Abu-baker Opiny joined the Royal Bank of Scotland on its retail graduate programme in 2004 after a graduating with a BA (Hons) in Business Management from the University of Westminster
What do you do in your job?
I have just started my second placement in the personal productivity team in the head office based in Edinburgh. The team is responsible for activities on the personal banking side of the business – change planning and implementation as well as the sales process. It ensures processes support staff and protect our customers, while being line with the bank’s stance as a responsible lender.
What was your motivation in applying?
I worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland while at university as a part-time cashier and customer service officer. After graduating, I joined full-time on its graduate programme. I was offered a graduate place with a competitor, but stuck with RBS because it was happy to sponsor and pay for my studying to become a chartered banker. I’m working towards chartered banker status and a BSc (Hons) in Financial Services.
What did the application process involve?
The first step was registration of personal details, the second a competency questionnaire and numerical reasoning test – both online – and the third a telephone interview. The fourth step involved an assessment centre, with several group work and one-to-one interviews.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The opportunity to get involved in something different every day. Work is diverse and challenging, and there’s a fantastic level of support for project-based work. Meeting, and working with, senior management is great.
I was in branches for two years as cashier, customer service officer and “shadow” customer adviser. I enjoyed these roles, as I gained first-hand the information about what customers needed and wanted .
Most challenging part of the job?
Balancing my own individual development with commitment to the team can be overwhelming. But the [graduate] programme is well structured and provides guidelines to help you achieve both.
The rotational aspect can be daunting, because you feel as if you have to make your mark on every placement. It’s especially daunting in projects where senior management are involved. But it’s fascinating working alongside them – you learn from them.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
If you really want to get to grips with the customer, work in a branch. When you go on to other things, you can always draw from those concrete examples. Don’t focus on short-term monetary advantage, but choose projects where you learn a lot.
Retail banking is often seen as the less glamorous sibling to investment banking. But it’s a growing sector, and demand is increasing for graduates. With salaries for junior roles starting at £18,000, a place on a graduate scheme is prized. An honours degree with a minimum of 2:2 in any subject is a prerequisite.
The new retail banking division of Hayes puts salaries for credit analysts at £30,000 – £40,000, premium managers at £28,000 – £35,000, while relationship managers with corporate portfolios can top £50,000. Top-whack salaries of around £100,000 can be achieved by consultants advising on change management.
Wherever you end up, at the heart of retail banking is a focus on customer service and customer relationship management.