What Does a Relationship Manager Do? (With Types and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 May 2022

Relationship managers are vital to the success of a company, especially in the banking and finance industry. They're key to acquiring and maintaining profitable clients or business partners that can help a company grow. If you want to hold an important position in the industry, being a relationship manager may be a suitable career choice for you. In this article, we explore the responsibilities, salary, work environment and requirements of a relationship manager position and present a list of common job titles in the field.

Related: Careers in Finance (With Types, Requirements and Job Roles)

What is a relationship manager?

A relationship manager is a member of the sales or customer service team responsible for forming and maintaining relationships with clients. They act as a link between external clients and the organisation. Since relationship managers are part of the management-level team, they possess advanced qualifications, extensive work experience and excellent industry knowledge and skills.

Some relationship managers work in the business-to-business sector, where they help their business clients advance their operational procedures or bring in more customers. Others work in the business-to-consumer sector where they sell products and services of the organisation to end customers. Their main responsibility is to cultivate relationships with stakeholders and maintain an open line of communication. Relationship managers understand the needs of their clients and develop strategic plans for fulfilling these needs as quickly as possible.

What does a relationship manager do?

Below is a list of job responsibilities of relationship managers that can answer the question "What does a relationship manager do?":

  • scheduling and holding meetings with clients and customers to talk about their needs

  • designing and implementing sales pitches and plans to meet the needs of customers and clients

  • developing strategies to address widespread customer needs or existing issues

  • establishing procedures to retain clients

  • listening to customers' and clients' issues

  • collaborating with staff in different departments to resolve issues in a timely manner

  • fostering positive relationships with teammates, clients and customers

  • notifying the sales team of cross-selling opportunities and new prospects

  • monitoring competitors' activities closely to stay ahead of them

  • developing best practices for customer service and communicating with clients and customers

  • promoting and maintaining a positive work culture and company image

  • analysing data to use in strategy development or sales pitch

  • seeking creative solutions to problems

Related: What Is a Customer Relationship Manager? And Other FAQ

Types of relationship managers

There are two main types of relationship managers, both of which are valuable in the workplace:

Client relationship managers

A client relationship manager builds lucrative and friendly relationships with clients, customers and others that the business may serve. Their main goal is to foster trust by listening attentively to the requirements of clients and recommending courses of action that are in their best interests. Customers come to trust their relationship manager to answer their questions, resolve their issues, inform them of important company updates and product launches.

Related: What Are the Essential Skills of a Finance Manager?

Business relationship managers

Rather than working with clients, a business relationship manager collaborates with external stakeholders that help keep a company's operations running smoothly. Their main focus is mostly on vendors, suppliers and other business partners. They handle budgeting, track purchases and share information about business value among different teams.

Business relationship managers analyse and track past trends and competitor information to see how successful businesses in the industry schedule supplies, handle issues, secure investments and maintain reliable relationships with suppliers. They help raise the company's image by organising community and volunteer events. Businesses that are socially responsible and give back to the community are more likely to attract clients and investors.

The work environment of a relationship manager

Relationship managers usually work in an office at a desk for the majority of their day. They may also travel to meet with clients, business partners and suppliers at various locations, such as offices, restaurants and factories. Relationship managers who handle overseas clients and business partners may travel abroad frequently. The work environment is typically fast-paced and competitive as it's important for relationship managers to secure profitable deals and reach the company's sales targets.

Generally, relationship managers work 40 hours a week, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m and through Monday to Friday, but hours may vary according to the type of industry. It may also be common for relationship managers to work overtime and occasionally on weekends to keep up with the fast-paced nature of the business. Relationship managers often have a business-formal dress code and are very careful of their conduct as they represent the company when interacting with key stakeholders.

Related: Business Formal Attire vs. Business Casual Attire

Salary expectations of relationship managers

The average salary of a relationship manager is $312,370 per year. This salary may vary depending on the size and location of the organisation and the industry that it operates in. For instance, a relationship manager in the banking and finance industry may earn a higher salary than someone in the retail industry. On top of the base salary, many relationship managers are eligible for commissions for every sale they make, in addition to end-of-year bonuses, insurance and mandatory provident fund contributions. They may also enjoy non-monetary benefits, such as birthday leave, training opportunities and employee discounts.

Requirements to become a relationship manager

Most organisations require candidates for relationship manager positions to hold at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as finance, business management or marketing. You may be eligible for more junior positions, such as a relationship manager trainee role, if you hold a diploma or an associate's degree rather than a bachelor's degree. Although not compulsory, on top of a degree, holding an internationally-recognised professional certificate in banking, finance or insurance may boost your prospects of securing the role.

Most employers may prefer one to five years of prior related experience for relationship manager positions. More senior positions may require longer work experiences, while junior positions may ask for at least six months of work experience. Apart from educational qualifications and work experience, it's also important that you're proficient in English, Cantonese and Mandarin to become a relationship manager.

Relationship manager positions and their average salary

Below is a list of common relationship manager positions and their primary duties and average salaries:

1. Relationship manager trainee

Average base salary: $267,133 per year

Primary duties: This is a junior relationship managing position where you can rotate from one department to another during the course of your employment contract. You can learn relationship managing skills, strategies and industry knowledge from experienced managers who may act as your mentors. During this period, you can learn more about your interests so you can choose a more specialised role as you advance in your career. These trainee programmes are usually fast-track career pathways to a more permanent relationship manager position.

2. Assistant relationship manager

Average base salary: $305,652 per year

Primary duties: Assistant relationship managers help the senior management team in creating sales and marketing strategies that can generate revenue growth and acquire new clients. They analyse trends and data, conduct research, generate leads and develop prospects, coordinate client events and convert leads into customers. They also provide full customer service to clients, including resolving complex enquiries and issues.

3. Private banking relationship manager

Average base salary: $317,088 per year

Primary duties: Private banking relationship managers are the most commonly seen positions in the field. They conduct research, calculate profitability and analyse the stock market and trading trends to provide advice on wealth management and investment portfolios to private banking clients. They also draw up comprehensive sales pitches to promote the bank's investment products such as bonds, equities and funds. Private banking relationship managers foster and maintain positive relationships with their current clients and strive to gain new clients to reach sales targets.

4. Senior relationship manager

Average base salary: $576,192 per year

Primary duties: This is the most senior level position in the relationship managing field. Senior relationship managers acquire, grow and maintain business relationships with clients and act as their most-trusted advisors. They provide private wealth management solutions and investment services according to the clients' investment goals and financial circumstances. They promote long-term client relationships and deliver the company's value proposition. Another important part of the role is also to manage junior staff and ensure all selling activities comply with internal guidelines and external regulatory bodies.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.