- Search Graduate Jobs
- Browse Employers
- Careers Advice
- Singapore's 100
- Log in
- Sign up
Banking and Financial Services
Wealth Management: Graduate Area of Work
Wealth managers play an important role as trusted advisers across a range of financial issues.
Wealth management jobs are configured towards those who wish to deal with high net-worth clients. Aside from providing professional services in investment advice, wealth management also comprises of services in financial advice, banking, accounting and tax services, retirement planning and legal or estate planning.
This area of work involves a holistic approach to all parts of a person’s financial life and allows high net-worth individuals to have a single wealth manager to coordinate all the financial services needed to manage their assets, as well as meet their families’ current and future financial needs.
Not all wealth managers work in banks – wealth manager roles are most commonly found in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and some may even be self-employed. In banks, wealth managers typically only recommend financial products provided by the bank they work for, instead of products available on the whole market.
As a graduate in this field, you will generally start off with a role in a company’s back office as an administrator or a paraplanner. Administrators are involved in supporting the company’s business whereas paraplanners are involved in researching about the best products on the market to recommend clients. Gradually, you’ll rise up the ranks and progress into a wealth manager role.
Alternatively, you may enrol yourself into a graduate scheme. It is also possible for individuals to switch from their professions in accountancy, law and other financial services sales to wealth management.
Although recruiters accept applications from all disciplines, a numerate degree such as economics, accounting and finance can put you at an advantage. Business and law degrees, as well as courses in risk management, investment and taxation will also catch recruiters’ eyes.
As a graduate wealth manager, you should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills as the role will largely be client-facing in nature. You’ll need to be able to explain complicated matters in a simple and clear manner to clients.
Analytical skills are also essential to land a role in wealth management as you are responsible in formulating the most suitable advice to your clients’ problems and situation. As the role comprises of numerical aspects, you must also possess solid mathematical abilities.
Ups and downs
Wealth managers can sometimes experience a great level of stress especially at the start of their careers. As the financial services industry is highly dependent on domestic and global markets, clients reach out to their wealth managers when economies perform poorly. During such times, clients may sometimes be emotional, which can induce a high level of stress among wealth managers.
However, the greatest thing about being a wealth manager is to be able to guide clients towards making sound decisions that could lead to great success in a client’s financial life. You can thus derive great satisfaction from your career as your clients’ success will reflect your own success as a wealth manager.
Submitted by Carmen Teh on Fri, 2017-05-26 16:52
Get all the advice you need to kickstart your career in Banking & Financial Services!
Featured Banking & Financial Services Employers
Banking & Financial Services Areas of Work
Banking & Financial Services
Risk Management: Graduate Area of Work
Risk managers help companies to navigate through financial uncertainty and potential risks.
Risk managers help organisations avoid losses by analysing, advising, and managing potential risks on their behalf. Through close observation of the company’s risk appetite, financial limits, and business parameters, they ensure that businesses avoid running into financial risks such as fraud, as well as market, credit, liquidity, operational, and health and safety risks.
As a risk manager, a big part of your responsibilities will revolve around conducting detailed research and risk assessments for your clients, which means you’ll be spending a lot of time poring over documents, reports, statistics, and market trends.
Risk managers are usually hired by banks and insurance organisations, as well as commercial businesses such as engineering and energy companies.
Graduates typically get on board through rotational graduate schemes, where you get the chance to experience a variety of roles before specialising in one. Most executives will start out as part of a small team, and pick up essential skills on the job as they assist their colleagues with their tasks.
Graduate employees are also typically assigned mentors to guide them along in their work and oversee their progress within the organisation.
While most of your training will be done on the job, there is also a range of external training courses available for career advancement purposes. You would also need to acquire professional qualifications if you intend to specialise in particular areas of work, including technology or fraud.
The job scope can be very diverse from the get-go – one day, you could be meeting clients and surveying sites, and the next, writing reports and helping out in making preventative recommendations.
Employers generally have a preference for applicants with industry-relevant degrees – such as business, law, economics, or management.
Many employers are also given increasing importance to seeing relevant work experience in a potential candidate’s résumé, so obtaining an internship could give you a leg up in this sector.
