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What is it like working in Private Banking?

Book open Reading time: 3 mins

When students hear the word ‘Banking’, many automatically think of the Investment Banking sector, and more often than not, glamourised films like The Wolf of Wall Street or Wall Street. In reality banking has a huge range of divisions and roles for bright graduates to pursue, utilising a broad range of skillsets.

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We met up with Hugh – who joined Bright Network back in 2009 when he had just started at the University of Bath. Now graduated, he has five years’ experience in the Private Banking sector and shares his essential insights on what his role is really like.

The types of banking divisions

There are four key divisions in banking - all with very different functions and challenges.

Retail – they deal with the day-to-day needs of a high volume of customers. People will set up current accounts, which their salary gets paid into and will be used to make daily transactions.

Corporate – If you set up a business with a separate legal identity, you’ll need to set up a trading account to process your transactions. The corporate bank will manage these clients, from small enterprises to global blue chips.

Investment -  Intermediaries between investors and organisations requiring capital. The way in which the financial markets operate is often very complex, but the investment bank is essentially the conduits of capital.

Private Banking – Hugh gives us an insight into his role below. 

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What is Private Banking?

Private banking is a holistic wealth management solution offered to high worth individuals. A banker may have only 20 to 30 clients and provide a highly personal, often daily, financial planning service. Hugh describes it like being a GP – the banker will hear the financial issues a client may be having, like a doctor does a patient on their health. The GP may not know the best course of action but will guide the patient to a specialist. In the same way, the banker will work alongside specialists to provide investment ideas, or tax focused solutions, cross-border transactions, property and succession planning.  

What makes it an excellent career path?

Unlike Investment Banking which is highly transactional, Private Banking is relationship led. You have to develop strong business relationships to understand your client’s needs, but also learn to work with top accountants, lawyers and financial advisors who you’ll go to for specialist advice. It’s a great mix of using your intellect and analytical skills to solve problems as well as communicating ideas to your clients.

For instance, one common problem Private Banking clients face centres on liquidity. High worth individuals will usually have their wealth tied up in assets, which can be difficult to quickly convert into cash. When a client has a need for cash, maybe to invest in something or buy property, the team will find solutions and feedback the different options to the client.

Thanks to Hugh for giving us a taste of life in a Private Banking division. If you’re looking to carve out a career in banking and have any questions, Hugh is happy to help. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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