Transaction banking was seen as the poor relation of more
exciting careers in investment banking.
All this changed during the financial crisis: with the
reputation of casino bankers seriously damaged, the
more vanilla route of transaction banking started to look more
Meanwhile, as the role of the corporate treasurer has become
more strategic and visible, the importance and profile of
transaction banking has likewise grown. Skilled
candidates are attracted to the diverse opportunities offered
in cash management, trade, securities and fund services,
says Rajesh Mehta, EMEA head of treasury and trade solutions at
|Rajesh Mehta, EMEA head of treasury
and trade solutions at Citi
Deutsche Bank points out that transaction banking is stable,
sustainable and relevant to the real economy. It is also
a growth area that is becoming increasingly profitable and
actively encouraging entrepreneurship, it states.
However, despite a growing awareness of transaction banking
as a career path,
some believe there is a substantial talent shortfall in this
area. The corporate treasury function has evolved and
grown in recent years, taking more importance in the corporate
organization, says Carole Berndt, head of global
transaction services, EMEA at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
(BAML). This evolution has created increased demand for
expertise and experience, and today this outstrips the
She adds that while treasury roles are now attracting more
graduates, we do find ourselves caught between two
generations the very experienced treasurers with decades
of experience and they are rare and retiring and
a growing pool of young graduates, keen to take on this role.
Between the two is a talent gap that corporates and banks are
struggling to fill.
As banks have consolidated their cash management and trade
finance offerings into wider transaction banking units,
professionals working in this area have had to broaden their
knowledge and expertise. As Michael King, associate partner at
financial services recruiter Magnus Walker & Partners,
points out: The transaction banker now has to be many
things, to understand their clients demands.
So what sort of candidates are transaction banks looking
for? As MNCs expand into emerging markets, they rely on
their transaction banking partners to understand the
complexities of the local environment, says Mehta.
To that effect, we need to hire candidates who understand
the full spectrum of transaction services and can help bridge
the gap between our clients headquarters and their local
offices across developed and emerging markets.
The increased digitization of the banking space brings another
challenge, as we want to attract technology-savvy
candidates who can help our clients take advantage of the power
of technology to improve mobility and efficiency.
As the role of the transaction banker becomes more
demanding, attracting and retaining the best transaction
banking talent is becoming more of a competitive exercise.
Specific areas such as trade finance are experiencing
a lot of demand for candidates: this is an area where all banks
are stepping up their activity and therefore competing for
talent, says Amy Burns-Thomson, head of international
banking resourcing at RBS. There are also specialist
areas, such as supply chain finance and Sepa, where there is a
shortage of experienced candidates available.
What are banks doing to attract and retain the best
transaction banking talent? Burns-Thomson says that as well as
leveraging its reputation to attract candidates, RBS uses its
own network to source talent. The transaction banking
industry is close knit, so there is a general awareness of
talent, she says. In addition to this, we use
LinkedIn for networking, advertise with financial services job
boards and use specialist suppliers.
Mehta says: Citi offers specific development
programmes, secondments and coaching to promote and retain the
most high-calibre people. The breadth of our transaction
services network in nearly 100 countries also allows us to
promote internal mobility.
Attracting suitable candidates is only part of the solution:
equally important is encouraging the best professionals to stay
with the bank for as long as possible. Where retention is
concerned, Deutsche Bank says it actively promotes career
mobility for existing talent. Deutsche Bank has an
impressive track record of employee progression within the bank
as a result of our comprehensive, sustained people
practices, it states. These have resulted in
successful staff moves either from other divisions to GTB, or
within GTB itself.
While retention is harder in a competitive market, banks can
increase their success in this area by working to improve job
satisfaction and career prospects for transaction banking
staff. Improved career opportunities, responsibility for
P&L and spotlight at the bank can all help a transaction
banker become more of a master of their own destiny and
therefore less likely to leave, says King.
However, there is an argument that the talent gap should not
be viewed purely in terms of competition between banks. Another
piece of the solution is the need to expand the pool of
available talent by attracting more professionals into the pool
of transaction banking talent.
According to Berndt, collaboration is needed across the
industry to ensure that the brightest men and women
actively consider treasury as a career from the time they
embark on internships and graduate. Berndt adds that BAML
is actively marketing its global transaction services business
at a graduate level and says: This is unique to our
As investment banking has lost its shine, transaction
banking is gaining a reputation for being a more stable but
still-challenging career option and the talent shortfall
means there are plenty of opportunities for promising