Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Quick Guide to Banking Titles

With the news that the police have arrested Kweku Adoboli on suspicion of engaging in rogue trading, I've seen some confusion on Twitter as to what it means that he was a Director at UBS. Some people have implied that this is a very senior role and he was head of Delta 1 trading. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The core issue is that Director and Managing Director have meanings here in the UK outside of financial services (someone on the board, and the managing board member), and financial services companies have redefined them here to mean different things.

In general, banking titles go as follows:

No Title
Most junior people won't have any honorific title whatsoever, they'll just have a job function ("Trader", "Software Engineer", "Operations").
Associate Director (UK), Associate Vice President (US)
The first honorific title. Usually a strong individual contributor without management duties, or a few years into the job as a Trader.
Director (UK), Vice President (US)
Someone with supervisory duties or a more senior member of a trading team. In IT, a line-level manager will usually have the title Director.
Senior Director (UK), Senior Vice President (US)
Not every bank has this step, it's just an interim step between Director and Executive Director.
Executive Director (UK), Executive Vice President (US)
Typically a manager-of-managers. This would be common for someone who's one of the most senior traders on a desk, or a divisional head in IT.
Managing Director (both UK and US)
The highest honorific you can go. Typically MDs run a desk or a division, and usually have some form of signatory authority. They almost always have budgetary authority over some aspect of their business. There are many of them.
Exactly what you'd expect. There's one of these per area (though the Group CEO may not be the same as the Divisional CEO for example).

Also, one last tidbit. CIO can mean one of two things: either Chief Information Officer, which means what it would in any other firm; or Chief Investment Officer, which is completely different. Make sure you know which one you're meeting with.

Caveats: Yes, there are firms that do things differently. No, this may not apply at your firm. This might be very heavily biased to Investment Banks. But I meet a lot of people who work in the financial services industry, and have worked there myself, and these appear to be the most generic bands and equivalency.

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