What are the leadership roles in banking and what do they involve?

Leadership roles in banking include vice president, senior vice president/director and managing director

Vice president (VP)

A vice president is senior position in a bank who contributes to the generation of profits at the institution. VPs exist in the front office, where they may specialise in areas such as investments and asset protection and are responsible for deal generation, client management or identifying other ways to generate revenue. They are also found in the back and middle offices where they may contribute to profit generation through managing risk, controlling costs or contributing to overall company performance in other ways.

They will work with other VPs and corporate executives to establish and monitor short and long-term financial and operational goals for the organisation, adjusting policies to meet them as required. Typically, individuals at this level will have management responsibility, and will oversee a team of analysts and associates in their area. They will often also be responsible for resource planning, overseeing staffing levels, monitoring industry intelligence, competitor evaluation and may even contribute to sales and marketing strategies.

Key responsibilities

  • Contributing to the strategy and direction of an organisation by developing short-term and long-term financial and operational goals
  • Liaising with other executive colleagues to implement plans and policies
  • Overseeing a team of analysts and associates to monitor and track progress toward goals
  • Analysing financial statements and other performance indicators to assess the standing and financial position of the company
  • Identifying and implementing ways to reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve overall company performance
  • Building strong client relationships; engaging in high-level negotiations to win new business
  • Ensuring the senior management team are regularly updated on organisational finances, operations, and progress toward goals
  • Maintaining a comprehensive knowledge of the particular industry and liaising with specialised colleagues for advice on financial, legal, and regulatory issues

Senior vice president (SVP) / director

A Senior vice president (or director in some contexts) has more strategic accountability than a VP and has significant decision-making responsibilities. They will often have strategic ownership for their business area and will develop strategies and policies to ensure that an organisation achieves its financial goals and objectives.

SVPs communicate strategy to the board of directors and participate regularly in board meetings to appraise them of progress. They also have overall responsibility for planning, directing and coordinating the operational activities of their business unit to increase operating performance. Senior VPs are responsible for overseeing teams and must ensure they attract, retain and motivate staff. They will also prepare budgets, analyse financial reports, create businesses plans, and solve internal issues as they arise.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • Directing the organisation’s financial and budgetary activities
  • Establishing organisational goals, policies and procedures in line with the strategy of the company
  • Analysing financial statements, sales reports, and other performance indicators
  • Attending board meetings - communicating company strategy to the board of directors and appraising them of the progress of the organisation and important factors influencing it
  • Identifying and leading new business opportunities
  • Directing and managing operations and associated activities
  • Identifying and implementing ways to improve company performance
  • Managing and motivating staff; appointing department heads and managers
  • Negotiating or approving contracts
  • Identifying cost reduction opportunities
  • Overseeing revenue generation; identifying opportunities to maximise revenue
  • Building highly beneficial relationships that have a positive impact on the organisation

Managing director

The role of managing director is one of the most senior within investment banking and will usually have full operational responsibility for a division, territory or subsidiary. They will be highly involved in the strategy and direction of the business and will be accountable for the profitability of the bank. They may attend board meetings and will have responsibility for bringing in new business and developing and maintaining client relationships. They will support other members of the senior management team and may well contribute to the interview process of senior level hires. Leadership at this level will require an intimate awareness of what is going on in their industry and also being highly responsive to financial or market trends.

Why are they important?

Leadership roles in banking are responsible for establishing the organisation’s strategy and its financial goals and objectives. They also make a significant contribution to helping achieve these goals, as well as maximising company performance and revenue, and ultimately increasing the profitability of the bank.

Skills needed for this role

Leadership roles in banking are highly pressurised, so individuals must be able to work under stressful conditions and be very organised, with excellent time management skills. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential, in order to effectively liaise with other senior members of staff as well as clients. Individuals should also be results-oriented with a high attention to detail.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

There is no single most relevant Strategic Professional exam option for this particular role. You should therefore select those option exams which are the most appropriate for the specialist area you are interested in working in and/or the subject areas in which you have previously performed well in.

Career opportunities presented by this role

There is a very structured career path in banking. The hierarchy starts at Analyst, progresses to Associate and then to VP, Senior VP and managing director. For very exceptional individuals, there are levels beyond managing director, such as group head, chief operating officer and chief executive officer.


High level competencies required include:

  • Advisory and consultancy

    A. Gathers and understands financial and non-financial information to develop complete knowledge of the client business and the environment in which it operates.

    B. Provides expert advice that will add value to the business and gain advantage.

    C. Identify and advise on business partnering to develop strategic relationships to create opportunities, improve performance and solve business problems.

    D. Prepare and present business plans and advise on the actions to implement these plans.


  • Leadership and management

    A. Applies appropriate leadership strategies to effectively deliver business objectives.

    B. Leads, motivates and manages people to optimise performance and effectiveness.

    C. Collaborates, supports and works to achieve the objectives of the organisation, applying appropriate digital technologies.

    D. Acts proactively and thinks strategically, in anticipating organisational needs, recognising the wider business environment and dynamics.

  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.

  • Strategy and innovation

    A. Applies business acumen and commercial awareness to deliver business objectives.

    B. Recommends a range of suitable strategic options from which to develop sustainable plans and objectives.

    C. Evaluates, justifies and implements suitable strategic options.

    D. Adopts and applies innovative methods to implement strategy and manages change.