A graduate career in business banking

GradAustralia helps university students find the right graduate program. In this article find out what business banking is and what it's like for graduates.
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What is business banking?

Whether a business is a small to medium enterprise (SME) or an ASX-listed organisation, it typically seeks to do two things: grow and run more efficiently. This is where business banking comes in.

As a business grows, it needs further financing to expand, purchase equipment or meet growing operating expenses.

A business will also need an account to receive and store money and make payments while tracking the amount of cash going in and out to ensure they have enough cash on hand at any one time.

In short, business banking is not unlike retail banking. Both revolve around the customer – who they are, what they want and why – so that banking solutions can be designed to effectively meet the customer’s needs.

In Australia, most retail banks also offer business banking. This includes, for example, the Big Four banks: Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB, as well as other smaller banks such as Bendigo Bank, Bank of Queensland, and foreign banks such as HSBC or Citi.

It should be noted that business banking typically caters to organisations with turnover under a specific threshold, such as $50 million. Once it reaches beyond this, the organisation is considered to have much more complex financial needs. It is then managed through the corporate and institutional banking area of the bank.

What is the graduate experience like in business banking?

Most larger banks offer graduate rotations that may take up to two years to complete. Some banks bundle business and retail banking graduate rotations together, meaning that, as a graduate, you will experience what it is like to service both individuals and businesses. Other banks separate the two.

Either way, if you rotate into a business banking area, you will need to understand the needs of your business clients and how your offerings may help them.

For example, if you are on the front line working as a business banker in a commercial centre or branch, you will work face-to-face with your customers. You will spend time working with businesses to understand what they are most worried about and what their goals and aspirations are. This is a great opportunity to develop your people skills.

Your day-to-day work may include onboarding a new customer, combing through and analysing a business’ finances, developing credit papers, proactively identifying sales opportunities or developing tailored solutions such as an overdraft, lease or project finance.

If you rotate through the business banking area in the head office, you may help develop business banking products, or the opportunity to design tools to price the new products and assess their impact upon launch. These tasks will challenge you to build your business and commercial acumen.

What are your career prospects in business banking?

Once you complete your graduate rotation, you can become a business banker, relationship manager, commercial lender, business banking product manager or analyst.
At most banks, you will find that if you are a strong performer, your scope for career progression is high. Demonstrating you can work effectively, take initiative and meet performance targets will put you in a better position to request – and receive – career moves within the bank. Ultimately, you may seek to become a general manager, which means you will be responsible for the profit and loss of a specific division.

Throughout your career, you may find it possible to move from business banking into retail banking roles, such as personal banker, branch manager, and home finance manager, or into other bank departments, such as digital channels or distribution.

Choose this if you have:

  • A desire to help businesses grow and realise their potential.
  • A knack for understanding what makes businesses tick and what banking services they need.
  • A strong combination of analytical and interpersonal skills.

Ready for the next step? Browse graduate programs and internships here and sign up for the latest vacancies and career advice from GradAustralia.