18 months on, and I’ve started my career so I thought I would update this in case anyone searched the forums with a similar dilemma.
In the end, I went for the RBS Corporate Banking job and I’m really enjoying it.
This was despite nearly everyone advising me to go for the PwC Corporate Finance role, which I think is largely due to HR at RBS not selling the Corporate Banking Scheme well enough. I thought I would explain a bit more about the scheme and clear things up about things I was worried about:
RBS Corporate and Institutional Banking (CIB) clients are those with £25m t/o and up. This includes RBS’ largest UK headquartered FTSE100 “Investment Banking” clients. For my 1st 6 month rotation, I was in Large Corporate Coverage (LCC), which was relationship management for those clients (£1bn t/o and up). There was a huge exposure to GBM (RBS’ investment banking arm) and I gained experience across Debt Capital Markets, Corporate Broking, Rates and FX hedging, M&A advisory etc.
My current rotation is in Structured Finance, which is leveraged and acquisition finance. This is in the mid cap space (around £100-£500m) and the great thing is the advisors for the deals are usually the Big 4 Corporate Finance divisions, so I get to see exactly what I would have been doing had I chosen that option!
I was worried that at RBS I would be doing “retail banking” but for corporates, so it has been a really pleasant surprise. In fact, both my rotations have recently moved into CIB from GBM, and other banks hold these functions in their investment banking arm, so the scheme is actually much more “Investment Banking” than “Retail”.
The rotational aspect is really beneficial too. The scheme is 18-months with three 6-month rotations, so you get a lot of exposure to different parts of the bank but have a bit more security with the scheme now being longer than a year. At the end of the 18 months we put our preferences in for the area we want to join permanently, and whilst not guaranteed you will get your first choice, you will be offered a role if you have performed well.
Another thing that was pulling me to PwC was the chance to study for ACA. I didn’t think you could study at RBS, so I was really surprised when I found out that I could do the ACA here in my role (the work counts towards the time qualification of the ACA) as well as having the option to do CFA, ACT and others. I haven’t started studying anything yet (and I don’t have to study anything if I don’t want to) but I think I will start my ACA in September. Whilst it’s great there is more flexibility at RBS, the Big 4 still have the edge on professional qualification training, as the support from them is great. So I think if you know you want to do the ACA, I would go for a Big 4 firm but if you’re not sure or would prefer to do CFA, RBS is the best choice.
Having interned at PwC I can say the culture is pretty similar at both firms - both are friendly and people are willing to support and develop you. In terms of progression, PwC is much more set (as in you qualify, do 2 years as an associate, then 2 as a manager etc.) whereas it’s not as clear at RBS. This can work for or against you, as you could end up at the same level if you’re complacent but if you can also rise up quickly without doing the time if you push yourself.
So all in all, I am very happy with my choice and think there are good prospects at RBS but I think PwC CF would also be a great place to start a career and neither of them would be a wrong decision. HR at RBS need to sell the scheme a lot better than they do, because its clear from the feedback I got when I was looking that RBS CIB doesn’t have the kudos that PwC does. There is more variety at RBS but there is more structure at PwC so it depends on what you’re looking for. And you can study ACA at both but you will get more support (and pressure) at PwC but you get paid more (at least as a graduate) at RBS.
So good luck to anyone who is choosing and thanks to everyone who gave me advice.