I will make the assumption here that you lack the helpful family connections in which daddy can pick up the phone, call his old schoolboy chums Rupert or Hugo who can fix you up with the necessary job or internship.
So, without further ado, let’s get you your first private banking job, shall we?
It can be done without a college degree, but some people win on the lottery as well. So get yourself into college or university pronto. If nothing else, at least you get to drink copious amounts of alcohol and go out partying every other night expecting to get your leg over, only to end up falling asleep on a park bench. It’s all good practice in the grand scheme of things, because wining and dining is a part of private banking, so practicing your partying skills will help. (Don’t mention that too much in the job interview though.)
Basically, you need to have the degree to get an interview. If you’ve studied finance—brilliant. I did finance, but only because I didn’t get in to study history. But if you’ve done history, English, archeology, biology or whatever, no probs. The main thing is that these days you need a college degree.
This is it. If there is one thing that separates the whatsimies from the thingimies, it is this. Consistency will get you through in the end, simply because it is the one single obstacle that most applicants fail to get over. The good news is that most students are lazy so and so’s. Sue me for saying it; throw water bombs at me. I don’t care. I love the youth. I want nothing but the best for students, but in general, they can’t be arsed to do much. So, if you have just a tad more get up and go than your peers, then you are off to a great start. If you keep being consistent, I guarantee you (98 and three quarter percent) that you’ll succeed.
This means you start now. If you are in your first year at uni, even better, start now. In your last year, so what, yes, you are a little late, but start now. Just graduated? You are late, but start now. Sitting on your backside six months after graduating, eating pot noodles and drinking lager … you got it, start now!
Prepare your CV and start sending it out. When you get a rejection, send a thank-you note. Yes, send a thank-you note/email for being rejected (because rejected you will be, countless times), asking politely if there is anything in particular that you could work on in the future to improve your chances of being employed by the firm in question.
Most of the time, you won’t get an answer, but if and when you do, send a reply (again, thanking them), asking that if you work on their recommendation, could you send your updated application to them again in three months’ time. If they say “yes,” then you write that in your calendar for three months’ time and send it. Don’t forget!
If they don’t answer at all, send it in three months anyway. Something to the tune of:
“Dear Head Hiring Honcho,
You were kind enough to advise me three months ago by email on steps I should take to improve my chances of being employed … so on and so forth. Here’s my new application, grovel, grovel, gimme a job!”
Then when you get rejected again, you thank them and go through the same process. I guarantee that a year or two of this while at uni and, at the end of it, you’ll have a job. Politeness and persistence are a powerful combination. What’s more, the people who recognise it and take note of it tend to be top professionals, so you’ll probably end up working for a better than average bank.
The one skill you’ll need
Private banking is a relationship management business. Let me repeat that, private banking is a relationship management business. Because private banking is a relationship management business, it is important to bear in mind that, in a relationship management business, managing relationships is key to good relationship management. Thank you for understanding the importance of relationship management within the relationship-management-driven-private-banking business model.
Did you get that? Read it again just to be sure.
What this in effect means is the ability to sell ideas to your clients. Looking them in the eye and saying, “Yes, this is what you need, do this.”
You need to put effort into getting a job in a bank first. You aren’t going to get straight into private banking unless you can turn to the help of Rupert and Hugo.
Retail banking is the best way in, but even that can be hard. Apply, apply, apply, and be consistent and follow the above plan of being polite and asking to contact again in a few months time. This way you build a relationship.
If you can’t get a job in a bank, fret not, get a job in anything involving sales. I don’t care if it’s working at the local off-licence (liquor store to my American readers) or selling mobile phones. Sales skills are what will hone your relationship management abilities and banks love it if you can sell. Whatever sales job you get, do it well, and do one thing better than anyone else and a little different. Basically, this means sell the bejeebers out of a single product or products.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you are working at the off-licence. If someone buys a bottle of gin, you ask them if they like martinis. If they say yes, sell them a bottle of Noilly Pratt and a packet of olives. If they say no, tell them tonic is three for the price of one, and how’s about it? And then sell them a few lemons on top of that. Don’t have lemons in your offie? Well, there you go, you should.
Offies sell loads of beer, so have some nuts on the counter that customers can have a nibble, while you (slowly) tally up their purchases and ask them:
“Would you like to taste my salty nuts?”
That should get their attention. Some will, some won’t, but some of those that will taste them are going to buy some of them nuts. Well done, you sales genius you!
You can actually calculate percentage wise how much you are selling extra per purchase. Make a note of it. Now put that in your application and talk it up a storm in the interview. How you increased sales by X percent. Trust me, people are going to be impressed with your ingenuity, and the fact that you can sell, sell, sell. The job is yours—sign there on the dotted line.
Not too much to say about this. Once you are in that room, you should have a real chance at the job; otherwise, you wouldn’t be invited. You need to dazzle them with your personality. So what your mum and dad and life haven’t taught you by now, I can’t really help with, but here are a few simple yet deal-breaking logistical things to remember:
Dress well. Ladies, not much I can tell you here. I only dress in women’s clothing on weekends in front of the mirror when the wife’s at the bingo, so my expertise on that front is limited. My advice is to just look smart and conservative, and hold the perfume. Seriously, ladies, hold the perfume.
As for the blokes, make sure your trousers are pressed, and preferably wear a white or a light blue shirt. No loud ties. Polish your shoes. Comb your hair, brush your teeth and rinse with mouthwash.
Oh and axe the Axe. I know the girls like it, and it has given you a reputation as the Cool Robot of Luurve, but recruiters won’t like it. Seriously though, no strong scents, people hate that, just normal deodorant. For the interview, it’s safer to go without aftershave. Wash your hands, cut your nails and clean under your fingernails. By the way, this is the part of the article where I am serious and not joking at all. If the above aren’t in order, you ain’t getting the job. If you smoke, do it half an hour before the interview, no less. Otherwise, you will stink.
Get on it now. LinkedIn is where all the recruiters go hunting, it is where everyone in the business goes to check out the talent. All the hip kids are there.
LinkedIn is also a very strong social media, meaning that if there are pictures of you on the Internet, throwing up in Ibiza, dressed as a WWII German female officer wearing suspenders and a garter belt, and you are a 220 lbs geezer from Burnley, called Dave, in all likelihood, your profile in LinkedIn is what will come up before your holiday snaps when someone is Googling your name.
Basically, LinkedIn allows you to control the professional image of yourself and promote yourself in the way you want to. Use it wisely. It is a subject that a book could be written about, so you might as well get started now. My only advice is that it is not Facebook. Don’t treat it as such. Use sparingly and professionally. Watch your language and your opinions.
I barely scratched the surface here, but I sincerely hope this helps you. The greatest single moment of feeling (I stress the word moment) in life is when you get that first “dream” job. Yes, it is better than losing your virginity, because that tends to be a bit of a letdown until you get your mojo trained properly. Yes, it is even better than the moment you become a parent, because at that moment it is too difficult to comprehend the monumental responsibility and utter joy and love of the years ahead.
But as for that job you have dreamed about, when you’ve done the interview and the whole process—for the days, maybe weeks that you have been waiting for the call—that call will start your whole career. All your dreams, the years of work you’ve put in and now it all has the possibility of being fulfilled, and you will be setting off on that great adventure in life …
I wish that single moment of elation on everyone once in their life, when they put down the phone after being told, "We'd like to offer you the job."