Investment Banking vs. Retail Banking? What’s the Difference

Investment Banking

Whether you prefer to bank online or at a physical location, there are a few differences between retail and investment banking. The investment banking world deals with high prices and high levels of competition. Retail banks are generally volume-driven.

In fact, the investment banking market is expected to reach just south of $140 billion in the next few years.

Regardless of the amount, both provide necessary financial services for customers big and small. Curious to know more about the differences between the two? Continue reading for an overview of the key differences between them.

Retail Banking

When you picture a physical bank, you’re most likely picturing a retail bank. These retail banks provide a way for the general public to conduct their everyday banking needs onsite. Some of the basic services offered at a retail bank include:

  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Personal lines of credit
  • Mortgages
  • Auto loans
  • Credit cards

The main services utilized at a retail bank generally relate to checking and savings accounts to deposit and withdraw funds. Retail banks also allow consumers to build their credit via credit cards or auto loans.

While physical branches do exist, more and more retail banks are moving online.

Investment Banking

Investment banking falls under the corporate banking umbrella. It generally serves a different clientele. They focus on an institutional client base as opposed to individuals.

Investment banks serve institutional needs and provide advisory services related to capital markets. Some of these areas include:

  • Equity markets
  • Bond markets
  • Portfolio management
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Equipment lending
  • Syndicated loans

Investment bank services operate on a larger scale in terms of complex transactions.

Main Differences Between Them

In terms of financial services offered, some of the main differences between the two can be broken down as follows. A few differences relating to retail banks include:

  • Catering more toward the general public
  • Managing lesser sums of money
  • Granting access to individual services

A few services for investment banks include:

  • Catering to larger institutions
  • Handling complex sums of money
  • Providing corporate services

These may be overly simplified summations. However, both types of banking handle a variety of finance-related transactions. Some are at the consumer level, and some are at the corporate level.

When to Choose an Investment Bank

For corporate mergers or startup company IPO launch preparation, investment banks and bankers are heavily involved.

Whether it’s a public company or a private one, choosing the best investment bank can make all the difference. This helps to obtain a successful financing deal, valuation, or initial public offering.

Having the right team behind a transaction will help. First and foremost, it helps determine whether a deal gets completed. Investment banking teams exist to help companies navigate through the complex and often unwieldy process of something like an IPO. They are trained to manage complex projects with transparency and efficiency.

The operations of a team of investment bankers could be divided into three functions:

  • Financial advisors
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Research

Operations of Investment Banking

A normal bank facilitates transactions at an individual customer level. Investment banks facilitate transactions for businesses and institutions. The transactions themselves are more unique when it comes to investment banking, thus bringing in the need for specific teams to complete said transactions.

Financial advisors provide a strategic outline of short-term and long-term business goals. They also provide a thorough understanding of industry trends and global markets.

Investment banks also facilitate mergers and acquisitions, which involve estimating a company’s valuation. The process ultimately ends in price negotiation and facilitation of the acquisition itself.

The Role of Research

Investment banks also have research divisions that provide investment advice for clients. The research branch is able to advise clients by keeping on top of knowledge in areas such as:

  • Credit research
  • Fixed income research
  • Macroeconomic research
  • Quantitative analysis

Research teams are highly knowledgeable. A good research team is well-sought after by companies during the process of financing a deal.

To Summarize

There are many differences between the operations of retail banking and investment banking. One of the key differences to remember is the type of client to which services are offered.

Retail banking, in general, exists to offer financial services to individuals. Investment banking is geared toward commercial or corporate use.

Investment banks exist to expand products offerings and increase market shares. They work as intermediaries between financial markets and organizations. Responsibilities also include:

  • Helping issue shares of stock
  • Counsel during the pre-underwriting stage
  • Counsel during securities distribution stage
  • Examination of financial statements
  • Organizing prospectus information for potential investors

Retail banks provide customer service and financial advice on a more individualized level. Retail banks also provide underwriting services for products such as home mortgages and auto loans. Retail banks provide a way for the average customer to deposit cash, withdraw funds, and extend credit.

An Investment in Banking

From mergers to everyday cash deposits, banking systems today accommodate a wide range of clients and services. The world of banking saw many changes as a result of the global pandemic. Markets shifted from previous patterns. Previously in-person transactions moved online.

However, both investment banking and retail banking do have one commonality that remains the same. They exist to serve their clients and their clients’ success.

If you found any of the above information helpful, be sure to check out any of the additional articles we have listed in our Banking dropdown. We offer plenty of resources for businesses and individuals alike.