Recruitment goes rural

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Has your job just been sheared? It might be time to start milking a career in rural banking. But just make sure you have a passion for farming, or at least a willingness to learn.

While Aussie banks are cutting in some sectors, rural bankers have so far largely dodged the axe. The main three players are NAB Agribusiness, Westpac and Rabobank, but ANZ and Commonwealth have a strong presence and Elders, although smaller, is strongly identified with rural Australia.

Khan Horne, CEO of NAB Agribusiness, says the bank is actively "looking for talent and employing people". Westpac is also hiring bankers to look after medium-sized businesses in rural regions.

Rural bankers are usually business bankers and are paid similar salaries. Those who trade soft commodities might be on high performance bonuses, like any commodity trader.

Peter Knoblanche, general manager, rural Australia at Rabobank, says rural bankers need an even deeper understanding of their sector than other financial professionals. "It is so specific, so specialised....They come to us because agribusiness is their passion, and they get to talk about it all the time with practitioners," says Knoblanche.

It is still possible to break into this sector from other parts of the financial world. Westpac is willing to teach new recruits about agribusiness, for example. "Accountants, financial controllers and former business owners with a feel for rural and regional locations all make great bankers," says a Westpac spokeswoman.

Rural bankers, like farmers, are used to hard times and managing for the long term, so the current financial crisis is not quite the shock that it is in some city offices, she adds.

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