In terms of soft skills, it’s vital that you develop excellent interpersonal and communication skills as you’ll be expected to work with people from diverse backgrounds. At the same time, you’ll need to have good problem-solving and analytical skills, as well as a good eye for detail.
Having good negotiation skills, commercial awareness, and the ability to be forward-thinking are immensely important as well.
Ups and downs
Risk managers must be prepared to work under great pressure and stress, especially in times of crisis. Work can also be extremely fast-paced and you would need to be highly adaptable to succeed in the sector’s quickly-changing environment.
That said, many risk managers enjoy their role because of the excitement that comes with the diversity of the day-to-day tasks.
Retail Banking: Graduate Area of Work
The retail banking sector mainly involves serving customers in their daily financial needs.
Retail banks provide consumers and small businesses with a variety of financial products and services that range from bank and savings accounts, mortgages, loans, personal credit products, as well as remittance services.
Some retail banks also offer services such as stock brokerage, insurance, wealth management, and private banking – although these are usually delivered through another division or an affiliate of the bank.
However, with the finance industry rapidly adopting FinTech (financial technology) innovations and solutions, it has become necessary for retail banks to continuously adapt their services and facilities in order to sufficiently serve their customers.
This includes rethinking features such as mobile banking services, online security measures, new products and collaborations, as well as customer service.
As most sectors of the finance industry, the retail banking sector is constantly being regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
There are diverse opportunities for graduates in retail banking, ranging from risk management and compliance to marketing and IT. Most major banks typically run specialised graduate programmes to recruit potential candidates to their function of choice. Management associate programmes are also especially popular.
Most graduate programmes offered are rotational in nature, and will span a total of two years, where you get the opportunity to experience the different areas of work within the department and to gain a an understanding of the organisation’s business as a whole.
Besides learning about your role on-the-job and through formal training programmes, you may also be attached to a mentor to guide you along your various responsibilities as you move from one department to another. Upon graduating from the programme, you will be assigned to the role that best suits you.
Also, depending on your programme, you may be put in charge of managing small-scale projects, be involved in creating new products and services, providing technical support to your colleagues/other divisions, or handling customers on the ground.
In most cases, most candidates will work a regular 9-to-5 shift, but certain roles may require you to pull the graveyard or weekend shift.
The career path for graduates working in this sector can be very diverse due to the sheer variety of products offered by each bank.
Career advancement can take place vertically – where you climb up the corporate ladder to take on managerial positions – or horizontally – where you transition from managing products such as mortgages and personal loans to a different division, e.g. private banking.
You can also consider obtaining professional diplomas or other qualifications to help you with your career progression. It is also a good idea to consult your mentor for ideas on how you can go about developing your career.
Employers in this sector generally welcome graduates from any education background – unless the position requires specific technical skills. To be a stand-out applicant in this highly competitive sector, you should focus instead on developing your soft skills. In particular, develop the ability to manage well, teamworking ability, and communication and interpersonal skills.
Good customer-facing skills is also tremendously important as a big part of your job scope will revolve around assisting customers in their queries. Aside from that, having excellent organisational and management skills will also stand you in good stead, as will commercial awareness.
Ups and downs
The retail banking sector is fast-paced and exciting, and offers a relatively good work-life balance. In addition to that, excellent benefits such as lucrative year-end and additional bonuses, as well as varied growth opportunities, make working in this sector extremely attractive.
That said, be aware that this sector can be relatively stressful, especially during crunch time such as the launch of a new product. You may also find the working environment to be quite structured, with plenty of red tapes in place.
Insurance: Graduate Area of Work
The insurance sector is highly diverse and offers a constantly changing work environment.
Careers in the insurance industry can be immensely wide-ranging, but they ultimately revolve around the safeguarding of an entity’s financial assets when an unexpected occurrence happens.
There are diverse positions that graduates can expect to start out in this industry. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Graduate underwriter
Underwriters are responsible for determining a client’s eligibility for a policy, additional terms and conditions part of the plan, as well as the amount of premium to be paid by the client.
