How I got onto a Lloyds Banking Group graduate programme
One of my reasons for applying to Lloyds Banking Group was that I experienced first-hand how helpful the company was. When I was looking at graduate programmes, I spoke with a business manager in Edinburgh who answered all of my questions and shared insight into their day-today work. This showed me that it was a company where people were happy to share their knowledge and to help each other. It was something that came across on the assessment day, too; I felt that Lloyds Banking Group’s interviewers were truly interested in what I could do and what I could offer.
Choosing a career in commercial banking
I’d always known that I wanted to work in finance, but it was my internships that helped me to narrow down my search to commercial banking. They taught me that I enjoyed working with data, identifying patterns and making projections; they taught me that I enjoyed applying the creative thinking, problem solving and analytical skills required in commercial banking. This graduate programme was particularly attractive because, not only do the rotations mean that you learn about how a business works, you also gain an in-depth understanding of different areas. I chose the commercial banking business management graduate leadership programme, but I could have equally selected the commercial banking programmes that specialise in midmarkets and SMEs, or clients and markets.
A variety of work on my Lloyds graduate scheme
My programme involves six-month placements over two years. My work has been incredibly varied. I have prepared presentations, met with private equity clients and discussed their needs, drafted credit notes and completed some financial modelling. I have also helped to devise new lending products for the pharmaceutical industry, tracked the performance of existing products, and completed financial forecasts for our real estate portfolios. Alongside this, I have volunteered with our community initiatives, helping to create and deliver a new syllabus for schools on financial education. I have found all of this very interesting and valuable. Even when I took meeting minutes at a senior leadership meeting, I was pleasantly surprised that the senior banking leaders asked me my opinion on the topics under discussion.
There is dedicated time to development at Lloyds
I’ve never needed to ask for training, as it is continually offered. We have an internal system where we can sign up for different training sessions every month. I have been to one particularly helpful session on delivering successful business presentations and one on an introduction to financial markets, for example. Across all of my rotations, there have been ‘lunch and learn’ sessions where senior professionals in different business areas will talk about what is happening in their world. These are always very interesting. I particularly appreciate having been allocated a graduate development manager on joining. I meet with them once or twice a month and we discuss how I am doing in the rotation and what I want to learn. When you join a company, it is easy to think about the work ahead rather than your next step. I feel lucky to have this dedicated time to my development.
Being an impressive candidate for a finance graduate job
At university, I became very active in AIESEC and belonged to my university’s trade and investment student society. I’d 100% recommend getting involved with student societies – not only have they been great from a social perspective but they were also helpful to my job hunt. Many top employers attended student-run events and gave recruitment advice, through graduate assessment centre masterclasses, for example. To make the most of masterclasses, note down afterwards what you’ve learned and how you could improve next time. The networking events were also useful to get a feel for companies, so definitely go to those!
Job-hunting alongside my studies was a balancing act and in my first few applications I made some mistakes. I learned that it is important to specify and emphasise the tangible impact you made during your work experience and other extracurricular activities. It’s no longer enough to say ‘I was a cashier and I served customers’ if you want to impress, for example; you need to say how you have improved something, such as increasing sales.
Similarly, I’d recommend thinking creatively when researching employers. If you are applying to a finance firm, you could read the analysts’ report on the bank – it will give you a different perspective on the bank and its deals and transactions. It enables you to go beyond saying ‘I want to work for a financial organisation’; rather, it allows you to say ‘I want to work for you because you were involved in the top ten highest valued mergers and acquisitions transactions’, for example.
In fact, I think it was partly my research that made me stand out during my assessment centre for Lloyds Banking Group. I had created a budgeting app as part of my course because I love UX design and so I talked about that and linked it to an app that Lloyds Banking Group already had. I think they liked how I connected my past achievements and thoughts with knowledge of the bank.