Retail banking is essentially 'high street banking', where local branches offer personal or small business customers savings, loans and mortgages. These banks are huge brands that include Santander, Lloyds, Halifax, NatWest, RBS and Barclays.
The qualified accounting roles we recruit for are not based in the local branches, but typically in large head offices based in the London City or Canary Wharf areas. Roles include Management Accounting, Financial Accounting, Financial Analysis and Regulatory Reporting.
As these banks are large, multinational businesses, they offer excellent opportunities for career progression. More often than not, the work / life balance is better in a retail bank than it is in an investment bank.
Investment banking is one of the most sought after career paths in the City. Renowned for their competitive business nature and substantial bonus structures, investment banks see London as their European hub.
Opportunities within investment banking cater for professionals who are looking for a challenging but rewarding career. The jobs are attractive to people who enjoy the complex nature of investment banking, and are able to confidently business partner with the front office.
The results of the recent financial crisis have affected what have been traditionally refered to as 'Top Tier' banks; however, the key players in Europe are still Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS and Credit Suisse.
Asset management, also known as fund management or investment management, relates to the ongoing management of investment portfolios for a wide-ranging client base. Often specialising in niche asset classes (e.g. real estate), or by creating a mixed product fund portfolio, asset managers invest large amounts of money in order to reap financial rewards for their clients.
Typically, asset managers are either large-scale institutional investors (those using high value funds generated by large businesses, insurance companies, etc) or private high net worth (HNW) asset managers, who use the wealth of individuals and families. These classifications differentiate the source of finance for the fund itself prior to embarking on investment programmes. The management of a fund, or the basis for investments, will vary depending on the Asset Manager chosen, their area of expertise and whether the fund is to be a specialist (or individual) product fund or a mixed product portfolio fund.
Asset managers tend to sit away from the bigger investment banks, offering similar yet distinctly different services and different working cultures. Smaller in size than major investment banks, the larger asset managers present a 'corporate' culture yet are still able to offer a work / life balance. The smaller investment houses are more often than not much more intimate operations, far removed from the corporate behaviours of the bigger banking institutions.