Private Sector Banks vs Public Sector Banks

Private Sector Banks vs Public Sector Banks

Please note that this article is written from Indian Banking point of view.

Banking industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years and offers some of the best opportunities to grow as a professional. However, the experience of working with a public sector bank could be totally different from a private sector bank in terms of work hours, level of competition and the professional learning curve. Job security and compensation can also be at a great deal of variance and it would be best to explore these aspects before making the ideal choice of banking organization to build a successful career. Before we discuss it further, it would be important to consider what makes public and private banks so different from each other.

Private Sector Banks vs Public Sector Banks – Conceptual Differences

Private Banks: 

Private sector banks are usually known for their highly competitive outlook and technological superiority. As a result, careers in private sector banking also tend to be more competitive where professionals are required to meet stiff targets and perform above par to ensure good career growth. Risk-reward component is also higher and remuneration could be better but job security may not be on par with publicly-owned banks.

  • Public Sector Banks: 

Public sector banks are known for their better organizational structure and greater penetration in customer base. Work environment is also relatively less competitive as compared with privately-owned banks and professionals often do not have to focus on meeting targets and being the best performer in a team. There is typically greater stress on providing necessary training to their personnel in order to help update their knowledge and skills to be a better performer in the long run. Job security is much higher as compared to private sector banks and for some, this could be the prime attraction for building a long-term career.

Private Sector Banks vs Public Sector Banks – Education & Skills

  • Private Banks:  

Usually a degree in economics, business or finance would do good in terms of building a solid foundation for a banking career. Most of the private banks would require graduation in one of these areas along with a MBA from one of the reputed institutions. They prefer to hire fresh talent via campus recruitments, referrals and walk-ins through consultants instead of relying on newspaper advertisements for the purpose. However, depending on the number of vacancies available they could be advertised. They do not have to follow the policies of reservation in terms of allocating a set number of positions for certain pre-designated sections of society. Private banks look for young competitive people who enjoy working under pressure and believe in giving their best.

  • Public Sector Banks:

The selection of candidates is based on clearing certain common entrance tests conducted by PSU banks. A graduate from any discipline can apply for a government banking job. Candidates should have a good knowledge of finance, accounting, banking practices and excellent communications skills as a public banker. However, requirements are a little less competitive as compared to private banks but one must clear the test. As government-owned financial institutions, they have to abide by certain policies and regulations laid down by the state while recruiting. Usually, they need to advertise any vacancies in national newspapers and adhere to reservation policies to decide how many positions would be set aside for individuals belonging to certain underprivileged sections of the society.

Private Sector Banks vs Public Sector Banks – Employment Outlook

  • Private Banks:

Private sector banks have been growing from strength to strength, delivering high-end services to a wide customer base while making best use of available technology. Private banks engage in a highly competitive market space and usually adopt aggressive customer engagement strategies, building on their strength to deliver quality services in the shortest timeframe possible. This has helped create a reputation for their efficiency and an average user prefers doing business with them for the kind of advantages afforded. For the past few years, there has been a continually growing demand for competitive banking professionals in private banks and with the right kind of academic background and the right kind of skill set, it should not be difficult to succeed.

  • Public Sector Banks: 

As the government continues to expand the scope and reach of publicly-owned banks to the remotest parts of the country, the demand for banking professionals continues to rise as well. However, given the kind of additional benefits and job security afforded, a much larger number of people apply for a relatively limited number of positions which intensifies the competition. For instance, nearly 40 lakh applications were received for approximately 80,000 government bank jobs in 2013. Despite all the professed advantages of a public banking career, clearing the exam hurdle can prove to be a really tough nut to crack.

Private Sector Banks vs Public Sector Banks – Salary & Benefits

  • Private Banks: 

The kind of remuneration offered primarily depends on the merit of an individual more than anything else. Candidates with an excellent academic background and a competitive outlook can get a higher pay package with some of the best private banks today. Perks and incentives are not an issue for those who can deliver higher levels of performance and can also be promoted in a comparatively short span of time based on their merit. Generally, a competitive work atmosphere can provide the much-needed motivation to perform better and individuals can enjoy a fast-paced career growth. However, the working hours could be longer as compared with public sector banks and job security can also be an issue, especially for lower-to-mid rung professionals. However, even top-level professionals may also not be completely safe in this sense.

Average Salaries:

  • Branch Manager: INR 732,503
  • Credit Manager: INR 599,978
  • Relationship Manager: 477,734
  • Operations Manager: 475,490
  • Personal Banker: 294,791
  • Customer Service Officer: 260,000

Average Salary Info Reference Link: Payscale

  • Public Sector Banks: 

For entry-level professionals, public sector banks may not offer as exciting a work experience as might be possible with their privately-owned counterparts. The payscales are fixed for every position and pay hikes are not as frequent if compared with private banks which may not be a good enough incentive for top performers. Promotions are usually based on the years of work experience instead of merit although out-of-turn promotions can also happen occasionally. However, work hours are among the best and there is less competition or targets to meet which gives enough time to grow as a professional at one’s own pace. Job security is one of the most important advantages with public sector banks as rarely anyone is laid off, except for disciplinary reasons.

Salary Structure:


The basic pay for PO is same irrespective of the city of appointment. It is INR 23700 w.e.f. from June 1 2015. There are a number of additional allowances making the Gross Annual CTC around INR 5,50,000 Per Annum on the lower side and INR 9,50,000 Lakh Per Annum on the higher end.

  • IBPS Clerk / SBI Clerk:

Basic Pay: The basic pay for clerk is same irrespective of the city of appointment. It is INR 11765 w.e.f. from June 1 2015. This excludes the additional allowances which make the Gross CTCT much higher.

