Inside BofA’s Training Program for Private Banking Analysts
- Bank of America has revamped the way it trains young graduates to work with its wealthiest clients.
- Private banking analysts undergo a two-year training with four teams spread across the division.
- The course ends with a case study with 15 possible outcomes and the choice of one of 25 specialties.
Over the next three years, Bank of America wants to increase the number of advisors in its private bank to 600, about 100 more than its current total.
Key to that expansion, the private bank, which manages $625 billion in client assets, trains an annual cohort of about 30 analysts. These interns are usually straight out of college and have already completed an internship for Bank of America.
To work with the bank’s wealthiest clients—the minimum private bank asset is $3 million—they must complete two years of training divided into four department rotations within private banking that end by a case study. They become partners at the end of the program and train for another three years to obtain the title of adviser.
This “learning model” has helped young graduates find their specialty before becoming partners, according to Jessica Walsh, who leads employee training for young private banking talent.
“What we’re seeing is that the majority of people come in with a plan and an idea of where they want to be, but the majority pivot as they continue to gain more experience in the program. analysts,” the senior vice president told Insider.
After seven weeks of training, analysts start working with the client
Private banking interns begin with six weeks of onboarding with analysts across the bank. After orientation, they begin the rotation cycle with each six-month shift preceded by a week-long leadership summit.
Each summit has modules, such as Trusts and Estates, Loans, Alternative Investments, and Specialty Assets, with case studies based on real clients. Before the first rotation, they take classes on fundamentals such as capital markets and have a fireside chat with an advisor about building a book. They are also coached to give presentations and answer questions on site. At the end of each summit, the trainees are given a “learning book” with in-depth lessons and are assigned a “buddy” within the department.
For the first rotation, analysts follow the best advisors in private banking. The role is client-facing from the start, with interns helping clients with tasks such as using the recently revamped private banking app and transferring money. They also research potential customers and identify customers who could use other banking products, such as specialty loans or mortgages.
Their work is done individually and in groups. During the 2020 and 2021 periods, some cohorts were removed from rotational duties to help administer Paycheck Protection Program loan applications.
After two more rotations, analysts choose a specialty for their final shift
The next rotation is with a Senior Trustee, assisting with estate planning and the creation and administration of trusts. For the third rotation, interns follow a portfolio manager, building portfolios under direction. Duties range from day-to-day compliance work to preparing bridge documents for client meetings and researching investments.
For the fourth and final rotation, analysts choose one of the bank’s 25 specialist groups, such as Wealth Planning, Bespoke Lending, Structured Credit, Philanthropy or Principal Investments Office.
The program ends with a summary case study where advisors pretend to be clients. Analysts have a few weeks to prepare for a meeting with a fictional wealthy family who recently sold a business.
Each trainee is assigned the same profile, but the case has 15 different possible outcomes, so the analyst must rotate. For example, sometimes the fictional family may not want to pass on their wealth to their four adult children, or may be highly debt averse and reluctant to take advantage of specialty loans.
There is no homework or exams
After the capstone project, analysts must select their area of interest for their next three years as an associate. This decision is the most difficult part of the program, according to Walsh.
Walsh said that in his three years at private banking, no one had to repeat the program. The case study is not graded and there are no assignments or exams. Their performance is evaluated throughout the program and not on a pass-fail basis.
“It’s important that they receive training on our offerings, but it’s also very important to us that they understand the management team and know who manages alternative investments and the most experienced and successful advisers across the country,” she said. “They build their network and better understand the paths taken by these very successful people.”