Do you dream of being a high-rolling executive for a financial institution one day? Do you fantasize about trolling through the financial district of your city wearing an Armani suit and toting a genuine leather briefcase? Well, an entry level position with a bank could get you started on making that fantasy come true….
“ We do have a lot to offer students in terms of lateral growth, experiencing a lot of different things, or upper growth, in some cases, as well,” says Michelle Braaten, senior manager of global recruitment strategy for RBC. Security and opportunity are what grads look for when they apply to a big company and banks have it in spades, says Braaten, who’s done the research. And you don’t need an MBA in finance to go into banking, she adds.
“There’s not any really specific degree that you need to go into banking,” Braaten says. “We’ve hired people from a lot of different backgrounds with different degrees across the country.” Since banks focus largely on clients, they look to find people that have some level of client interaction and customer service experience, Braaten says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a bank or as a customer service representative or teller
Although starting out as a bank teller isn’t the only way to get your foot in the door, it can help you build a very strong foundation for success, says John Lemmon, the director of resourcing for retail markets at CIBC.
“Typically people are set up for success by performing the CSR role to acquire a sound understanding of process and internal applications. And, dealing with the clients as a CSR is a less predictable in terms of what needs the customer requires. So it’s a solid training base for future roles,” Lemmon explains.
Entry levels positions besides CSR include financial service representative (FSR) Levels I or II sales roles. The position you would be hired in to would depend on what sort of sales experience you have, and whether or not you have obtained or are in the progress of obtaining a designation like the Canadian Securities Course (CSC), which is required to become licensed in the Canadian securities industry, says Lemmon.
“We have a lot of different areas within the bank,” he says. “Card products (VISA), telephone banking as well as President’s Choice Financial within Loblaws stores can [also] provide good entry-level sales roles for recent grads.”
Similarly, BMO offers a wide variety of entry-level positions, says Karen Hartley, senior VP of recruitment and intake for BMO Financial Group, including financial service management positions, which deal with more complex transactions than those dealt with by CSRs.
“They would be dealing with helping clients understand if they need a mortgage or a loan,” explains Hartley. “If the customer needs help with investments, they would also be the people who would pass them along to an investment professional, like a financial planner.”
There are also entry level roles in what are called private client groups (which deal with investments and wealth management or wealth generation), and in the mutual fund business and direct investment business, says Hartley. However, you would need a CSC license for those positions. “There are also entry level roles within the operations areas (back office) of big banks,” she says. “Those are excellent roles to start in because they really provide an understanding of how a bank works, and how transactions get fulfilled both on the banking side and the fulfillment side.”
BMO’s Student Training Program is a formal summer program designed for post-secondary students who are interested in financial services careers. The jobs available through this program range from technology and operations, to investment banking and human resources.
“Our Student Training Program is largely directed at bringing in people prior to graduating with the hope that we rehire as many as possible and have them as long term employees when they do graduate,” Hartley says.
Other banks have similar programs to help college and university students get experience. At RBC and CIBC, there are co-op programs for students interested in technology.
“The majority of opportunities are in technical support, business analysis and project coordination,” says Lemmon. “The intent is to provide post-secondary students with the work experience to help them become more successful for their career and schooling. Ultimately, the goal is to retain graduates within CIBC to grow their careers.”
So, next time you eye those expensive Italian shoes in the window on your way to your part time job flipping burgers, know this: You may actually end up wearing them one day if you kick start your career at a bank. jp