Name: Sally Swartz
Degree/university: 2.1 in Law from the University of Newcastle; Masters in socio-legal studies from Oxford University
Year of graduation: 2001 for first degree; 2005 for second degree
Occupation: Relationship support manager in the hospitality and leisure team at Barclays Business Banking
What do you do in your job?
I’m the main point of contact for our customers, all of whom are classed as larger businesses because they have a turnover of Â£10 million-plus a year. Relationship support managers are expected to provide a reliable service to them, and always be able to help with enquiries.We cover a full range of things. If they call about investing personal money, we would direct them to one of our Barclays private bankers. If they are looking to invest company funds, we would direct them to our treasury function – to our stockbrokers who would invest their funds. If they are looking to lease some company cars, we would direct them to our asset finance division.
There are eight relationship support managers in the hospitality and leisure team. Our role is becoming increasingly proactive as we look to have more of a sales function. This doesn’t mean we ring people and tell them what to buy. But we meet customers and look at the position that their business is in and offer a solution to them, which will often involve our products.
What was your motivation in applying?
I’m a real people person, and I wanted to get involved with businesses that have a high turnover. I also wanted the opportunity to build a rapport with them, as well as to get to know banking. In the position I’m in, you get to develop all those skills.
What did the application process involve?
It was an online application, and I had to fill in various details about my education and employment history. I was contacted back and did some online tests, then went to two interviews, as well a role-play exercise. I then had another set of two interviews, and was told I’d got the job. It was quite a long process – two to three months from when I first applied.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I love meeting customers and establishing a relationship with them. I also like providing solutions and seeing them work for those customers. You know you’ve really added something to their business. I work in hospitality and leisure, so I get to go to lots of hotels and restaurants and really see how the businesses operate, which is also interesting. I like the team I work in too, as well as the fact that Barclays is a friendly company.
Most challenging part of your job?
I came in with a legal background and not much of a financial one. But you are expected to have quite a lot of financial knowledge – not necessarily by Barclays, but by the customers. So you need to be one step ahead in understanding their business climate and what their needs might be. That involves a lot of work on your own.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Go for it. But don’t assume you’ll go in at the top. You really need to build a broad knowledge base before you progress to director level. Generally, it takes three to four years or longer, by which time you’ll have gained the experience to do a fantastic job. The graduate programme is great for gaining that experience, because you get to try out so many different positions.
Corporate banking is a broad term given to the different banking services that large companies (known by banks as "corporates"), governments, or other big institutions need to function from day to day.
Graduate schemes often involve rotations, which last at least a few months each. You’ll need to be highly numerate, with good relationship skills, a top academic achiever and with a passion for banking, says Lucinda Barry, senior manager, resourcing, at Lloyds TSB. "You should be the kind of person that reads the Financial Times, has joined banking-related societies at university, and sought relevant work experience in the holidays."