Do I need a business degree to work in a bank?

I walked into a recruitment event in Lagos, Nigeria some few weeks ago. I saw a group of young men asking a recruiter if having a non-business degree would affect their chances of landing a job in a bank.

Business degrees are university and polytechnic certifications (Bsc or HND) in Accounting, Business Administration, Finance, Insurance and other business related courses.

The fact is that banks in Nigeria recruit graduates from any discipline or field especially when they are hunting for people to fill up entry level roles.

Research has shown that non-business degree holders especially degree holders in engineering and sciences perform better in graduate entry level recruitment tests than holders of business degree holders.

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Banks know that they can train any smart graduate in the field of finance within a very short time. There are engineers who became chartered accountants within 2 years. Some ICAN and ACCA prize winners do not have business background at all.

In the advanced world like the United Kingdom, United States of America and Germany, most of the frontline members of staff of banks are mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers. It is not uncommon to see engineers heading the trading desks of banks in these countries.

business degree

Roles that can be filled by non-business degree holders in banks

The below roles are some of the positions that can be filled by non-business degree holders:

Branch Operations Analyst

Branch operations analysts are those who make sure that the day to day operations of a bank branch run smoothly.

The roles of a branch operations analyst include account clearing, getting cash deposits from customers, paying customers, cash management, branch procurement and cash machine management.

This role does not need a business degree.


Marketers go around marketing the products of their employers (banks). They can be grouped into retail banking analyst, commercial banking analyst and institutional banking analyst.

You do not need to have a business degree to be able to work a s a marketer in a bank.

Risk Management and Compliance roles

Any graduate can be trained to take on this role. You do not need to be an accountant or a holder of a business degree.

Some of risk management and compliance functions are now being done by software. Human just need to key in some data and information into the software.

The software are mainly developed by computer scientists and mathematicians.

Investment Bankers

Surprisingly, most of the investment bankers are engineers, mathematicians and scientists. You do not need to be an expert in any business discipline. All what you need is to be interested to learn on the jobs.

Most of the top paying investment bankers I have met have strong background in mathematics and engineering.

Customer Service roles

A customer service analyst is a one who attends to customers’ requests and queries. He or she helps customers to solve their problems. All you need for this role is the ability to relate well with all types of characters and the ability to work under pressure.


Traders are bankers that place bets on the prices of securities. They are in charge of using their employers (banks) proprietary funds and the funds of customers to trade equities, bonds, foreign exchange and derivatives.

Traders need to have the skills in analyzing past trends and finding patterns. Banks prefer to employ those with strong bias in mathematics as traders.

Software developers

Some banks prefer to have their own in-house computer scientists. This role does not require a business degree.

Software developers are highly skilled in computer science and mathematics. The applications they develop make banks automate a lot of their work. The software can also lead to a reduction in cost and better decision making.

Why banks prefer graduates with bias in Mathematics

Mathematics and statistics can be used to solve almost all problems in the world. Complex financial problems are often solved with the use of mathematics and statistics.

To get the best risk management strategy, the knowledge of mathematics is used to create risk management models.

Pricing of securities like stocks, bonds, foreign exchange and derivatives needs the application of advanced mathematics.

Mathematics is used to predict the volatility of securities ‘prices.

All software and applications used by banks to make their work easier are created by developers who are highly skilled in mathematical pattern analysis and statistics.

Banks use the knowledge of mathematics to model the preferences of their customer

Mathematics is used in credit scoring. A mathematician once developed an application that uses the comments of people on the social media to predict their ability to pay back loans.

Mathematics is also used by banks to analyse and find patterns in customers ‘complaints and feedbacks.

Even the knowledge of mathematics can be used by banks to get leads. Mathematicians and computer scientists can create applications that can mine the web for leads or those seeking for banking products on the web.

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About the author

Ayo Akinfolarin