuing bonds or shares, it comes to a bank for help. The bank puts together information that helps investors decide whether or not they’re interested, prepares the securities to be issued, and deals with the regulator.

"Getting to see different countries and experience other cultures is a definite bonus."

Aren’t all bankers ruthless and money-oriented?

They work in a pressurized environment and they’re certainly focused and motivated, but bankers’ behaviour is highly regulated, and integrity is vitally important.

Is Transaction Banking right for you?

With a diverse range of work and clients all over the world, a career in Transaction Banking offers plenty of opportunity. Find out the kind of attributes you’ll need to be a success.

What is Asset Management?

In Asset Management, there’s one key objective: generating income for clients. This is done by directing a client’s capital into a range of investments, chosen carefully by balancing risk, opportunity, and other variables – from timeframes, to the other investments in a client’s portfolio.

On behalf of their clients, an Asset Management team might invest in stocks, bonds, property or the foreign exchange to help a client meet their investment goals. These are just some examples of common investments.

Explore
Right for you?
Jargon Buster

Within Asset Management, there are two sides to business:
Investments, and sales and distribution.

Investments

This is the ‘doing’ arm of Asset Management. Researchers, portfolio managers and traders work here, managing and making investments for clients.

Sales and Distribution

This arm of Asset Management positions and sells the investment services offered by the bank, and manages relationships with clients.

Jargon Buster

What are Assets?

Used to describe anything with monetary value that is owned by an individual or business – such as shares, property or bonds.

Jargon Buster

What is a Portfolio?

A collection of investments, including anything from shares and bonds, to property and art. To reduce risk, investors often try to diversify the investments in their portfolios.

What are
Equities?

Also known as stock; a stock is typically a ‘share’ of ownership in a company.

What are
Bonds?

Bonds are like loan agreements: an organisation issues bonds and receives money for them. In return, the bondholder receives interest on the money they have lent.

What is the
Foreign exchange?

Also known as forex or FX, the foreign exchange is the world’s largest financial market. Investors can buy, sell and exchange on international currencies.

What is
Property?

Compared to stocks and commodities, investing in residential or commercial properties can offer a steadier, more secure investment for investors.

"To be successful, you need to be genuinely passionate about your work. That’s something that’s hard to fake."

Will a job in
banking make
me millions?

You may earn more than in other industries, but a private jet might still be a stretch.

Is Asset Management right for me?

From working with the world’s largest investors, to being at the heart of global events, a career in Asset Management can be as exhilarating as it is rewarding – but it isn’t for everyone. Find out what qualities make for a great career in Asset Management, and what you should be aware of.

What is Private Banking
and Wealth Management?

Individuals with substantial wealth often have complex financial arrangements, and want to make sure that their asset portfolios are generating the best possible returns. They’ll work with a specialist advisor at a bank with in-depth knowledge of financial markets and investment opportunities who will understand their perspective and help them reach their goals.

Wealth managers work in a consultative way, getting advice from appropriate experts and offering appropriate products and solutions. Their services can be either discretionary or non-discretionary.

Explore
Right for you?
Jargon Buster

Wealth managers

Wealth management teams are divided into specialists who will typically include:

Jargon Buster

Relationship managers

Relationship managers are the main point of client contact. They will usually be an experienced investment advisor. They create and maintain strong relationships with clients, solving problems and listening to feedback.

Jargon Buster

Product specialists

These are typically experts in a particular asset class who will develop investment products and make them available to clients.

Jargon Buster

Investment managers

Investment managers make decisions about where investments are placed, and are ultimately responsible for how clients’ portfolios perform.

Discretionary

Clients hand over responsibility for executive portfolio management to the bank.

Non-discretionary

Clients receive advice from the bank, but make final decisions for themselves.

"My job gives me the opportunity to specialise and become an expert."

Will I be recognised as an individual within a large bank?

Despite their size, many banks offer support and guidance to employees and to help individuals reach their full potential.

Is Private Banking and Wealth Management right for me?

Managing the assets of some of the world’s wealthiest people is a fulfilling and challenging job – but their expectations can be high. This could be a great role for you if you are:

What is
Retail Banking?