- Claims management trainee
As part of the insurance claims department, you’ll be involved in assessing the validity of submitted claims, as well as liaising with policyholders to ensure that the repayment process is completed efficiently.
- Trainee loss adjuster
Loss adjusters share a relatively similar job scope with insurance claims handlers – e.g. checking the validity of a claim, establishing the causes of a loss, etc. – except they typically work as an independent third party, and are attached to specialist practices instead of insurance companies.
Insurers generally seek the services of loss adjusters, instead of claims managers, for more complex claims.
- Business development, business finance, and sales graduate roles
The responsibilities for this position varies according to the employer’s area of speciality, but working in the business division typically involves a mix of duties such as promoting services to potential clients, as well as identifying and following up on new opportunities.
- Graduate insurance broker
Insurance brokers help clients match their needs with the most suitable insurance products for the best premiums.
- Trainer actuary
Actuaries help their clients to forecast, manage, and advise on financial risks through the application of financial and statistical theories.
- Graduate product manager
Product managers at insurance companies are responsible for creating, testing, and launching new insurance products for potential customers. Their responsibilities may include market research, sales forecasting, as well as regulatory compliance.
- Operations management
In this role, you will be primarily responsible for managing and encouraging the customer service department.
- Support functions
Insurers will require a variety of other expertise to support their core business, such as technology specialists, marketing, and HR personnel.
Your main employer will probably be insurance companies, but insurance brokerage, retail banks, and supermarkets are very welcoming of graduates as well. You may also want to consider specialist consultancies, where they carry out very specific roles, such as specialising in life insurance or loss adjustment.
Most large employers offer training/graduate schemes to help you adapt to your new working environment. The schemes are usually rotational to provide diverse experiences to help you understand the company better. Others, on the other hand, will rely on on-the-job training, and formal/informal mentorship programmes from senior team members.
Variety of products
The type of work involved in your role also greatly depends on the employer’s area of speciality in terms of the products offered. The following are the main types of insurance products:
- General insurance
This encompasses the different types of insurance policies save one – life insurance.
- Commercial/corporate insurance
This is crafted specifically for business organisations, protecting them against unforeseen events such as theft, property damage, liability, or other disruptions to their day-to-day operations.
- Life insurance
Life insurance is purchased as a form of financial protection and aid for named beneficiaries in the case of a premature death.
- Personal insurance
This consists of a range of insurance contracts that protects an individual financially in the event of a misfortune. Common examples of this type of insurance include policies for personal automobiles, properties, and illnesses.
This is purchased for insurers and acts as a risk management strategy for them. For instance, when an insurer foresees itself encountering a financial strain due to an unexpectedly large payout for his/her clients, they may opt for reinsurance as a method to mitigate that risk.
Remember, though, that the insurance industry is always expanding, and that these are only basic products. To score at job interviews with insurers, it’s important that you read up on other unique offerings that the company is involved in as well.
Employers in this industry value graduates with skills such as the ability to react promptly, numeracy, good attention to detail, and great client-facing skills.
Generally, most employers will state a preference for numerate or business/management-related degrees. While this is especially so for actuary positions, graduates from all degree disciplines are usually welcome to try for other roles in the sector.
Also, your employer may also urge you to sit for examinations from professional bodies. The certifications obtained are usually vital for career progression.
Ups and downs
If you enjoy meeting new people and working in a stimulating environment, then this could be an industry worth exploring.
However, do be aware that certain positions in the insurance industry can be deskbound with relatively little variety, such as the underwriter position. On the other hand, if you’re working as an insurance sales representative, then you can expect a lot of travelling opportunities.
Actuarial Work: Graduate Area of Work
Actuaries help business organisations predict and manage risks.
As an actuary, your work revolves heavily around the prediction, evaluation, and management of risks using a combination of statistical/mathematical models and commercial awareness. You may also be invited to advise clients about your findings as well as help them develop potential solutions.
For this reason, your job scope can be very diverse, encompassing a good mix of client-facing and calculation tasks.
Among some of the key day-to-day responsibilities as an actuary include analysing statistical data, preparing reports and presentations, as well as working with IT professionals to develop and update systems to incorporate solutions to the risks. In some cases, you may even be assigned to develop an entirely new financial product.
