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Is Major Banks a Good Career Path?

Major Banks a Good Career Path

Major banks are some of the largest and wealthiest institutions in the U.S. But is major banks a good career path?

What are major banks?

The 15 largest banks in the U.S. have a combined $13.44 trillion in assets. Major banks include investment banks, commercial banks and consumer or retail banks. Investment banks aid companies and governments in financial transactions and handle stocks, bonds, public offerings, venture capitalism and mergers and acquisitions. 

The umbrella of “major banks” does not include stand-alone hedge funds, credit unions, industry niche banks, neobanks (online-only banks), or social impact-driven banks like Amalgamated Bank

What are the major banks in the U.S.?

The largest banks (with an approximate market cap) in the United States are:

  1. JPMorgan Chase, with a market capitalization of $488.47 billion and total assets of $3.31 trillion.
  2. Bank of America, with a market capitalization of $325.33 billion and total assets of $2.52 trillion.
  3. Citigroup, with a market cap of $123.94 billion, with total assets of $1.67 trillion.
  4. Wells Fargo, with a market cap of $197 billion and total assets of $1.78 trillion.
  5. Goldman Sachs, with a market cap of $100.7 billion.
  6. Morgan Stanley, with a market cap of $182 billion.
  7. Charles Schwab Corporation, with a market cap of $105.62 billion.

Rounding out the top 20 are U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services, TD Bank N.A., The Bank of New York Mellon, Capital One, TIAA, State Street Corporation, HSBC Bank USA, USAA, Fifth Third Bank, BMO Harris Bank and SVB Financial Group.

How many jobs are available in major banks?

As of January 2023, there were 2,215,318 people employed in the commercial banking industry. Commercial banking employment grew 4.7 percent in 2022. Between 2017 and 2022, employment in the commercial banking industry grew 0.9 percent overall. 

In 2021, the commercial banking industry shrank, losing 33,000 jobs. Pandemic-related closures of bank branches led to the employment decline in commercial banking. The rise of digital banking also contributed to the loss of jobs. In 2021, banks in the U.S. closed 2,927 branches. The previous year, 2,126 bank branches shut down. In 2019, only 1,417 branches closed their doors. 

In 2022, Wells Fargo closed 267 branches, U.S. Bancorp closed 200 branches, while Bank of America closed 166 branches, and JPMorganChase closed 129 branches. Closures were up 38 percent from 2020. Banks are projected to continue to shut down at a rate of two to three percent each year. With bank closures continuing at this rate, jobs in the commercial banking industry will likely decline as well. This could mean declining job prospects for anyone interested in a career in the commercial banking industry. (All figures in this section from IBISWorld’s Consumer Banking in the US Employment Statistics)

What do major bank jobs pay?

There are many entry-level positions available at major banks. Bank tellers make an average annual salary of $34,930. An assistant manager at a bank makes an average annual salary of $44,000. A security guard makes an average annual salary of $30,000 per year.

There are also many mid-level jobs at banks. The average fraud analyst makes $53,000 per year. A notary public earns an average annual salary of $61,000 per year. Loan Officers make an average annual salary of $78,040. 

And naturally, there are many high-paying jobs at major banks. Accountants make upwards of $83,980. If you are interested in a high paying job at a major bank, you may want to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Finance. This way you will have a foundation in financial management and other financial basics. If you would like to become an Accountant, consider majoring in Accounting. Many employees of major banks obtain a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Science in finance. With an advanced degree comes more opportunities. (All figures in this section from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 estimates.)

What are the best paying jobs in major banks?

There are, predictably, many high-paying jobs at major banks. However, bear in mind that they require degrees, often advanced degrees and additional professional training or licenses. 

The average Investment Banker makes a base salary of $101,295 per year. The job has a projected growth rate of four percent. To become an investment banker, you must obtain a four-year degree in finance, economics, or business-related field, plus an MBA or a master’s in finance. Investment banking has numerous positions including mergers and acquisitions professionals, stock traders and bond traders, underwriters, private equity professionals and venture capitalists. In order to become an investment banker, you must have an MBA, usually from a top school. 

A portfolio manager makes an average annual salary of $126,000 per year. The job has a projected growth rate of 17 percent. In order to become a portfolio manager, you must obtain a four-year degree in business, economics or finance. You must also obtain a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) license. Many aspiring portfolio managers also obtain the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation from the CFA Institute. Portfolio Managers, also known as money managers, oversee investments for clients. Portfolio Managers recommend individualized investment strategies and decisions. Portfolio managers specialize in asset classes, e.g. equities or fixed income, or they specialize in types of stocks, blockchain startups or high-yield bonds. 

A financial analyst makes anywhere between $80,000 and $200,000 with 0-3 years of experience. For candidates with an MBA, their starting salary can increase 50 percent. This job has a projected growth rate of 6 percent. In order to become a financial analyst, you must obtain a four-year degree in finance or related field. Potential financial analysts often obtain an MBA, CFA certification and a FINRA license as well. Financial Analysts research potential investments and offer guidance to traders and portfolio managers. They analyze cash flows and maintain budgets. A Financial Analyst is a job with growth opportunities; a financial analyst has the potential to become Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the corporation.

