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Banking sector is has a significant part to play in the socio-economic development of a country. Banks play a vital role in mobilizing savings in the economy by taking deposits and providing credit to those who need it. They also provide the financial infrastructure required for trade and commerce in the economy. Over the years there have been rapid developments and policy reforms in the Banking sector, thereby opening a multitude of opportunities for those looking for a career in Banking.
Banking sector in India is governed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and comprises of Scheduled Public Sector Banks, Scheduled Private Sector Banks, Foreign Banks, Cooperative Banks, Small Finance Banks, Payments Banks, Regional Rural Banks. A person looking at Banking as a career can consider options in any of these Banks depending on their interests and skill sets.
Within the Banking sector, there are multiple opportunities available in Retail Banking, Corporate Banking, Credit Risk, Operations, Treasury, Trade, Payments, etc. Over the years, Banking has evolved from traditional paper-led banking to digital banking, thereby opening opportunities in Technology and AI as well.
Entry in Banking sector can be through Probationary Officer (PO) exams for RBI, NABARD, ICICI IBPS (Conducted for Public Sector Banks) and other banking examinations. Banks also hire Management Trainees from various colleges and institutes including MBA, Chartered Accountants, etc. Management Trainee programs typically involve a year-long rotation across various departments of the Bank thereby giving the candidates a good overview of the Bank and opportunities post completion of the program.
To pursue a career in Banking one should be comfortable with numbers and should ideally have good analytical skills – with a background in Commerce or Finance preferably, though that is not necessary. Distinct roles within Banking lend themselves to different skillsets. For roles in Corporate Banking, Credit Risk, Treasury, one should be comfortable with numbers and financial analysis and have strong analytical skills. For those inclined towards sales and marketing, Retail Banking would offer multiple opportunities in Branch Banking, Product Marketing, and Sales.
Banking, as in any other service industry, also has a high element of customer interaction and therefore good inter-personal and communication skills are equally important. As one goes up the hierarchy, the importance of soft skills cannot be emphasized enough whether handling larger sales teams within the Bank or dealing with retail and corporate customers and also internal stakeholders.
The advent of Digital Banking and Payment Ecosystem has opened a new paradigm in the industry and India has been at the forefront of this with Online transfers through NEFT/RTGS, UPI, BHIM, Digital Wallets, etc. Many policy reforms have been undertaken by the RBI to accelerate the adoption of digitization in Banking sector. Banks are also increasingly using data analytics to make business decisions, devise sales strategies, customer acquisitions, and so forth. India is also a major hub for Technology and Analytics offshoring by large global banks. People with a background in IT, Blockchain, AI, Product Management will also find exciting opportunities today in the Banking sector.
For students looking at Banking as a career, I believe they will benefit from taking finance courses in college. There are also courses offered by National Institute of Bank Management, ICICI Manipal Academy, and other MBA and Diploma courses with specialization in Banking. Lastly, taking up internship assignments in Banks, as part of their course work or otherwise, would give a good overview of what a career in Banking would look like. The Banking sector is constantly evolving with innovations, changing regulations and reforms, newer business models, and it would be advisable to keep abreast of the latest developments in the sector.
Considering the importance of Banking sector to the economy, careers in Banking offer stability and at the same time immense opportunities for growth. Students today have the can choose their fields after considering their aptitude and interest.
Alumnus of Delhi University and Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, Nishu Malhotra is currently country Head for Impact Investing and Corporate Healthcare for IndusInd Bank. Nishu has over 17 years of experience in Corporate Banking in Foreign and Private Banks in India. While she specializes in Finance and Marketing, over the course of her career she has moved across various roles within Corporate Banking. In her free time, Nishu enjoys travelling and is an avid reader.