Competitive Advantage

4 Things You Need to Know Right Now if Interviewing in Retail Banking

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1. Ethics in the retail banking space have come brightly into focus.

WellsFargo has been in the news because many of its employees were opening up fake accounts under pressure to meet performance goals. Ultimately, their CEO resigned.

Why it matters to you:

Regardless of the field of business you're in, maintaining a high code of ethics should be a critical part of your role. Reinforcing what you would do to help ensure your company stays above board can provide peace mind to your interviewer about your trustworthiness.

2. Branch banking is undergoing significant change.

Many banks - including Chase and Bank of America - are reducing their volume of branch banking as consumer habits evolve and cost-pressure continues.

Why it matters to you:

Providing your perspective on the changing dynamics of the retail banking industry can highlight your critical thinking skills. Why might banks keep retail branches (perhaps brand exposure, keeping a segment of consumers, providing customer service in-person for complex transactions)? Where might the future of retail banking be given the shift?

3. Retail bank competition is facing non-traditional players like Starbucks.

Banks have historically made a lot of money off of fees like those from credit cards - both on interest rates from revolving balances and on each swipe at a register. However, new players are entering the market and putting pressure on a hefty revenue stream for banks. For example, you can now make payments through apps like those from Starbucks.

Why it matters to you:

Addressing the fact that the payment landscape is changing can show that you've got a sense of market dynamics. You could use this opportunity to highlight a few new entrants - e.g. Starbucks - and then talk about how you might propose new opportunities to replace lost revenue. Perhaps its a new partnership with Starbucks or a new benefit baked into credit cards rewards to gain consumer share.

4. FinTech is adding a new layer of complexity to the industry.

FinTech (financial technology) companies are disrupting how consumers have traditionally borrowed and invested money. Companies like SoFi, Personal Capital, and others have ramped up services formerly provided by banks. These new entrants will continue to put pressure on how traditional banks operate.

Why it matters to you:

Like all disruptors, FinTech players have the potential to succeed - or fail - by delivering products or services in a unique way. Therefore, you should be prepared to speak about a FinTech company, highlight what it's doing that you find attractive, and then share why you think it's important for the company you're interviewing with to think about what could be learned from, for example, the evolving nature of what consumers expect from a service experience perspective.

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