Retail Banking: Graduate Area of Work

The retail banking sector mainly involves serving customers in their daily financial needs.
The gradsingapore Team

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).

Starting out

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.

Career pathway

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.

Skills required

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.