The bank manager: ‘Believe in yourself’
What does it take to work in banking? Selina Vernon wasn’t sure what to do when she left school with few GCSEs. Today, she is managing her own bank branch and “loving every minute of it”.
When Selina Vernon joined Barclays after leaving college, she hoped to gain valuable work experience at a top bank, but she only expected to spend a year there.
“Sixteen years later, I am managing my own branch and loving every minute of it. I quickly realised that I loved the work, the environment, meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life. I’ve never looked back,” she explains.
“I started on the counter but I worked hard and, within a year, I got my first promotion.” She was made a Personal Banker, tasked with supporting customers in opening accounts or applying for loans.
She soon understood that people skills were the most important part of the job. “People assume banking is about numbers, but it’s really about personal interactions,” says Selina. “You do need to be comfortable talking to anyone.”
On a typical day, Selina could be helping customers and staff at the branch, taking part in meetings and conference calls, or going out into the local community to support fraud-awareness events.
But, for Selina, one part of the job stands out above all else.
“The best part of my role is helping customers to achieve their ambitions – getting a mortgage so they can buy their first house, [or] a loan to buy a car, or insurance to protect their futures.”
After leaving school with only a few GCSEs, Selina wasn’t sure what to do next. She took an NVQ in childcare (that turned out not to be for her), and a foundation course in sports science (that she enjoyed) before joining the bank. “My passion for football is very much alive,” she says.
While she says it’s never too early to start planning your career, Selina also believes that it’s important not to limit your options and to throw yourself into unexpected opportunities. “Personally, I tried lots of other things before I got the job at Barclays. Something you might not think suits you could be your dream job!”
What does it take to work in banking?
“Believe in yourself and aim high!” says Selina. “It doesn’t matter about your background, where you are from or what you’ve been through – we all get opportunities and we need to grab them when we can. Do not look at what others are doing and think that’s what you should be doing too. Have your own mind and be an individual because, ultimately, it’s your life.”
But remember: “There is nothing wrong with not knowing what you want to do when you leave school. You have to try different things, whether it’s through education, volunteering or work. The only way you can find out what makes you happy is by giving it a go!”
- Would you like to work in a bank?
- Are people skills the most valuable quality in a person?
- Keep a money diary for a week. Each day, note what you spend money on and how much, and anything you save. At the end of the week, answer: What are your spending priorities? How could you be more responsible with money?
- Make your own draft CV. Write down details of your skills and achievements that will help you in the world of work. This could include extra-curricular activities; doing well in an exam; winning an award; a part-time job, and your hobbies. Look at the link in Become An Expert to find out what a CV should look like.
Some People Say...
“Business and life are like a bank account: you can’t take out more than you put in.”William Feather (1889-1981), US author
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- The UK banking sector is the largest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. Over 300 banks and 45 building societies operate in the UK, although the Big Four banks (Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group) manage over 75% of current accounts. There are roughly 9,000 bank branches and 70,000 ATMs in the UK.
- What do we not know?
- What a typical banking job means. The banking and financial services industry covers a vast range of roles. You can have a career in investment banking, accounting, insurance, financial advice, or retail banking like Selina, among many other options.
- A loan is when a bank or individual lends money to someone else, with the expectation that it will be repaid later with interest (extra money for the time it takes to repay the loan).
- Conference calls
- Like a meeting, but over the phone. Usually, there are several people on a conference call.
- When a criminal deceives someone in order to gain something — often money — unlawfully.
- The National Vocational Qualification is a form of work-based training. Many older NVQs are now called awards or certificates of training.