Well, maybe not. But retail banks do at least have a business model that’s more or less intact. They have also been known to hire people with investment banks on their CVs.
The investment-bank-turned-retail-bank-employee of the moment is Stephen Hester, the new chief exec at RBS. Hester spent 19 years at Credit Suisse First Boston as, among other things, global head of the fixed income division.
Accountants at investment banks will probably find it easiest to go to retail. Jamie Risso-Gill, a director at search firm Sheffield Haworth who works with retail banks, says management or financial reporting experience in an investment bank is a good thing. “Skills aligned to a particular area – like product control, are less transferable,” he confides.
Retail banks also employ people in group strategy, product development and marketing, risk and HR, all of which may be of interest to investment banking employees weighing their options.
David Butter of recruitment firm GRS Consulting, says investment banking risk professionals are suddenly queuing up to work on the consumer side of the tracks: “The attraction of retail banks as a safe haven has never been higher.”
This may be slightly delusional given the deterioration of Bradford & Bingley, Northern Rock and HBOS, and the Bank of England’s assertion that the UK’s six largest banks are still massively under-capitalised. But hope is a good thing.
Investment bankers who successfully migrate to retail may find the cultural differences extreme. “Retail banking is about emotional intelligence and man management, creating a vision that will make sense to thousands of branch-level employees,” says Risso-Gill.
Investment banking is now about keeping your job.