Reaching the C-suite in any industry isn’t easy. It requires time, dedication, and a significant amount of training and education (though not always formal). However, there are certain banking jobs that increase your chances of making it to the top. But you’ll also need the education to support your skills.
While it isn’t impossible to start at the bottom as a bank teller and move up to CEO, it often requires some higher education along the way. To make some of the big moves up the chain, an MBA or advanced degree in an area like finance or accounting will be a requirement. Once you have one of those, here are some tips to get your career moving towards your goals.
Follow the Path of Current Leaders
Some CEOs in today’s largest banks often come from the investment side of the house. For example, Bank of America (BoA) CEO Brian Moynihan worked positions within a brokerage and wealth management division for a financial institution that ultimately merged with BoA.
Timothy Sloan, CEO of Wells Fargo, performed leadership roles in divisions like Commercial Banking and Real Estate. He also worked as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) as well as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) on his way to earning the CEO title.
Even though the paths do differ, both Moynihan and Sloan had advanced degrees from respected educational institutions to help them reach their goals.
Choose Positions Under Great Leaders
Part of reaching the C-suite ranks involves making connections and learning from the best. One of the surefire ways to have that opportunity is to work under great leaders. Most people don’t reach the top without having a strong network of professionals with which they have directly connected. By choosing positions under managers known for being highly skilled and well-connected, you can benefit from the arrangement as an educational opportunity as well as a method for meeting some of the most powerful players in the game today.
Understand the Value of Consulting
Since the goal is to reach a CEO position in banking, look for opportunities with investment or consulting firms. Both of these opportunities give you higher exposure to current CEOs while you work in them, and networking will be a key to your ultimate success.
Consulting also gives you an opportunity to establish a larger base of experience, as you likely aren’t focused entirely on one specialty. You’ll also learn a significant amount about customer service and how to navigate the internal politics of most large banking organizations.
Jump at Leadership Opportunities
CEOs often spend a part of their careers as professional managers even if they possess notable skill and experience related to performing the work. Working into supervisory and management positions is a critical step to a CEO career path. And the sooner you have the opportunity to do so, the better off you may be.
Just make sure that the positions are in areas of the banks that support your ultimate goal. While a position as a branch manager might sound enticing, you may be better off focusing on positions within the larger corporate structure.
Be Ruthless in Your Pursuit
While this isn’t a specific job, it is important to have a certain attitude while pursuing your goal of becoming a CEO. It requires significant focus regarding achieving your objectives and a willingness to take some risks to move forward.
Working within a single position for a few years can demonstrate stability, but it is important not to stagnate along your path. Not many people reach the C-suite in the banking industry, especially if you are aiming or a large institution. If you discover a personal shortcoming, work to find the right job, training, or education to fill in the gap. Then, when the time is right, move on again. With enough dedication, you may find yourself sitting in the big corner office before you know it.