Retail provides products and services like loans, mortgages and current accounts to individuals and small companies. It’s the kind of banking we think we all know, but there’s much more to it than high-street branches and call centres. It’s a huge, complex and competitive business where customers want the latest digital technology without losing access to personal advice.

Opportunities in retail range from front-line customer service and branch management to relationship management and product development. People with aptitude can progress quickly and will get the chance to study for professional qualifications.

Explore
Right for you?
Jargon Buster

Customer service

Working on the counter at a branch or in a contact centre, customer service teams are the first point of contact for the bank’s retail customers. They help with queries and problems, and refer them to the appropriate specialists.

Jargon Buster

Branch management

Branch managers are responsible for the commercial performance of their business unit, managing in-branch recruitment, setting targets for junior staff, and reporting on activity to the wider bank.

Jargon Buster

Product development

Product development teams make sure that the bank’s range of services – like credit cards, savings accounts and insurance – meets the changing demands of its customer base and are marketed appropriately.

Jargon Buster

Strategy

Strategy specialists analyse market conditions and competitor activity to see where the bank could gain an advantage. They also review the bank’s performance against its targets and produce reports and insight.

"If you enjoy interacting with people from all around the business, then you’d definitely find this area interesting."

Do you have to be a maths genius?

Numerical skills are useful, but there are roles in banking that call for people from all kinds of disciplines and many different skillsets.

Is Retail Banking right for me?

Retail Banking is fast-paced and you are often seen as the face of the Bank if you work in branch. Find out the kind of attributes you’ll need to be a success.

What is
Technology?

The right technology can give one bank the edge over the competition, and plays a big part in compliance with regulations that get tougher every year. It’s not about IT support – which most banks outsource – but about emerging trends set to transform the industry like Blockchain and AI, and the increasing significance of the Cloud. That’s why institutions invest vast sums in tech and employ tens of thousands of people to develop and maintain it.

It’s most evident on the trading floor, where it makes trades faster, more competitive, and more profitable. But technology, and making technology better, is crucial to every part of a bank.

Explore
Right for you?
Jargon Buster

Bitcoin & Blockchain

Bitcoin is a worldwide, open-source digital currency. Because payments take place peer-to-peer, without regulation by a central authority, a common record of transactions is kept on a decentralised network known as Blockchain.

Jargon Buster

Cloud

Cloud computing allows users of global banks to access new and upgraded software wherever they’re based, eliminating the need for large, costly IT infrastructure. The speed at which banks can evaluate and adopt new tools and applications can also be hugely increased.

Isn’t technology at a big bank just a support role?

The world of finance is changing fast, and technology is a major catalyst for this change. This means there’s masses of innovation taking place at banks to keep them competitive, with the best banks are investing heavily in technologists. This makes them great places to develop your career.

"We have a diverse mix of people working in technology."

Jargon Buster

AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) could transform banks’ front- and back-office operations, reducing response times to customer queries, improving fraud detection, and automating investment decisions by aggregating thousands of variables and potential outcomes in seconds.
Jargon Buster

Algorithmic trading

Algorithmic trading is the use of self-contained mathematical formulas to make complex decisions about trading (based on conditions in price and timing) much faster than a human brain is capable of.

Developers

Developers create new applications and software to be used by the bank, or adapt software that’s been acquired from a third party to the needs of their institution. They work on everything from retail customer-facing mobile banking aps to applications that use financial modelling to help traders make better decisions.

Service Management

Service Management teams are hands-on technicians, supporting the Banks functional teams and leveraging their expertise to ensure best-in-class Service Management. From monitoring and tracking production data to supporting the resolution of issues, their insights and input help advance the banking industry.

Analysts

Business analysts assess existing systems and develop proposals for new requirements. They’ll often manage a project through development, running a team of developers and dealing with third-party suppliers. It’s up to them to troubleshoot problems that come up in testing, and hand over a robust new product to the rest of the business.