Actuaries are greatly needed in a variety of sectors, including banks and financial services organisations, insurance companies, specialist consultancies, and even accounting firms and investment banks.
You are generally required to possess sufficiently high grades in an actuarial science degree; however, some employers do accept graduates with a background in other numerate degrees, such as statistics, economics, finance, or mathematics, provided you showcase a strong understanding of the financial industry.
Having a degree in actuarial science may also exempt you from some of the professional qualification exams that you need to take to become a certified actuary.
Graduate employees typically start their career as a trainee, assisting senior colleagues in their duties as they train and pick up the necessary skills required to advance in this career path. You’ll spend a big portion of your time handling calculations and using pre-constructed models to generate financial forecasts.
As you gain more experience, you will be given greater responsibilities such as leading projects, constructing, updating and analysing financial and forecasting models, and handling client relationships.
Most employers encourage you to begin studying for a professional qualification/fellowship as soon as you get on board, which often translates to a challenging time balancing between work and study. However, most organisations are very supportive of their staff members who are pursuing a fellowship, offering financial assistance and ample study leaves to lighten their struggles.
Upon gaining their certification, most actuaries tend to specialise in a specific area of interest, gaining in-depth knowledge, experience, and reputation as an expert in that particular field.
That said, there are many actuaries who have found opportunities in other seemingly unrelated areas of management as well. For instance, actuaries have been known to venture into infrastructure and climate change projects, as well as the healthcare and data science industry.
Aside from possessing a high level of numeracy, you need to be good at problem solving, research, and analysis. Good interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills are also important as your job scope includes presenting data/solutions to your clients, most of whom possess minimal understanding of actuarial science.
Actuaries should also be flexible, adaptable, and able to handle ambiguity as the job scope can be very diverse, with ad-hoc tasks and projects interrupting your day regularly. Accountability is equally important as it’s crucial that you diligently follow up on your clients throughout the process of implementing a solution.
Ups and downs
As an actuary, you’ll be involved in a variety of tasks and industries, making your job an extremely interesting and challenging one. This is made even more exciting by the rapid development of the financial industry by IT and technology, leading to new risks and the need for creative solutions.
Actuaries also enjoy steady career advancements and attractive remunerations, especially upon obtaining a fellowship from a recognised actuarial association.
That said, the workload may get stressful and lead to extra hours – especially when you’re in the process of pursuing a fellowship.
Corporate Banking: Graduate Area of Work
Corporate bankers provide financial advice and offer the bank’s products and services to commercial clients to help businesses grow.
Corporate banking is similar to retail banking, but instead of dealing with everyday people, corporate bankers deal with companies. Clients from this segment typically range from SMEs to large corporations.
Those who work in this field are employed by commercial banks that offer corporate clients financial services such as treasury advice, loans and credit, trade finance and more.
Some of a corporate banker’s responsibilities include meeting with clients to discuss their financial needs and to provide financial advice accordingly. They also offer advice about mergers, acquisitions and capital markets to help clients make sound financial decisions.
Like most careers in the banking sector, corporate banking often entails high levels of responsibility. The prospect of upward mobility and impressive benefits for employees, however, makes the sector a popular career choice among graduates. For this reason, competition can be fierce.
As a result, recruiters prefer applicants who have done an internship in this area of work as they would have a better understanding of the field and would be more likely to hit the ground running as soon as they start work.
Most corporate bankers enter this field through a graduate scheme and start out as analysts. Your training will involve rotations across varying teams to learn about the different areas of work and to develop an understanding of the industry as a whole.
You may also receive the opportunity to shadow senior relationship managers to client meetings and observe how they sell the bank’s products. During these sessions, you will be able to familiarise yourself with key corporate banking products and to pick up crucial client-facing skills.
After a year or two under the graduate scheme, you will be able to progress to a junior or an associate level, and will gradually be given the responsibility to handle clients on your own.
During your years as an associate, you are expected to establish relationships with corporate clients, which may take a few years to build as it requires experience and skill to successfully gain their trust. To rise up the ranks, you need to build a network of external relationships while still maintaining a strong relationship with your existing clients, and help the bank secure important accounts.
