Top 3 Common Misconceptions about the Corporate Banking industry …… That fresh graduates shall consider before embarking their career journey in the field.

1.       It’s time for showcasing Social Networking skills during Customer Meetings

Today is the first time you greet your Corporate Clients, and you might get a little too excited to demonstrate your own abilities in front of your seniors. You want to get recognized at work by crafting the image of a proactive and capable junior Relationship Manager (“RM”). Oops… sorry to say that you might be on the wrong track if you plan to nail your first meeting this way. In fact, Corporate Banking sector is a place of formality, seniority and hierarchy. This applies to your corporate clients who are mid-to-large cap companies in particular. Their senior management (a.k.a CEO/CFO/ COO/ other Directors) expects to mingle/ converse directly with your Department Head/ Team Head of the Corporate Banking unit instead of a Junior RM who is green in the field. Thus, most of the time, junior RMs end up socializing with their junior counterparty (i.e. Finance Manager/ Accountant Officer); whereas senior RMs lead discussions about corporate financing solutions. Furthermore, it is not as easy as you picture when it comes to arrangement of meetings/ phone conversations with the senior management of blue chip/ red chip companies; because they are either (i) on business trips, (ii) having tons of internal/ external meetings or (iii) on holiday. As a junior RM, if you want to impress your senior colleagues during customer engagement, you could (a) start by relationship building with junior staff/ middle management of your commercial clients (Note: As time passes by, both you and your counterparties would have been promoted to more senior positions; implying that both sides should have more influential power in terms of decision making.); (b) make meaningful enquiries about financial performance/ business operations during road shows; and (c) pay extra attention to major discussions held between your Team Head and Customer (Note: Junior RMs mostly are responsible for preparing “Client Visit memo”.)

2.       Hurray, no more essay writings after University graduation!   

Again another no! The term “Corporate Banking” or simply the word “Bank” might give you a false impression that banking merely equals to mathematics/ financial figures. Well, part of it is sort of related to figures; while the rest of the job requires proficient language and writing skills. As a corporate banker, it is almost inevitable that you need to prepare, read and write a pretty long Credit Proposal/ Credit Application (different terms under various banks but basically referring to the same matter). In general, these Credit Proposals/ Credit Applications are around 15 to 30 pages long; covering Customer background in detail, financial analysis of the Company, Justifications for Corporate Lending to your Client, Cash Flow Projections, Corporate Loan structure (security involved, loan tenor, interest rate, repayment method etc.), Peer Comparison and Industry Analysis etc. RMs usually spend tremendous amount of time in writing these Credit Applications before passing the proposals for approval from Credit team. Therefore, if you seriously hate writing (e.g. phobia of words), the corporate banking job might not be suitable for you.      

3.       Biggest perks from being a Corporate Banker? “Definitely, Flexibility!”

This is a tricky one, because it is both a Yes and No regarding the “flexibility” at work. Overall speaking, working hours are relatively more flexible than that of other industries or other departments within the Bank (e.g. Operations team); because as long as RMs could meet sales target and complete credit proposals on time, RMs could enjoy pretty flexible work/ lunch hours. But of course, it also depends on the working style of your Department Head. On the other hand, all banks across the world are strictly regulated and under close monitoring by different government authorities. In light of a few recent corporate scandals (e.g. some well-established commercial banks got fined for their US sanctions breach), Compliance department now plays a significant role in every bank’s daily operation. All bank staff needs to follow internal procedures/ protocols for all kinds of situations; from account opening, corporate lending to handling customer complaints and sending external emails. When you are still new to the Corporate Banking sector, you might be overwhelmed by the volume and extensiveness of procedures Banks possess over the years. Trust me, those “Internal Procedures/ Operations Manuals” can be thicker than your Bible. And zero creativity involved, because all you have to do is to follow those internal procedures to play you safe from being prosecuted by your own Internal Audit/ Compliance team.  Hence, it could be tedious at times when it comes to “adherence/ compliance”.

 To all folks who are considering to take up a Corporate Banking career; do manage your own expectations towards a real-life work place, and avoid above common misconceptions about Corporate Banking industry. Good luck to your Career journey!

By HKhipstercafe