Post Scale of Pay
Office Scale III (Officer in Middle Management Grade) 42020-1310(5)-48570-1460(2)-51490.
Officer Scale II (Officer in Middle Management Grade) 31705-1145(1)-32850-1310(10)-45950.
Officer Scale I (Officer in Junior Management) 23700-980(7)-30560-1145(2)-32850-1310(7)-42020.
Office Assistant(Multipurpose) 11765-655(3)-13730-815(3)-16175-980(4)-20095-1145(7)-28110-2120(1)-30230-1310(1)-31540.

Reference Link for Salary structure: Mockbank

Private Sector Banks vs Public Sector Banks – Career Pros & Cons  

  • Private Banks:


Competitive Work Environment:

They provide a highly competitive and exciting work atmosphere to grow as a professional. Professionals are encouraged to take up challenging tasks and enterprising individuals are rewarded accordingly.

Performance-Based Incentives:

Private Banks usually offer a number of performance-linked incentives both in monetary and non-monetary forms. This promotes a spirit of competitiveness in employees and helps boost their morale further.

Instant Work Recognition:

Some of the best private banks focus on recognizing merit over experience and top performers usually receive instant recognition for their work. The best thing is that recognition and rewards go hand in hand.

Hands-On Learning Experience:

Greater stress is placed on acquiring necessary skills and knowledge on-the-job instead of solely relying on training programs. Although those who perform well could be selected for prestigious training programs at some of the best institutes.

Technology-Oriented Outlook:

Individuals with a keen interest in technology are among the preferred choices for premium private banking institutions of the day. This is aimed at strengthening their resources for continuing digital expansion of banking services.

Fast-Paced Career Growth:

Professionals can grow at a fast pace and acquire higher positions along with greater emoluments within the first few years. This propels even average performers to do well and keep themselves in the hunt for the next promotion.

Additional Benefits:

Employees are also offered special benefits including higher rate of interest on fixed deposits and paid holidays among other things.


Longer working Hours:

Working hours are typically longer and the stress is on meeting targets instead of leaving office on time. This is one of the lowdowns in almost any competitive job and in the long-term, it may potentially affect the health and personal life of an individual.

Lesser Job Security:

This is one of the biggest disadvantages with private banks that despite occupying the best of positions, there is no assurance that one cannot be asked to leave, if the situation demands it. Some of the possible reasons might include the banking industry or the banking institution in question passing through a bad phase. This is exactly what happened in the wake of 2008 meltdown when thousands of private bank employees were shown the door.

Average Performers Might Suffer:

Most of the job roles are cut-out for go-getters where there is little place for slow learners or average performers. Though not everyone can be a top performer but those who do not perform very well or are not comfortable taking on challenging roles may not be able to benefit much.

  • Public Sector Banks:


Less Competitive Work Atmosphere:

In general, the work environment is comfortable and there is usually no rush to meet some pre-defined targets. Professionals get enough time to gear up for the role and learn things at their own pace.

Regular Training Programs:

There is a lot of stress on conducting training programs at regular intervals to help employees upgrade their finance, people and technical skills and be able to perform better.

Greater Job Security:

There is but little risk of sudden termination waiting around the corner even if the performance of an individual is not upto the mark. This may not sound like the best of incentives in terms of encouraging employees to do better but it certainly attracts a lot of talent looking for secure job roles. In an event similar to 2008 meltdown, there is little chance of being sent home due to market conditions, unlike private banks.

Better Work Hours:

Work hours are pre-defined and there is no rush to meet targets, no overbearing sense of competition and no additional working hours as well. It offers enough time to spend with family and friends.

Attractive Additional Benefits:

In keeping with the professional designation, certain additional benefits are defined by public sector banks. These include home and a car for higher-ranked professionals along with some common benefits for most roles. These include lower rate of interest on loans, higher rate of interest on fixed deposits and pension packages among other things. However, these benefits may vary based on the professional role and the institution one is working with.


Less Rewarding for Competitive Individuals:

A career with public sector banks could be a relatively less exciting experience for competitive individuals who are looking to achieve more in a short span of time. There would be comparatively fewer rewards for performing well and this may not work well for more ambitious individuals.

Slow Career Progress:

Career growth would be rather lethargic with most of the promotions and pay hikes based on experience instead of merit. Unlike private banks, one would need seniority for desired career progress which can be a bit of a dampener, although there are other benefits which might compensate for it to an extent.

Lesser Motivation to Perform Better:

With little competition and fewer performance-based rewards, there is but little motivation for average performers to do better and prove their mettle.

Work-Life Balance:

Private banks are relatively worse on this count with longer and intense working hours which tends to affect the balance between work and personal life. There is usually little time left for recreation or relaxation and it becomes difficult to spend quality time with friends and family.

PSU bank employees have comparatively much better working hours which leave a lot of time to be spent with family, for recreation or other activities. Lesser competition at work also helps them enjoy a more balanced existence as compared with private bank employees.


To make a choice of career is not a simple decision as there are a number of complex factors to be considered and balanced against each other. However, the approach should preferably be simple and based on the skill set, interests and capabilities of the individual more than anything else. Usually, individuals are driven by herd mentality into entering a career which they might regret later.

Banking can be a taxing career for any individual as it requires presence of mind, good communicative abilities and interest in finance and accounting as well. Depending on the role, skills sets could vary but as we have already discussed, those who believe in instant recognition and performance-based rewards should opt for a career in private banking.

However, for long-term job security and better working hours, public sector banks could be a better choice. Those interested in technology-aided banking would benefit with either of these choices as online banking continues to grow at an exponential rate for both private banks and public sector banks.

At the end of the day, it would be important to carefully weigh the pros and cons and then try to align them with individual outlook on professional life to make the right decision.

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