It is not necessary for you to hold a finance-related degree to enter this field. Recruiters typically look for applicants with skills such as numeracy, negotiation, interpersonal and analytical ability. The need to build relationships in corporate banking also calls for qualitative skills and high emotional intelligence.
Apart from these skills, internship and training experience have become increasingly sought after by employers. It is thus advisable for you to attend apprenticeship programmes and internships during university to build up a repertoire of skills and possibly have an advantage over other applicants.
Pros and cons
As with all client-facing jobs, you may encounter demanding and difficult clients from time to time. Additionally, the working environment is often fast-paced and high-stress in nature.
However, as a corporate banker, you will be able to work with a variety of products as opposed to being pigeonholed to working on just one product for the length of your career. As such, you would be able to flex your intellectual and creative muscles as you work on successfully matching the right products to your clients.
BNP Paribas: How to Get Hired
Andrea gives an insight on how graduates can prepare for BNP Paribas's candidate selection process.
Please describe the assessment process for applicants to your organisation.
All applicants are required to submit an online application via our graduate portal (http://apacgraduates.bnpparibas.com/). Upon submitting their application, they will be invited to an online situational judgement test and subsequently the online numerical test if they are successful in the initial test. After which, their application will be reviewed by the hiring manager. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to 2-3 business interview rounds followed by a final interview round with Human Resources before the selected candidate will be extended an offer.
What are the skill sets you look for in fresh graduate applicants?
Apart from a strong academic track record, we’re looking for agile-minded, well rounded individuals who:
- Take initiative
- Possess strong analytical skills
- Are adaptable
- Act with integrity
- Are client focused
- Are results driven
- Possess strong decision-making skills
- Enjoy teamwork
Please give us an example of a past year's case study/challenge that your organisation has used in your assessment process.
Our assessment process is generally conducted in the form of competency interviews instead of case studies. We evaluate each candidate against 8 graduate competencies (as mentioned above), which are aligned with our driving forces.
Does your company have a structured graduate programme? If so, what advice would you give to graduates wanting to make the most of these programmes?
BNP Paribas has a 24 month structured graduate programme, alongside a full-time contract extended to them. In terms of the development plan for Graduates - the APAC Graduate Program is a modularly structured, comprehensive set of on- and off-the-job learning and development measures to equip graduates with technical skills and competencies to embark on a successful Banking career. The program starts with the APAC Graduate Academy at the APAC Campus where graduates will be immersed in a combined group training followed by stream specific training. Each graduate is hired into a specific business line / Function at BNP Paribas and, graduates will typically rotate within the business area during the 24 month program. At the 1-year mark, the Graduate Pit-stop would essentially cover a health check on the graduates’ progress, along with personal development initiatives. At the end of 24 months, the graduates would adjourn back to the APAC Campus for their graduation ceremony and prepare themselves for the next stage of their journey with the bank.
Each graduate will be assigned a mentor for 12 months to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experiences as well as support the graduates during the start of their career with us. There will be opportunities for the graduates to participate in strategic traversal projects. At the end of the program, we expect that graduates will continue their employment with the business line they joined and that they will continue to develop their career at BNP Paribas.
The onus lies on the graduate to be the driver of their own career development at the end of the day. In order to make the most out of the programme offerings, it is best to make full use of the various learning and networking opportunities planned. Graduates are most welcome to create networking initiatives of their own to increase visibility with senior management and continuously build their knowledge about the bank.
How do you identify culture fit during the recruitment process?
The group has identified the BNP Paribas Way, which guides our actions and our daily activities. It comprises of four pillars of strength, which is Steadiness, Responsibility, Expertise, and a Good Place to Work, coupled with our four driving forces: Agility, Client Satisfaction, Compliant Culture and Openness. Our four driving forces are well-aligned with our graduate competencies to identify culture fit during the recruitment process. In addition, shortlisted candidates also issued a personality profiling questionnaire to complete for us to understand their work preferences on the job.
Please describe your company's culture in three words.
Responsible, meritocratic and cohesive.