Fast Track: A-Z of Employers - NatWest

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Age: 31

History: The origins of the group can be traced back to 1658, but NatWest was officially formed in the Sixties when the National Provincial Bank and the Westminster Bank merged. These, in turn, were the product of the amalgamation of nearly 200 private and joint-stock banks. NatWest is now one of the largest banks in the world.

Address: Headquarters are at 41 Lothbury in the heart of London, with 2,500 offices throughout the UK.

Ambience: "There is an emphasis on target-driven teamwork and commitment," remarks a spokesperson. The headquarters host the NatWest art gallery, featuring artists such as Damien Hirst - which provides a slightly pretentious atmosphere.

Vital statistics: The group's 1998 half-year profit before tax was pounds 967m, an increase of 49 per cent on 1997. Its total assets are pounds 190bn and the group has 6.5 million personal customers and nearly 1 million business customers. There are about 70,000 employees working in a variety of activities including commercial banking, retail financial services, private banking and foreign exchange.

Lifestyle: For graduate entrants, the motto tends to be "work hard, play hard". A spokesperson adds: "There's lots of support for those who need it - and for those that can't get enough of them, there are always more challenges."

Easy to get into? NatWest recruits approximately 180 of the 1,000 annual graduate applicants on to formal schemes. The qualifications that a graduate is likely to need differ according to the discipline.

Glittering alumni: Simon Lewis, communications director at Buckingham Palace.

Pay: "Very much down to the scheme on which the entrant joins," said a spokesperson, who wouldn't even give a hint of the salary you might expect.

Training: Induction training for GMIP (Graduate Management Induction Program) takes place at Heythrop Park - NatWest's learning centre. This scheme is for graduates who aspire to general management and want experience across different businesses within the group. For other schemes, Heythrop Park is used alongside local training centres and the branches themselves. The length of training varies enormously according to individual schemes. (For those wanting to go into international private banking, Coutts & Co offers a training programme specifically for graduates.)

Facilities: Sports and social committees exist in most regions. Most of the larger offices have a canteen and a staff room.

Who's the boss? Derek Wanless, who, incidentally, joined the company fresh out of university.

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