Retail Banking Careers

by Mark Applegate

Technology, government regulation and an erratic economy have changed the retail banking industry. Gone are the days when a bank earned nearly all of its income from lending money and collecting interest and service fees. Retail banks have added a host of products and services to retain customers and generate new streams of income. There are several available careers in retail banking, including those designed to accommodate these changes. These positions require a variety of talents and experience that mostly fall into a few categories.

Customer Service

While nearly all retail banking positions require customer service skills, there are a few positions that depend especially on this skill. Bank tellers are the point-of-contact with drive-through and walk-in customers, as well as those who contact the bank by telephone or Internet. These employees assist the customer with deposits or withdrawals, reconciling statement errors and other common bank functions. Account specialists assist in explaining banking products and setting up new banking accounts. Notaries assist in both customer service and by verifying and authorizing the validity of signatures for a client, typically charging a fee in the process.

Loan Products

The process of lending money requires employees involved in several careers. A personal banker or loan officer assists the customer in determining which product is right for them. He explains the terms and assists the customer in completing the loan application. Loan underwriters verify all of the information in the application, request supporting documentation, documents and archives the data and approves or denies the loan. Financial analysts or risk analysis staff determine whether the bank will maintain the loan or sell the loan to a third-party servicer. Title searching and mortgage closing staff specialize in processing and closing mortgage loans.

Financial Planning

Many banks offer complete financial planning services in addition to selling traditional certificates of deposit and bonds. Financial service advisers or financial planners must maintain securities licenses in order to buy and sell products such as stocks, mutual funds and stock options. This department often hires employees to make and set appointments for existing bank customers and for the public at large. Financial planning management or investment analysts train financial representatives to find appropriate products to match to their customer's needs.


Government regulations, and the hefty fines associated with failing to comply with them, has given birth to many careers in compliance. Many banks hire an internal compliance officer to verify all that accounts and loan applications meet all required standards of accuracy and validity. Regulations regarding the percentage of loans made to protected classes -- such as women or minority groups -- must be verified by an auditor. Financial examiners will also verify the balance sheets and overall activity of the bank to verify that it is on solid economic footing. Some banks will also hire specialized outside firms to perform mock audits to verify compliance to regulation. Representatives in charge of managing escrow balances, such as property insurance and tax payments, are also part of a retail bank career pool.


Insurance careers have become a common part of retail banking. These agents, certified through standardized testing, offer risk management products to those seeking loans. These agents may also overlap with financial planning representatives to address the financial stability of the customer through times of risk. Underwriters are also necessary in offering insurance products, but many of these careers are external to the retail banking establishment.

Other Careers

Retail banking requires executive level management, including branch managers, presidents and vice presidents. Area managers are often necessary for banks with more than a few branches. Accountants are common within retail banking, whether enlisted to help the bank or as a service for the customer. Some banks offer travel or roadside assistance services as a premium for account holders. These may be internal, retail positions or through a call center or outside firm. Automatic Teller Machine service professionals are needed, either as bank employees or contracted from outside.

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