Retail Banking Career Profile

Find out what it takes to succeed in the role of a retail banker

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What is a Retail Banker?

A retail banker is a professional who works at a financial institution, such as a bank, providing many individuals with core financial solutions. Retail bankers are responsible for managing customer accounts, offering banking products and services, and advising clients on ways to achieve their financial goals.

Retail bankers have many positions, from entry-level such as tellers, advisory roles like personal bankers, mortgage, and investment advisors, and finally, leadership such as branch and district managers. Their primary goal is to expand their firm’s relationships in the community. They help individuals with personal accounts and transactions, applying for loans, mortgages, and credit cards, and managing investment portfolios.

Retail bankers play a vital role in the financial industry by helping individuals manage their finances and achieve their goals. This is a rewarding position that offers plenty of opportunities for career advancement within the retail network and other areas of the firm. Client-facing and relationship-building experience earned by retail bankers are valued traits in the financial services industry.

Key Highlights

  • Retail bankers are client-facing support and sales roles for a diverse group of personal clients, supporting their individual needs.
  • Retail bankers have varying experience, from entry to senior level. They act in concert to deliver banking products and services to the largest group of clients in most communities.
  • Successful bankers possess a combination of skills such as communication and interpersonal skills, sales, attentiveness, and time management.

Retail Banking Job Overview

Retail bankers are client-facing and act in both support and sales capacities. They are often the brand ambassadors in their communities. Given their numbers and roles, they are sought after for personal financial advice and sometimes macroeconomic opinions, such as their expectation for the interest rate environment.

Retail bankers are the largest pool of employees in many institutions, covering positions that require simple to intermediate skills to service the greatest number of clients in most financial services firms.  

Required Skills for Retail Bankers

Communication, sales, and organization skills are helpful for a successful career as a retail banker.

  • Communication and interpersonal skills are essential to interact with a diverse group of clients. Retail bankers must quickly grasp clients’ needs and provide useful financial advice. While conveying financial solutions to personal financial challenges, bankers often provide client education.
  • Sales and marketing skills are key differentiators for high-performing retail bankers. A successful retail banker tends to exceed their sales goals, by recognizing opportunities to cross-sell and to quickly close competitive opportunities (such as mortgages).  
  • Organizational and time management skills, and attention to detail. Client volume is high, and available turnaround times are short, so juggling shifting priorities and economizing efforts are all important. For example, a banker must be efficient with their time and effort to process transactions quickly and maintain accurate records needed for analysis, compliance, etc.

Common Tools for Retail Bankers

Communication tools vary, as firms have diverse resources and policies due to security, audit, and record retention requirements. Working from employee-owned devices (phones, tablets, etc.) is a trend that is accelerating.  

Customer relationship management tools (CRMs) help track and maintain client interactions, which is useful for continuity (e.g. holiday coverage or staff turnover) and sales management (e.g. pipeline and opportunity tracking).

Banking information systems are typically customized and firm-specific, although new technologies have contributed to the standardization toward common platforms that are less costly to develop and maintain as a group rather than independently. Many firms may compete more effectively with “commercial off-the-shelf” solutions (e.g., document and record keeping, credit, spreading, adjudication, and risk monitoring systems).

A Typical Day for a Retail Banker

As a retail banker, your day might begin with checking email and voicemail messages to respond to client inquiries and identify any urgent tasks. You may then review your clients’ account balances, loan applications, and other financial documents to ensure accuracy.

Throughout the day, you’ll meet with your clients to discuss their specific needs and recommend appropriate financial products and services. You’ll also process transactions such as deposits and withdrawals, complete loan applications, or make investments.

At the end of the day, you might spend some time updating client records and preparing reports to track your sales progress and identify opportunities for improvement.

Retail Banking Qualifications and Experience

To become a retail banker, candidates typically need a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or a related field. Some banks may require additional certifications, such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. Other finance and banking certifications tend to be sought-after, too.

Experience in sales or customer service is also valuable for candidates seeking a career in retail banking. Candidates with experience working in financial institutions, like banks or credit unions, may seek advancement opportunities available with competitor institutions.

Compensation for Retail Bankers

The compensation for retail bankers vary depending on their experience, education, and location. Retail bankers can generally expect to earn solid salaries and receive good benefits. 

With entry- and mid-level positions, salaries are sometimes lower than other banking positions, such as business banking and private wealth management. Retail bankers often have great stability in their positions, manageable performance goals, and opportunities for steady, long-term careers.

Additional Resources

Interested in learning more about a career in retail banking?

Enroll in Introduction to Banking for an even more in-depth look at this dynamic role within the banking industry.

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