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Who wants to be a Banker?

18 December 2013

The banking industry has come under much scrutiny in the recession with many former captains of industry being disgraced. Fred the Shred, Bob Diamond, Paul Flowers to name a few, have all been held responsible for the huge losses in a declining industry. Who would want the pressure or accountability for bringing down the economy? Huge salaries, massive bonuses, fat cigars, bottles of champagne and race horses were the trappings of such ‘leaders’ all cashing in on the banking boom. How times have changed...

Regulation, regulation and more regulation. Some say that the new leaders are scared to make a decision; paralysis by regulation. The FCA is scrutinising everything and everyone.  Capped bonuses have been mooted, the ability to earn significant amounts of money has declined and the working environment has become very difficult to enjoy.  You would assume therefore that very few people would be attracted to the industry and would want to be a Banker.  The job title has made people feel awkward in social situations; bankers are the new estate agents at dinner parties.

However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I know a number of Oxford and Cambridge University graduates who are desperate for a career in banking. So desperate that some take internships where they work 15 hour days for very little pay, if any. Graduates do this because the chance to work for a bank is still seen as a route to wealth and to work for a bank is still seen as prestigious. It appears that the stigma now attached to bankers has not deterred the country’s top graduates from wanting a career in this volatile and regulated industry. For some, it is still seen as the route to wealth and the culmination of hard graft in academia.

For more senior employees, banks are seen as an opportunity to ‘transform’ from the old to the new. An exciting programme or project to become enveloped in. I have met a number of Transformation Directors and Programme Directors recently who have been involved in moving these banks forward over the last three to four years. All have thoroughly enjoyed their time and have added a significant amount of value. Lloyds, RBS, HSBC are continually looking to move ahead in HR, Finance, IT, Procurement, Front Office and Back Office; the banks need the expertise and the interim managers are willing to give it.

More and more interim managers are being hired on this basis, many of the banks are now looking at their management consultancy spend and it doesn’t add up. So, who wants to be a Banker? Well, it appears that many people still do!

Paul Smith, Consultant

Paul is a Consultant in the Financial Services Practice, read Paul's profile.

Categories: Financial Services


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