Quantitative Analysts make a base salary of $86,167 on average. The job has a projected growth rate of six percent. Quantitative Analysts create mathematical models to aid companies in financial decisions. Banks employ quantitative analysts to help manage risk and find investment opportunities. In order to become a Quantitative Analyst, you usually need a Master’s or Ph.D. in a quantitative field such as mathematics, statistics or finance. Quantitative Analysts have the skills to weather the vagaries of the commercial bank industry, because their skills are desired in the trading world, at insurance companies, private equity firms and hedge funds as well as banks. 

An actuary makes an average annual salary of $125,300. The job has a projected growth rate of 24 percent. Prerequisites for an actuarial position include a four-year degree in actuarial sciences, math, statistics, finance, economics or business. Additionally, becoming an actuary requires studies and professional exams from the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA). Actuaries are responsible for risk analysis of various future events, including injury, sickness, disability, death and property loss, along with their financial consequences. 

Another high-paying job at a commercial bank or investment bank is Securities Trader. Securities traders make an average salary of $69,782. The job has a projected growth rate of 4 percent. Securities Traders buy and sell securities on behalf of the assets managed by the company for which they work. In order to become a Securities Trader, you must obtain a four-year degree and a FINRA license. 

Other high-level jobs in major banks include Chief Financial officer, which makes an annual salary of $144,000 on average. A Financial Manager makes north of $118,000 per year. An Accountant or Auditor generally makes an annual salary of $83,980. Budget analysts make an average annual salary of $84,240. An accounting manager makes around $82,000 per year on average. (All figures in this section from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 estimates.)

Is major banks a good career path for you?

Major banks is a good career path for you if you have a passion for banking and finance. If you are good with numbers and math, your skills will lend themselves to a career in this field. Finance jobs at major banks can obviously be very lucrative. Other benefits include good working conditions, the opportunity to learn new skills, and some flexibility. 

As with any job, there can be drawbacks to working in finance, even at a major bank. Working at a major bank can involve a high degree of stress, long hours and a lack of job security due to the cyclical nature of the financial industry. 

If you are interested in a career at a major bank, you might consider using an executive recruiter, or headhunter. The alumni association of your university might also be able to put you in touch with connections in the industry. Another way to find jobs in the banking arena is at industry conferences and other networking events. And, of course, you can look online, on websites like Indeed and LinkedIn. The website Glassdoor, which posts reviews of companies from current and former employees, can give you insight on what it is really like to work for a company. For example, former employees of JPMorgan Chase, which has over 22,000 reviews, said both “Benefits are good” and “Long hours.”

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Janice Reals Ellig

Chief Executive Officer

As the head of the Ellig Group, Janice is dedicated to increasing the placement of women and diverse candidates on corporate boards and in C-suites by 2025. Janice joined the legacy firm in 2000 and became Co-Chief Executive Officer in its transition to Chadick Ellig in 2007; she assumed sole ownership of the company as the Ellig Group in 2017 with a new focus on Reimagining Search. Prior to her career in executive search, Janice spent 20 years in corporate America at Pfizer, Citi and Ambac Financial Group, an IPO from Citibank, where she was responsible for Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration.

Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and her commitment to gender parity, inclusion, and diversity. She frequently appears at speaking engagements and as a media guest, and she has penned multiple articles for outlets such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, Corporate Director, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. Janice also co-authored two books: Driving The Career Highway and What Every Successful Woman Knows, acknowledged by Bloomberg Businessweek as “the best of its genre.”

A tirelessly active member of the industry and champion of her causes, Janice is Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative and its signature event, Breakfast of Corporate Champions. Since 2011, Janice continues to spearhead this event to honor companies committed to board diversity and to encourage CEOs to sponsor board-ready women for the Women’s Forum database. (LINK: www.womensforumny.org).

Janice is personally committed to several NFP organizations: Board Director of the National YMCA and Past Chair of the YMCA Board of Greater New York; Trustee of the Actors Fund and Committee For Economic Development (CED); Incoming Chair, University of Iowa Foundation; Women’s Forum of New York Past President and Chair of the Corporate Board Initiative; member of the Steering Committee, US 30% Club and The Economic Club of New York.

In recognition for her many philanthropic activities, Janice received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Eleanor Raynolds Award for Volunteerism in 2008. Named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews, she was also a recipient of the Channel 21 Award In Excellence for her contribution to “Excellence in the Economic Development for Women.”

“Listening to our clients’ needs, learning their business and understanding their culture is how we present the best talent and provide  a competitive advantage. We place candidates with the character, competencies, commitment, (intellectual) curiosity and courage to make a difference. Our goal is always to go beyond the expected and deliver valuable advice, measurable results and great talent!”

– Janice Reals Ellig

  • Champion of gender parity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Industry expert, speaker, and author
  • Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative
  • Committed board and committee member and philanthropist

T: (212) 688-8671 ext. 226
E: Janice@ElligGroup.com