Apr 10, 2024

Looking for advice - commercial banking rotational

About to graduate from a top ranked MS Finance program and have been struggling with getting interest from employers from any field. Although I just recently got an offer for a commercial bank rotational program that focuses on retail and commercial banking with a bit of treasury management thrown in. I really like the idea of a rotational program given my lack of professional experience (no internships). The bank has about $2B AUM and is not located in a big city (headquarters in a city of 150k, nearest metro area about 1-1.5 hours away). I am worried that the bank focuses on more retail banking rather than commercial, where I expect I'd prefer, and that the nature of the location and loan sizes may be limiting my potential for career development. I don't have any serious other options or interviews lined up at this point so that plays a factor as well.

Ultimately wondering if anyone has opinions on this type of situation or my concerns.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and I can provide any clarifying information within reason.


Navigating the early stages of a finance career can indeed present a myriad of challenges and opportunities. Given your situation, here are some insights and advice that might help you make a more informed decision:

  1. Value of Rotational Programs: Rotational programs, especially in a commercial bank, offer a unique opportunity to gain exposure to various facets of banking. This can be incredibly beneficial for someone with limited professional experience. It allows you to understand the interconnections between different departments, such as retail banking, commercial banking, and treasury management. This broad exposure can be a solid foundation for your career, providing you with a well-rounded skill set.

  2. Commercial vs. Retail Banking Focus: While your preference might lean towards commercial banking, having exposure to retail banking and treasury management is not without its merits. Retail banking can offer insights into customer service and financial products that are fundamental to the banking industry. Moreover, treasury management exposure can provide you with valuable knowledge about managing a bank's liquidity and financial risk, which are critical skills in any banking sector.

  3. Location and Bank Size: Working in a smaller city for a bank with $2B AUM might seem limiting at first glance, but it can also offer unique advantages. Smaller banks often allow for a closer relationship with clients and a deeper understanding of local markets. Additionally, the smaller setting might offer more rapid opportunities for responsibility and advancement due to less bureaucracy and fewer layers of management compared to larger banks in metro areas.

  4. Career Development: While it's valid to be concerned about the potential limitations of loan sizes and market exposure, it's also important to consider the long-term skills and relationships you will build. Starting in a smaller, more focused environment can allow you to make significant contributions early on, which can be leveraged for future opportunities either within the same bank or externally. Networking, both within the bank and in the broader finance community, will be crucial.

  5. Considering Your Current Options: Given that this is your only offer at the moment, it's important to weigh the opportunity cost. Declining the offer without any other options on the horizon could delay your entry into the professional world, which might not be ideal given the competitive nature of the finance industry. Accepting the offer gives you a starting point to build your career, develop professional skills, and network within the industry.

In conclusion, while there are concerns regarding the focus on retail banking and the potential limitations due to the bank's size and location, the benefits of gaining diverse experience through a rotational program in a smaller, more agile environment could serve as a strong foundation for your career. It's also a strategic entry point into the finance industry, from which you can navigate towards your preferred niche over time. Remember, the skills, experiences, and networks you build early in your career can open doors to opportunities that align more closely with your long-term goals.

Sources: JP Morgan Commercial Banking MMBSI Full-Time Analyst, The Other Road: Corporate Development Associate Fielding Questions, Q&A:Commercial Banking SVP Ask Me Anything, Any rotational/development programs in CRE?, Career Change: Stay in Business Development or Commercial Banking

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

When you say top ranked MSF program, do you mean MIT/Vandy/UTA/USC?

If so, I wouldn't rush to accept something you are unsure about just because the program is almost over. You have a good network and can look for something more in your field of interest.

Reach out to someone on the team, and ask them what the role entails, also keep networking while you're still in the program and get a good GPA. This will help with future moves if you ever want to pivot.

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