QA Testing

Analyzing requirements, writing test cases and creating test data are just a few things QA Testing teams do to ensure products uphold the highest standards. From planning and strategy to analysis and reporting, this team watches their work come to life in a way that drives banking forward.

Is Technology right for you?

Banking technology isn’t about IT support – it’s a challenging, competitive function that’s set to grow in size and importance. If you’re thinking about a career in tech, these are the kinds of qualities you’ll need.

What is
Infrastructure?

Front-line banking is made possible by a diverse mix of specialists in infrastructure and support roles. Like every large business, banks have people responsible for human resources and accounting, as well as functions specific to financial services like risk and regulation. Some will have begun their careers in banking, but many will have crossed over from a similar role in a different industry. And as banks become more heavily regulated, they depend more heavily on teams of specialists in compliance

Explore
Jargon Buster

What is regulation, compliance and anti-financial crime?

While Anti-financial Crime the Legal division concentrates on keeping the bank to the letter of the law, compliance focuses on the operational side of the bank’s activities, ensuring that it’s working in line with the regulations that govern financial services businesses in the countries where it does businesses. Areas of responsibility include:

  • Regulator management:building a relationship with regulators to ensure banks are complying and accurately responding to regulatory requests
  • Anti-financial crime:adherence and policy management for anti-fraud, bribery & corruption, anti-money laundering and sanctions & embargoes
  • Training:Global delivery of mandatory bank-wide training for employees on key compliance topics
  • Legal responsibilities:keeping banks appraised and compliant with all new regulations and laws around the world
  • Monitoring:watching bank activity for questionable activity
Jargon Buster

What is Operations?

Operations makes sure the bank’s business is carried out efficiently, on time, and without risk. It’s largely concerned with Sales & Trading, and the millions of transactions that take place there every day. Its main responsibilities include:

  • Trade processing and support:clearing, settling and documenting every trade
  • Market:promoting smooth internal data communication
  • Investment:supervising and servicing activities while reporting on transactions
  • Operational:advising and communicating with clients on transactions they’ve made with the bank
Jargon Buster

What is Treasury?

In simple terms, a bank’s Treasury is responsible for looking after its money. This means making sure there’s cash available when it’s needed and that funds can be raised to help the bank meet its obligations and do business in the normal way. It focusses on:

  • Liquidity:converting assets into cash without incurring a loss, and stress testing to make sure the bank’s position weather a sudden shift in the economy
  • Capital:managing the bank’s cash and getting it to where it’s needed
  • Funding:raising extra funds for the bank – for example by issuing bonds
Jargon Buster

What is Finance?

Separate from the financial services work they undertake for their clients, banks must monitor their profitability, produce financial statements and do their own accounting. The services they perform include:

  • Business control:running processes that promote efficiency and profitability
  • Reporting:providing data to regulators
  • Risk control:making sure the bank doesn’t expose itself to unnecessary risk
  • Valuation:setting prices for the bank’s products and services
Jargon Buster

What is Human Resources?

Human Resources (HR) makes operational and strategic decisions about the bank’s current and future workforce, attracting, recruiting and retaining talented people, making sure they’re properly trained and ensuring that people are treated fairly. Their main areas of responsibility include:

  • Recruitment:hiring the best employees to meet the demands of the business
  • Training & Development:ensuring employees have access to training and development opportunities throughout their careers
  • Compensation and benefits:managing salaries, perks and bonuses
  • Employee relations:resolving disputes while observing correct processes
  • HR advice:acting as consultants on strategic HR issues to senior management
  • Regulations:setting and communicating company rules
  • Internal mobility & redeployment:creating opportunities to retain and redeploy talented employees
Jargon Buster

What is Risk Management?

Market crashes, IT failures, even wars and natural disasters – risk management’s role is to predict the likelihood and potential impact on the business of something going wrong and put guidelines and procedures in place to help the bank recover. Roles in risk management include:

  • Credit:working on the bank’s internal credit approval and monitoring service
  • Market:studying shifts in the market and assessing their impact on the bank’s trading
  • Investment:assessing risks associated with entities the bank buys or invests in
  • Operational:assessing internal risks like system failures and fraud