Job market / Work experience

When is a bank not a bank?

When it is The Bank? As in the Bank of England! The employment opportunities at The Bank are very different from those in domestic or investment banks and I have just been on a careers day to find about what’s on offer. I’m going to mirror the structure of the day by debunking some common myths and misconceptions?

Myth 1.

consumer_price_index150The Bank is only looking for Economists.

Wrong, The Bank recruits from a wide range of disciplines. How about these for some examples?

What about ICT? Yes, plenty of opportunities and you don’t have to be graduating with a degree in Computing or Information Technology in order to be considered. Apparently music and geography graduates often have the right mental skills to take very fast to programing!

Interested in regulation? There are fascinating prudential regulation roles. The Bank has to regulate UK domestic banks, the UK operations of international banks and insurance companies. A background in law is ideal preparation, but plenty of graduates from other disciplines have also found exciting roles here. Apparently you can expect early responsibility and within a few years you might find yourself negotiating with the CEO of an overseas Bank or on a plane to visit him or her, perhaps on the other side of the world.

Myth 2.

There aren’t many opportunities, and you really need a Masters.

Threadneedle_street200It turns out that there are a plethora of ways in which to engage with the Bank of England. Opportunities exist for university students to attend insight days, then there are six week long summer internships for first years, thirteen month placements for students after the end of their second year, second year eight week long summer internships and the graduate scheme. Some of these schemes are substantial. This year 25 first years have been recruited, 38 year-long placement students have joined and 71 new graduates will be coming. Generally Masters graduates join the Bank and work in the same way as first degree graduates, although they may make slightly faster progress. It is true that there are some jobs for which Masters Qualifications are required. These are typically the vacancies requiring “hard-core” Economics and there are some opportunities to get Bank funding for relevant Economics Masters.

Myth 3.

The Bank is stuffy and traditional.

This didn’t seem to be the view of the graduates we met; they talked about the pleasure of working with a bunch of really clever people doing a job which matters to the country. It is certainly true that massive changes are planned for the recruitment round starting in September this year. For the first time The Bank will be looking to develop relationships with the people who join on internships and it will be offering graduate jobs and even Masters funding on the back of this early engagement. It’s also about to unveil a new Central Bank Post Graduate Diploma for which its graduates will be expected to study.

Myth 4?

The pay doesn’t match market rates.

pound_coins200This one it seems is true. Graduates joining the Bank do considerably less well than their peers who opt to go off to investment banks. The Bank isn’t looking for second tier in term of ability, so what persuades the brightest and the best to join? It seems that graduates share a passion for “service”. They want to contribute to society and to make a difference. Some will follow a route to the Bank which has involved working for charities or other Third Sector organisations, others will have looked at the investment banks and decided that the way of life they offer is not for them.

There is no culture of long hours at The Bank, work life balance is considered to be very important and while its offices lack the opulence of some City investment banks, consultancies and law firms, they are pleasant. There is a thriving choir and orchestra, a gym on site, a doctor, a restaurant and the excitement of knowing that buried underneath you is a lot of gold!

Interested?

What do you impress at The Bank recruitment process?

An intellectual curiosity, and an interest in financial markets is important. You need to be prepared to express an opinion and to evidence your ability to work collaboratively in a team. An enthusiasm for and an ability to innovate is also a plus. You’ll need a 2.1 and 300 UCAS points (260 for the IT stream). If you don’t have this, but can explain why not, don’t be deterred from applying, but make sure that you give details about why things didn’t work out for you academically quite as you might have planned.

Has this made you think about The Bank in a new way or encouraged you to think about it for the first time? Then look out for insight days. You do an online application and then a video interview. Video interviews are definitely the next big thing in recruitment so it even gives you a chance to practise your skills ahead of the rest of the pack.

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