Working in retail banking

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Retail banking involves working in the smaller, high-street branches of larger commercial banks, such as AIB or Bank of Ireland. It is an important part of the banks’ overall operation, providing a mass-market service to personal account holders and business clients. Services range from savings and current accounts to credit cards and loans. Retail banking has suffered severe contraction in recent years, and this is likely to continue as banks move to telephone and internet-based business models.

What will I do?

Some retail banks, particularly the larger organisations, offer graduate recruitment programmes where you will be given the responsibility of handling the banking needs of the clients, such as lending and depositing.

This experience can lead on to roles within branch management. Graduates working in flagship branches may operate in a team of around 40 members of staff. The majority of commercial banks operate on a global scale, which means that you may have the chance to travel at some point in your career.

Qualifications for working in retail banking

Although many graduates come from a financial background, many positions are open to graduates in non-finance disciplines too. Employers consider interpersonal and communication skills as important as numeric ability. It will be vital for you to relate to the needs of your customer and their experiences as well as possessing the skills to communicate with people on different levels. A higher-second-class degree is a general necessity, as is a good knowledge of the products on offer.


Many banks have fundamentally changed how they operate with the public in recent years, with increasing trends toward encouraging online, telephone or automated banking. But there always will be a need for the traditional ‘high-street’ bank in some shape or form. Other financial services institutions, such as Building Societies and Credit Unions, have similar graduate opportunities.

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