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My job explained: Corporate banking director

corporate banking directorDo you like hard work and a fast-paced lifestyle? Read on as Andrew Man describes what life is like working in the City.

What attracted you to this type of work?

I wanted to join a large international bank to get an insight into how big business works and to have a job with a strong international flavour. My job fits the bill, as my area of corporate banking looks after large multinational companies who operate around the world, providing services to their headquarters, where ever they are located.

How long did it take to train?

I did a history degree at Bristol University. Then I joined the bank’s corporate banking analyst programme straight after graduating, having got the job after doing a summer internship with them. The bank had a great training course which took about six months from beginning to end. It covered accountancy, advanced financial analysis, presentation skills, team work, capital markets and key products (e.g. loans, foreign exchange, derivatives, bonds). We spent three months in the UK and three months in New York, with a mix of Brits, Europeans and Americans on our training course. I was very impressed with the training, and it got me to the same level as others on the same programme who had degrees in business and accountancy. And the training doesn’t stop there: Nearly everything I know was picked up from the people I work with everyday.

Can you describe a typical working day?

The good thing about my job is that it is focused on clients, so my days are very varied. We try to spend a lot of time with our clients to get to know them and to understand what their banking needs are. That means a lot of meetings and, yes, the odd business lunch, going along to a rugby game and round of golf. The client and our bank expects us to come up with the best banking solutions for a particular client need. It could be putting in place a bank loan to help a client make an acquisition, putting in place a technology platform so they can have all their bank accounts around the world on one system (this sounds simple, but it gets more complicated when you have thousands of accounts), or suggesting ways for the client to handle rising oil prices.
Another important aspect of the job is protecting the bank, making sure we don’t get involved in any unsavoury deals or unsavoury clients and making sure we don’t lose any money. This is down to risk assessment (making and analysing financial models) and a bit of human judgement.

What do you like best about your job?

The variety is great. I like the fact I can walk into the office and not know what we’re going to be asked to do. It keeps you on your toes. The next best thing is having a job focused on people. We have to get to know and earn the trust of our clients, and we have to work as a closely knit team internally. And did I forget to say we do a bit of travelling too?!

Have there been any challenges in getting to where you are now?

I had no previous exposure to this kind of world and didn’t know anyone in the industry when I joined. At first you can feel a bit like a fish out of water. So I would advise anyone thinking of a career in the City to try and get as much experience to it as they can (through work placements or anything else which can be arranged). Also being a history graduate, I hadn’t done any maths since I took my GCSEs. I was worried about not being competitive with others on my training course. As it turned out, I was perfectly able to keep up but only because I had to work a bit harder at it. So be aware of where your weaknesses are and work on them.

What qualities are important for your role?

I’m at the people end of banking, so inter-personal skills are very important. Also you need to have flexible mind – you can be looking at a complex financial model one minute and then work on a thick legal document the next. You are given an end goal and it’s up to you how you get there, so you need to be self-motivated rather than waiting for someone to spoon-feed you through each step.

What advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps?

Think about why you want to do it. Often people want to go into the City for the money. The experience of the majority of people is that you get paid better than the general population but nowhere near what gets reported in the news. It can be a very demanding environment, with late hours and occasional weekend working. So it is only worth it, if you like what you are doing and you like the people you working with.
I think it is a great job. You get to see how big business works and can get to work on some headline grabbing deals, as well as travel and work with some of the brightest people you’ll ever meet.

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