Commercial Banking

1. What is Commercial Banking?
2. What are the types of Commercial Banks?
3. What are the most common career tracks in Commercial Banking?
4. What Commercial Banking resources are available?

1. What is Commercial Banking?

Commercial banks take deposits from individual and institutional customers, which they then use to extend credit to other customers. They make money by earning more in interest from borrowers than they pay in interest to those whose deposits they accept. They’re different from investment banks and brokerages in that those kinds of institutions focus on underwriting, selling, and trading corporate and municipal securities.

Most of us maintain checking accounts at commercial banks and use their ATMs. The money we deposit in our neighborhood bank branch or credit union supports economic activity through business loans, mortgages, auto loans, and home repair loans. Banks also provide loans in the form of credit card charges, and render local services including safe deposit, notary, and merchant banking.

2. What are the types of Commercial Banks?

Consumer or Retail Banking: A small to mid-sized branch with tellers and platform officers. In addition to extending their consumer-banking operations, many of the larger banks have added to their investment banking and asset management capabilities. Make sure you’re applying to the right part of a large diversified organization.

Business or Corporate Banking: Many of the players in this group are the same ones in the consumer banking business; others you’ll find on Wall Street rather than Main Street. At the highest level, the larger players provide a wide range of advisory and transaction management services to corporate clients. Depending on which institution and activity area you join, the work can resemble branch banking or investment banking.

Securities and Investments: Traditionally, this field has been the domain of a few Wall Street firms. However, as federal regulations have eased, many of the biggest commercial banks have added investment banking and asset management activities to their portfolios. For anyone interested in corporate finance, securities underwriting, and asset management, many of these firms offer an option.

Nontraditional Options: Increasingly, a number of nonbank entities are offering opportunities to people interested in financial services. Players include credit card companies, credit card issuers and credit reporting agencies. Although people at these firms are still in the money business, the specific jobs vary greatly, perhaps more widely than jobs at traditional banks.

3. What are the most common career tracks in Commercial Banking?

Loan Officer: Loan officers determine who gets loans (and on what terms) and who does not. They assess a customer’s situation, identify the most suitable loan option to meet the customer’s needs and walk the customer through the loan process.

Branch Manager: Oversees all operations of the branch, including supervising employees, selling and delivery of all financial services, supporting sales goals, and maintaining and developing business relationships in the community.

Bank Teller: This is the front line in the banking world. In addition to having extensive customer contact, tellers have to have a good feel for numbers, a willingness to handle large amounts of cash, and an attention to detail. There are more than 500,000 tellers in the United States; most work 9 to 5, and one-third work part-time.

Programmer: Financial institutions have a huge need for programmers and people with technical skills. Specific responsibilities can range from managing network systems to coding applications for a wide variety of transaction-oriented processes to modeling bank functions such as loan approvals and risk management. Positions usually require specific platform experience or programming knowledge.

Sales: Banks are competing with brokerages, investment banks, and mutual funds, all of which offer more obvious and alluring opportunities in sales. If you seem to have a talent for this and you would like a chance to be a big fish, then a commercial bank might be just the pond for you. Demand is also rising for salespeople who understand product development and for investment managers (brokers).

Trust Officer: Involves helping clients with trust services, estate planning, taxes, investing, and probate law. This job requires diplomacy, tact, deference, and a better, more current understanding of tax law than most attorneys need.

4. What commercial banking resources are available?

Define Finance: Brief overview of the different areas within financial services and information about the banking sector.

Careers in Finance: Information on careers in fields like investment banking, real estate and financial planning.

Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statics

Vault Career Insider Guides (*must use your WFU email to access): Check out industry, career, and employer guides, plus hot links to finance firms, newsletters, interview information and more.

WetFeetLearn about financial industry trends, markets, major players, requirements, career tracks, and job outlooks, and more.

Mergers and InquisitionsAn excellent resource for students interested in investment banking.

Wall Street Oasis: Online financial community with access to industry and interview guides.

The Wake on Wall Street (WOWS) Guide: This is an overview of  “Navigating the Wall Street Job Market” and is written by the Wake on Wall Street alumni group as a primer for students exploring careers in financial services.

Overview of the World of Finance : A PowerPoint resource produced by the WOWS group.

To access all of the Wake on Wall Street resources, click here




CFO Magazine


The Wall Street Journal

Financial Times



The Economist

The Street

Yahoo Finance


Professional Associations

American Bankers Association

American Finance Association

Global Academy of Finance & Management

American Institute for Certified Public Accountants

Association for Finance Professionals

European Finance Association

Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards, Inc.

CFA Institute

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

Industry Job Sites

Accounting Career Network: National database of employment opportunities in the areas of accounting and finance. Career site for banking and financial services positions

eFinancialCareers: Offers news, advice, and job postings for various sectors in the financial services industry.

Financial Job Network: Site to view global job opportunities for financial executives in the following categories: Chief Financial Officer, Controller, Auditor, Finance (VP, Analyst, Operations, Manager, Development, Tax, Accounting, Engineer, etc.) and Actuary.

Financial Job Site: Accounting and Financial jobs for professionals at all levels.

For a timeline of the job and internship search process and commercial banking industry recruiting, click here.

To learn more about Commercial Banking at Wake Forest contact the Wake Forest Finance Club.